Busyness. It’s kind of like a predator that stalks you late into the evening. You don’t realize its there. You go on walking like everything is fine. Then, just as you begin to fatigue, it pounces on you for the kill. You can’t escape its grip because you’ve made too many commitments to too many people. And slowly, ever so slowly, you feel life leave you. What was once an exciting adventure into the unknown feels like daily grind with no end in sight.
Am I exaggerating? Perhaps. But when busyness hits it can certainly feel that way (for an F that is… not sure how Ts process it). I was doing so well this quarter. Sure, I was already busy last quarter, but I made it through without too many scratches. So I thought I could handle more this quarter. Three classes became four. 20 hours of work became 30. I took on new projects at church. Teaching engagements, weekend conferences, more meetings, exciting projects at work- all amazing opportunities that I picked up like a fat kid in the candy store. Seemed like a good idea at the time. That is until the belly ache hit.
Well it hit today. I’m just tired. One step away from burn out. I try to sleep a full night, and yet I’m still tired. I look at my calendar for the next four weeks and I just feel anxious. I wonder when I’m going to sleep in, spend time with Jesus, or just chill with my friends.
It’s hard because busyness is celebrated by our culture. We often brag about how many classes we’re taking, how many people we’re meeting up with, or even how few hours of sleep we can live off of. We take pride in our many accomplishments, degrees, hobbies, and responsibilities- all of which take time. The good resumes are always the ones filled with volunteer work, certificates, and accomplished projects. Just imagine writing under your accomplishments, “I sleep 8 hours a night and have really healthy personal relationships.”
Even in Christian culture (perhaps especially in Christian culture) busyness is seen as the mark of good leadership. Pastors are celebrated for how many sermons they’ve preached, books they’ve written, and people they’ve reached. Name one Christian leader who is praised for the number of hours they’ve spent with Jesus or for keeping a consistent Sabbath. And yet it’s clear from Scripture that we must “Remember the Sabbath…” Right up there with don’t kill and don’t sleep with someone else’s wife is a holy call to fight against busyness. We don’t celebrate the murderers, the liars, and the cheaters. Why is it we celebrate the busy people? The ones who forget the Sabbath?
Busyness causes us to lose focus on the things most important to us. It disconnects us from God. It disconnects us from those we love the most and prevents us from enjoying the goodness of this world. And perhaps worst of all it causes us to become the kind of people that we’re so busy trying not to become! When I’m busy I know I become more irritable, less open to others, less sensitive to the Holy Spirit, less efficient, less productive, more selfish, more depressed, fatter, more negative, and basically more of everything bad in my life. I more easily hurt the people I love the most and am too busy to even realize it! And even if I do realize it, I’m too tired to actually deal with it. What’s worse is once you realize how busy you are it’s difficult to untangle yourself from it. You’ve already made all the commitments. You’ve already started spinning all the plates. It would be irresponsible to just let them all drop. So then what are you suppose to do?
Well for me, I think it’s pretty simple. First and foremost, I need to guard my time with the Father. You see Jesus do this when he pulls away to spend time with the Father, and I mean Jesus was pretty busy with saving the world and all. Secondly, I need to guard my time with those I love most. I love all my friends. I love all those I minister to. But I also recognize God has entrusted me with very specific relationships to cultivate and that give me life. I need to always prioritize these people. Finally, I need to remember to keep time for myself. I need to exercise. I need to take a day of silence and just veg, even watch TV.
Yes. I know. Easier said than done. But I know even as I’ve spent a few hours today reorienting myself to these priorities, I feel the anxiety leaving me. I feel re-connected with my God and right with those I love most. I feel my overall outlook on the next month improving and my faith rising that my God is my portion in all I have to do. I’m still busy, but at least I can tackle everything I need to do at full capacity, with my loved ones hold me up, and faith that my God is bigger than all my busyness.