The Cure for Too-Much-To-Do

Silence + Solitude - April L. Diaz

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion?
Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.
I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
(Matthew 11:28-30, The Message)

Ever feel like a hot mess?

How often do you feel like you get to the end of the day and not only is your “to do” list not completed, but its actually longer than when you started the day?

When was the last time you missed a deadline?

How long has it been since you’ve had a solid 8-hours of sleep for a whole week?

When someone asks you how you’re doing, do you respond with “busy!” more often than not?

How many unanswered emails, voice mails, text messages, social media messages, or pieces of snail mail do you have?

Have you ever been tempted to ditch a commitment because you’re just so overwhelmed and exhausted?

How often do you get headaches, feel the weight of the world on your shoulders, or like a thousand pound gorilla is sitting on your chest?

I tend to live life very full, intense, and passionate, which then can look like I’ve got way too much to do for one human. Stress emerges. Impatience surges. My temper flares. I’m scattered and frustrated with everyone, when really I’m the only one to blame. I’m tired and worn out because of my own decisions.

For a decade I went to this place to recover my life. The first Monday of every month I sat on a bench overlooking the ocean to get away with Jesus and learn the unforced rhythms of grace. It didn’t come natural. It actually felt forced in the beginning. It never came at a good time, but I did it. Then, I became a parent and slowly but surely I let go of this monthly rhythm. I created a litany of excuses why I couldn’t take a day to be alone with God. So, for a few years I abandoned the one practice that kept me rooted, grounded, healing, and anchored in the chaos of life.

Last fall I read Invitation to Retreat (Ruth Haley Barton) and was wooed back to this monthly rhythm of silence and solitude. In many ways, my life has never been more full. I don’t have time for this. But I can’t afford not tending to my soul well. Since October, I’ve re-instituted strategic withdrawal on the first Monday of the month. Once again, I am getting away to lonely places where I can withdraw for good reasons so I can fight what’s necessary the rest of the month. It’s intentional and strategic.

If you find yourself eager yet resistant to this kind of rhythm, perhaps these words will weight you into the truth about the cure for too-much-to-do. It’s been the best thing I’ve done for myself in a while.

The cure for too-much-to-do is solitude and silence, for there you find you are safely more than what you do ... You will know this finding of your soul and God is happening by an increased sense of who you are and a lessening of the feeling that you have to do this, that, or the other thing. That harassing, hovering feeling of “have to” largely comes from the vacuum in your soul, where you ought to be at home with your Father in his kingdom. As the vacuum is rightly filled, you will increasingly know that you do not have to do those things - not even those things you want to do.
— Dallas Willard

Friend, strategically withdraw from your life so you can recover it and live freely and lightly. Let’s be the kind of people who live in the unforced rhythms of grace. You are safe and you are loved. (Yes, yesterday I strategically withdrew and took a real rest with Jesus. It was good for my soul. Can’ t wait for March.)

Recover Your Life

Mountains + Stream.png

Rest is not my normal bent. I am an Enneagram 8 with StrengthsFinders cheering me on toward activation and achievement. Add in a solid dose of extroversion, and being still doesn't come naturally. Faster, more productive, and more efficient are more my language that "rest".

Perhaps you can relate. If not, carry on, you rested soul. You don't need what I'm about to serve.

A few months ago during a particularly hectic season of life, my buddies from Stuff You Can Use asked me to be a guest on their podcast (Youth Ministry Answers) about rest. I laughed. OF COURSE!! It's one of the eye-rolling paradoxes of my life because while rest doesn't come naturally, I know how crucial it is to living a whole-hearted story. So, I got a little vulnerable and bold about how necessary it is for my - and our! - soul.

Here's a bit of what I said,
but if listening is more your style you can check out the podcast HERE.

Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
— Matthew 11:28-30

Unforced Rhythms of Grace. 

Those 4 words literally did not compute to me. That phrase, put all together was like a foreign language. I didn't understand what that phrase meant, much less how to experience that gracious invitation. But that passage has been a primary guide for me to move away from a chaotic soul and toward a more centered way of life.


