In the good ole’ days, keeping up with the Jones’ was about who had the most money, the biggest house, and the nicest car. While that remains true for some, there’s a new badge of honor in town: busyness. When you ask people how they’re doing, the answer is, “Oh I’ve been so busy!” “Busy” is the default response and when it’s not, something seems off.
Nowadays, if you’re not busy, you’re not important. If we ask people about their week and they say, “Pretty relaxing actually, lots of downtime,” we assume they’re either sick or on vacation, because there’s no excuse for that kind of leisure. Even when we go on vacation, it’s hard not to feel guilty. Canoeing down a quiet river almost feels wrong. Relaxation seems shameful. Full schedules? Honorable! Noble!
In fact, we so overload our schedules we have to overlap our schedules by multitasking! We can drive, eat, put a tie on, and make a phone call all at the same time!
I understand, there are things that need doing. We need to get to doctor’s appointments, we need to work, we need to get the kids off to school, and a host of other things, but let’s be careful not to wear busyness like a badge of honor. When we do, it only motivates us to be busier than everyone else, and that’s not good.
There are downsides to being so busy. We can be so busy it keeps us from spending time with God in prayer and Bible study (Matt. 6:33). We can be so busy taking our kids all over town from one appointment to the next, but they’re spending all their time with other people, not us (Eph. 6:4). Busyness can run us ragged, cause us to lose sleep, strain our relationships, and hinder our ability to fight temptation (Matt. 26:41).
We can be so busy we let life pass us by without ever stopping to appreciate the beauty of God’s creation and to just be (Ps. 19:1-6). We can be so busy we have no time to feel. Sometimes weeks, even months, pass by in a blink and everything happens so fast we don’t even have time to deal with our own thoughts and feelings. We lose touch with who we are; our identity is defined by the whirlwind of life. Our name is “Busy.” “I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind…” (Ecc. 2:11).
Life is busy, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. We can’t always change being busy, but we can decide not to give in to society’s pressure to be busier than everyone else. We can decide it really is okay to slow down, to cut back on the number of commitments we make, to say “no”, to take time to think, read, pray, feel, and carve out some much needed alone time with God and our families.