If you clicked on this post, I assume that we share something in common: we are too damn busy. I just hope that you’re not too busy to keep reading.
The other day, I sat down over coffee with a long-time friend. We joked about putting each other off for six months and the reality that we had rescheduled twice. When he asked how things were going, I noticed that, “I’ve been busy,” was my immediate reply. HIs answer was exactly the same.
Truthfully, those generic words have become the common cry of our culture. Whether it’s peers in our professions, parents in line at pre-school, or even our own family members, everyone is busy.
Busy has become a badge of honor. Even worse, we idolize it.
Celebrities, sages, and stay-at-home mom’s alike are willing (for a fee) to share their wisdom on time management, efficiency, multitasking, and productivity. Everyone is eager to teach us how to do busy well.
But what if busy is just an excuse for self-destructive behavior?
In the name of “busy” we justify not calling people back, starving ourselves of sleep, destroying our families, and exhausting our physical capacity to the point of emotional instability.
As I quiet the noise and sit down to write, I wrestle with this question: what if busy is the unseen cancer of our generation—a byproduct of our progress that has derailed us from the way we were created to live?
I’m tired of letting busyness rule my life.
I want to tell you today that you were created for more than busyness.
The Stream of Noise
I used to wake up every morning and immediately check my cell phone. Like a drug addict looking for that hit of dopamine, I was addicted.
Even though I couldn’t possibly keep up with the endless flood of information on social media, I was hooked. Add to that countless emails attempting to teach me how to sell more books, declutter, make money online, and grow in my faith and I was drowning in noise. As soon as my feet hit the floor in the morning, it began, and it didn’t stop until I passed out from exhaustion.
That busyness leaked into every other facet of my life as well. I brushed my teeth in the shower while I washed my hair as a way to be more efficient. My career as an insurance agent was full bore while I juggled a speaking and writing business in the margin. As a Christian, I was checking the box of religiosity by reading my Bible, going to church, and doing it all in the name of serving God.
Sure, I got a lot done, but I didn’t like who I was becoming. I was slowly isolating myself from the person I really wanted to be.
As I sat in an epsom salt bath, laced with essential oils, trying to calm an anxiety attack, I knew something had to change.
Listening to God
In hindsight, I purposefully stayed busy to avoid listening to God, because I was afraid of what He might say.
In a culture that idolizes Martha, the one who welcomed and served Jesus, I had forgotten that Mary, the one who sat and listened, was the one Jesus praised. In the name of welcoming and serving God, I had failed to listen to Him. I found myself faced with a decision. I could continue down the exhaustive path of busyness or I could face my fear and sit and listen to my Father.
In a culture that refuses to listen to God, I made the choice to swim upstream. I made the choice to listen to God. That decision has been the catalyst for healing on my road to rehab.
Early, before the rest of the house is awake, I step into the dark, just before daybreak, and walk with God. These are my prayer walks. I talk with God, as a Father, and I listen.
That might sound ludicrous, it might sound spooky, but I don’t care. It has freed me from the bondage of busyness.
Initially, the walks felt like work, almost counter-intuitive. But pretty soon, something happened.
There, in the stillness, I felt like I heard God say, “Why are you so busy trying to prove yourself?”
He was right. Most of my busyness was rooted in validating myself—trying to keep up with some else’s standard of success or wealth or faithfulness or marriage or business or parenting.
As I continued listening to God, He kept speaking, telling me difficult but gracious things that challenged me. Truthfully, so many other voices and so many other noises had drowned out the One voice I longed to hear.
Now, I choose to begin every day and every moment from a place of rest, letting His voice be the only One that influences me.
The Opposite of Busy
I’ll be real honest, I haven’t perfected it yet. The stream of noise and the influence of culture still dig its claws in from time to time. I listen to the ugly, familiar voice of fear that says, “You can’t rest, you’ve got too much to do.” In those moments, I remind myself that I don’t need anyone’s permission to rest. Rest was created, by God, for you and me to enjoy.
For far too long I believed that rest was complacent and being complacent was the opposite of being busy. It isn’t. The opposite of being busy is being at peace.
I’m learning that busy is less about what you’re doing and more about why you’re doing it. Now, I only feel busy when I’m striving to do something out of my own ambition. I only feel busy when I’m not listening to Him.
I still have a lot of responsibilities and a lot of things that God has called me to do, but those things are being led by Him rather than by my own desire to prove something. And I know the difference because the Holy Spirit doesn’t operate in fear and under pressure, that’s always the enemy.
In the end, Jesus came and offered us peace. It’s that simple.
We can choose to rest in that truth or we can choose to be busy. We cannot choose both.
I choose to be present with those around me, I choose to value conversations, I choose to watch the sunrise, I choose to put my phone down, I choose my kids over my career, I choose my wife over my kids, and I choose my God over all of those things.
You can have busy, I choose peace.
If this post resonated with you, I would invite you to join me in resting with God. About six months ago, I created the RICH Life Challenge, a 7-day devotional series to help cultivate a habit of beginning each day with your Father. The Challenge is absolutely free and you can learn more by clicking here or signing up below. I hope you’ll join me.