Rest looks different for everyone. Ultimately, rest is whatever reconnects and re-energizes your connection with our Creator and others. Rest reminds us who we are and how important (and non-essential) we are to God and in this world. Rest brings us back into alignment to who we've been created to be. Rest is flexible and contextual. Rest is relationally centered. 

"My bench" at The Montage -- my deepest place of rest for a decade

"My bench" at The Montage -- my deepest place of rest for a decade

I took a deep dive into learning about rest, because (well, if you know me at all) that's how I roll. Before I became a mom, I used to take monthly days of silence and solitude at The Montage resort in Laguna Beach, CA. For nearly 10 years I came to this bench for a full day to re-connect with Jesus and learned about these unforced rhythms of grace. These days, practically I can't get to this spot every month for a full day of silence and solitude. 

Different seasons call for different rhythms of learning rest. Yet no matter the season of your life soul, daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly/annual rhythms are necessary for you to be whole and thriving. If you want to live "future forward" from a well rested place, not a frantic, hair-on-fire, empty, and frazzled place, rest is required. It's not a luxury, nor is it optional.


Since we're all different in how we rest and our unique seasons of life, here are some thoughts as you determine how to recover your life:

DAILY - What brings you joy and helps you feel alive? Do at least one of those things every day. It may include:

  • disconnect from technology
  • speak gratitude for 3 specific things
  • meditate on truth
  • work out
  • practice a hobby
  • create something beautiful

Mine currently includes "coffee in the morning, wine at night". It's a daily rhythm of grounding myself in simple gifts from God for my body. I've also learned to listen to my body's needs and support it with essential oils. Our bodies are our vehicles for personal transformation and increasing love in the world, so I'm learning how to care for my body as a restful rhythm. Articulating 3 things I'm grateful for every day is a newer practice that is rocking my world. When the world feels especially heavy and unjust, I amp up my gratitude list. These have been my game changers to breathe more deeply and reconnect to my truest self.

WEEKLY - Take a Sabbath. Sabbath is a specific kind of rest. Think a 24 hour period, not just a day of the week. It can vary in the day from week to week, because - DUH - life. During a 24-hour Sabbath, you interrupt the pattern of your other 7 days. You stop producing for the benefit of someone else and posture yourself to be reminded that you are enough. You are loved. Who you are isn't what you do. For 24-hours remember that the world will keep on spinning without your help.  Sabbath practices may include:

  • go to places that energize you
  • eat well and move your body
  • spend time with life-giving people
  • do ordinary, unimportant work like gardening or cleaning the kitchen
  • put "do not disturb" on your phone
  • use an "out of office" email until people learn to stop asking you for things on a day off
  • participate in a worship service with other people of faith

One of my favorite quotes from John Ortberg is "sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is sleep". The Sabbath is a great time for a nap.

MONTHLY - This is a great rhythm to get creative! For some of you a day at your version of the The Montage resort would be a good practice for you every 30 days. For others, it may be intentionally creating space to read, listen, pray, meditate, and soak in love beyond what you do on a daily or weekly basis. I've known folks who do a monthly massage or pedicure so they reconnect their body to God and feel loved through some physical touch. 

QUARTERLY / ANNUAL - Vacate your life. Intentionally taking time away from your daily routines and responsibilities gives you perspective that you canNOT get in the hustle and flow of the daily grind. Be strategic about when you do this. This may mean a weeklong vacation, but it could also mean shifting up your daily routine, taking time off from work and intentionally planning excursions that cultivate wonder, mystery, and playfulness. It doesn't need to cost money, but you may want to plan your finances so you can invest in something that will fill you in ways that won't happen otherwise. 

Whatever your rhythms look like, anchor them in grace. If rest results in you living more freely and lightly, you'd doing it right. It doesn't matter if it's different than the religious ways you've learned about it. Know you're loved. And rest will remind you of that truth.


April L. Diaz

April has been a visionary activist her entire life. She has made it her mission to lead high performing teams and develop leaders in the margins of society while caring for our bodies, mind, and spirit. Secretly, she’s a mix of a total girly girl and a tomboy, and is still crazy about her high school sweetheart, Brian. Together, they co-parent 3 fabulous kiddos and live in Orange County, CA.