“How are you?”
That seems to be the mantra nowadays. I cannot decipher whether it is a path that we choose for ourselves, or a chain forced around our necks. Either way, I am both guilty and a victim. I’m guessing that you might be too. Not so sure? Then give these questions some honest consideration.
Does one glance at your daily checklist make your eyes heavy? Do you even remember the last time you had a Sabbath? Have you had 5 cups of coffee … today?
From one busyness addict to another, I want to offer you some encouragement. We cannot ignore our daily responsibilities (at least not the essential ones). We have to go to work or school (maybe even both), take care of the kids, cook for ailing loved ones, pick up groceries, fix our cars when they break down, bathe and groom ourselves, and somehow still manage to find the time to check Facebook. Life is exhausting, and it never seems to slow down, but I can assure you that God has bigger, better ideas than for us to be bogged down by life’s demands. God has rest—a concept that seems foreign to today’s culture.
I have struggled with an addiction to busyness since I was in middle school, and let me assure you that high school and college certainly did not help the situation. In the final semester of my undergraduate career, my degree audit revealed that I had 22 credit hours left to take. By all means, I could have split them up into two semesters. In fact, I should have split them up. But I was so close to my goal—to be the first college graduate in my family—and I was in such a hurry to move on with my life, that I took all 22 credit hours in one sitting. I even added a credit hour of choir. On top of that, I was working 20 hours a week as a supervisor at Chick-fil-A, served as a small group leader for the 6th grade girls at my church, and served as a student body leadership representative at Cincinnati Christian University, where I was attending. By the end of the semester I was averaging 3 hours of sleep per night but was not getting any actual rest. It nearly broke me. Yet somehow, I felt somewhat satisfied, like I was appeasing today’s American culture that uses busy and successful synonymously.
Something in me clicked when I was registering for graduate classes. My desire to hurry was finally giving in to God’s beckon for me to slow down. I registered for 9 credit hours, and made a promise to myself to never take more than 12 at a time while in graduate school. Why? Because looking back at how messed up and out of control my life felt in undergrad, I knew that something was not quite right. My heart knew that this was outside of God’s plan for me. This was not His best for me, and therefore, was bad for me.
Author John Ortberg writes that “hurry is not just a disordered schedule. Hurry is a disordered heart.”
How then, do we treat this disorder? These are some of my suggestions:
1) Follow Christ’s example. Jesus regularly spent time in solitude before His Father, taking a break from the crowds and even His closest friends. In John 5:19, Jesus says that “the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner.” Just as the Father took time to rest after creating the world, the Son took time to rest while He was saving it. The Father led the Son to places of solitude. Likewise, the Son makes us “lie down in green pastures” and leads us “beside quiet waters” (Psalm 23:2).
2) Stop the glorification of busyness. When I share with people how much I was trying to balance last semester, they often gasp and say that they wish they could do the same. My response? Don’t. I do not share my busy lifestyle to impress, but rather, to discourage others from doing the same. Society, on the other hand, puts busy people on a pedestal. The busier you are the higher the pedestal and the higher the expectation. It’s getting to the point where the expectation is unrealistic though, and people are losing some of the quality of life trying to achieve it.
3) Realize the difference between relaxed and lazy. You probably don’t call your cell phone lazy when you put it on the charger, do you? The charger is essential. Then why on earth do we sometimes feel selfish and lazy for relaxing? I am asking myself this question too, because I wrestle with it often. Relaxation is our God-given opportunity to recharge. I wouldn’t necessarily count sleep as a means of recharging either. Sure, we rest our bodies, but our minds and souls are still racing. Sitting down with a cup of chamomile tea and a book is not a bad thing. Binging on your favorite shows on Netflix might not be so bad either. Relax. You deserve it.
4) Spend alone time with God every week. Don’t read. Don’t pray. Just be. Enjoy His presence. I can guarantee that He enjoys yours. If your life is as busy and hectic as mine is and you find yourself missing God, then I’m going to guess that God is missing you too. Foster within yourself an attentiveness to the Father. Start by learning how to rest in Him.
I am no expert in this. I am just now feeling the shackles of my hurried disorder loosening … and it is wonderful. I can breathe again, and I invite you to do the same.
Photo (Flickr CC) by Wilfrank Paypa
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