"Hurry, you're going to be late for soccer." "Hurry and finish your breakfast so we can get to school." "Sure you can do that, but you better be fast..." "Hurry, we're going to be late!"
These are all things I said last week.
Yikes. It hurts even to type all that down, knowing there are more "hurries" left unmentioned. Am I the only one, or do you hurry a lot too? Blood pressure high, adrenaline pumping, are you filled with a mix of joy and fear as you fly through the day–hoping that you don't drop anything important?
Living a hurried life seems to be connected with our level of busyness. Busy is a word that we know well as Americans. It's often a highly-prized accolade in the West, one that connotes a purposeful and full life. Consider how many times you have answered the question, "How are things?" with a shrug, a heavy sigh, and the muttered word, "Busy." You are tired but also secretly proud that you're doing something with your life. Rarely does anyone answer the "how are you" question by saying they're well-rested and at peace, unless they just came back from a vacation. Why is this? Why are we so busy?
I recently contemplated the reasons for our busyness as I listened to a book called Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. It's phenomenal, honest, realistic, and raw. And let's just say DeYoung knows his audience. The book is short and sweet, packing a punch without taking up too much time. Perfect for his target audience–the crazy busy reader.
If I'm honest, I listened to the book on audio instead of reading it because I, too, am crazy busy. I let DeYoung's words follow me as I folded laundry, cooked meals, and played with my one-year-old. If you're looking for an excellent analysis on busyness–why we're busy and how to change, check out his book. This blog is part book-review and part meandering musings, but check out his work firsthand if you want true help in this area.
As I've been reflecting on and talking with my friends about busyness, I've come to realize that busyness really is a problem for us as Americans. We're working more, sleeping less, and spending more time exhausted–routinely drinking another cup of coffee or taking a few Advil so we can push through the rest of the day. Sometimes this is seasonal, but more often than not, it reveals a deeper problem in our priorities.
What I love about DeYoung's book is that he doesn't claim that busyness is a problem in itself. Jesus poured Himself out sacrificially, often going without food or drink and teaching to the point of exhaustion. He was busy. He sacrificed sleep, comfort, and rest so that He could teach people about God. But He also rested. He spent time away–in solitude–praying to the Father. He wasn't attached to a device, looking at what everyone was eating or wearing. He had times of quietness.
So back to our earlier question: why are we busy? Sometimes our busyness serves us. We are busy because it makes us feel useful and look good. However, there are also times that we are busy in selfless service to others. And, sometimes, this type of busyness is a calling that can take many forms. It might look like the pastor's wife, who puts her kids to bed alone again tonight, after a long day, so that her husband can minister to a hurting church member. Or, it looks like the busy single mom who is working two jobs, trying to make sure her children are provided for and loved. Or, it can look like the college student who uses her season of flexibility to invest in and disciple those around her.
God calls us to be busy at times, for the sake of loving and serving those around us. After all, we are called to die to ourselves and live for Him. That said, it is also important to remember that God still calls us to rest even when He calls us to busyness. This can be difficult, but you can trust that the God who created the world can cover you while you rest in His strength.
However, for many of us, our busyness points to something deeper and less noble–perhaps pride, self-sufficiency, or a desire to earn God's favor. We think if we do more, we'll be more valuable or loveable. We can't comprehend that God loves us unconditionally. Or conversely, sometimes we think that no one else will do a good enough job. We believe we have to do everything ourselves because our work is surely invaluable. Indeed, our view of ourselves is often either too high or too low for us to rest.
What about you? Are you called to busyness, or are you busy because your worth is in how productive you are? Regardless of your reason for busyness, it can be helpful to ask the "why" question. Why am I doing this, and for whom?
DeYoung ends the book with this question, "If someone were to watch your life on tape and evaluate it, what would they say matters most to you?" I spent a little time talking with my husband about this question and realized in my moments of quiet–when the kids are at school, and the baby is napping–I often try to check off as many items as possible from my to-do list. I sometimes feel frazzled as I frantically run around the house getting things done. I think that if an outsider looked at my life's patterns, she would say that I value productivity. While not bad in itself, in my life, this habit usually trumps godly rest and healthy margin, as I create unnecessary tasks for myself simply to feel productive. But this week, in light of DeYoung's book, I stopped. I prayed more. I took a nap. I read a book. And I felt rested, remembering that God alone is my rest and that my worth isn't in how much I get done in the day.
I want my time to be well-spent for Him, not mindlessly scrolling social media, but feasting on His Word. I want to use my life, time, treasures, and talents to magnify Him. I want to burn the candle of my life to make His name known. I want to be a hard-working wife, mom, church member, and employee. And at the same time, I want to rest well at night, knowing that God loves me with unconditional and perfect love. His grace is greater than my weaknesses. He covers over my insufficiencies. His burden is easy, and His yoke is light (Matthew 11:28-30). I can rest, knowing that He is faithful to hold it all together. And, because of His faithfulness, you and I can choose whether we live frazzled or faith-filled lives.