I’m Too Busy…

Busyness. It’s a growing disease. Not a harmless excuse.

I’m Too Busy

How many times have you answered someone with the familiar phrase “I’m just too busy right now” … or simply whispered it to yourself?

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I do it all the time. “I’m too busy.” Too busy to take that phone call. Too busy to reply to another email. Too busy to write a card for a friend’s birthday. Too busy to take the next step to grow my business. Too busy to bake some cookies for a family in need. Too busy to stop and invest some quality time in a younger sibling. Too busy to grab someone who needs a hug and say “I care about you, and you’re special to me.”

It sounds ridiculous. Who doesn’t have time for one or two of these small, meaningful things? You’d be surprised how many people won’t make time. In fact,  I’m one of them. Yes, you are one of them too. 

Busyness is a Choice

Busyness is not something we can’t help. It’s a choice. It’s what we make it. And many times it’s the result of a beautiful calling that God has placed on our lives.

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That’s why it can be a wonderful thing. But it can also be a deadly thing. You see, diligent people are usually very busy! But very busy people are not always diligent.

Are We Missing Out?

Could it be that we miss out on a lot of beautiful opportunities to make a lasting impact on the people around us, because we’re too busy doing other things that we enjoy more?

I grew up in a community of homeschooling families with stay-at-home moms and hard-working kids. It didn’t matter that they didn’t spend all day at school. Everyone had the same chronic case of busyness.

Choir. Music. Sports. Youth group. Social Gatherings. Going to games. Swimming. Competitions. Additional educational programs… the list goes on. Things that looked so exciting and wonderful from the youthful perspectives of my siblings and I. But these things kept most of these young people from a lot of other wonderful meaningful things too – like starting and growing their own businesses… learning {and figuring out!} how to fix things and build things and do things around the house and yard… learning skills like baking and cleaning and caring for a home… reading great books… opening their home to guests… and they were rarely ever all together as families to grow closer and spend quality time together. I wonder of even a few of them could have said “I have a set time to read my Bible in the morning”.

Wise Father

We’d Love To…But

The world is full of people with wonderful “busy” excuses. “We’d love to show hospitality… but we’re just too worn out from all the different things we’re involved in every week”. Or “We’d love to help you with that need but we’re just too busy to accommodate something like that without a few week’s notice.” And “We’d love to get our kids involved in entrepreneurial endeavors, but they’re never home.”

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We enjoy all of our programs and activities. We’re drowning  in calendar plans. It’s fun, and tiring, and overwhelming all at the same time.

Overlooking the Obvious

There are quite a few stay-at-home moms who spend *hours* of their day on social forums and group pages. “How can I be a better wife and mom” one of them asks… and as they all collaborate their different ideas, and share practical tips for being involved mothers and respectful supportative wives, the clock is ticking away. Dirty dishes in the sink, laundry ready to be folded and put away, the family room in need of dusting… and her husband will be home soon wanting to relax after a long day of work!

I have a brilliant idea ladies. Let’s sever all ties with FB and grab an apron from the kitchen drawer. It’s time to make today productive, efficient, and beneficial to the people who share our lives.

Because you see – you will (and do) make time for what matters the most to you. And if you don’t get your priorities straight, you’re going to do a lot of damage – to self, and to others.

Good – the Enemy of Great

I believe that busyness is a good thing. It’s a true mark of a diligent person! But what is it that’s keeping us busy? Are we meeting the needs of the people around us? Are we being servants – giving and pouring out into others? Are we doing the things that make an impact on lives other than our own? Do we have our priorities straight?

_MG_0117Because if not, we’re wasting our time. As Jim Collins says, “Good is the enemy of great.” There are a lot of good things in this world. Like seeking out the advice of others on how to be a better wife or mom.But are we overlooking “the best” as a  result? Are we forgetting about the obvious things around us that God has placed strategically in our lives for a purpose?

When I woke up today I had a lot to do. Some of those were things I had to accomplish. Some of them were things I wanted to accomplish. And then there are the things that I don’t have on my list at all… that I know should be on there because they matter. Things like reading stories to my littlest brother, and being a part-time helper for my favorite guys as they work on a yard project that will make our home more beautiful.

“What is it that God’s calling me to do today? Do I have my priorities right? Am I making time for good things, when they require ruling out the best things?”

Does Busyness Affect Health?

If you were to stop one hundred people while out shopping in the public, how many of them would say they’ve ever felt stressed out? Or maybe even feel stressed out right this moment!?

Why are they stressed?

Fear, anxiety, tension, unfulfilment, unanswered questions, doubts, the constant urge to always do more and be better…

They can’t keep up with life. That next assignment… what so and so will think of them… what they’re going to wear for the gathering tonight… whether or not that visit is going to happen this Summer… how they’re going to get everything accomplished… what to make for dinner… why there’s no money in the bank and what’s going to happen… the conflict that happened at church with a best friend who is now ignoring them… their newest health problem that seems hopelessly unsolvable… the communication barrier in their marriage… the rebellious teen that’s threatening to leave home…

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And how many times is it because we can’t (and don’t) say no. We convince ourselves that we can always fit that one more thing in here, or squeeze that in there. And we rush around trying to be everyone, everywhere, all the time.

And in the process we forget about relationships, and we lose them… we forget about serving, so we become selfish. We lose sight of beautiful Biblical callings like hospitality, generosity, servitude, fellowship, family togetherness, entrepreneurship, discipleship, wisdom, worship… the very things that create purpose, fulfillment, joy, peace, and relationship growth. The things that keep us focused on Christ and able to enjoy the work that we are doing – not live a life of stress, fear, and anxiety.

We can’t handle everything that we’d like to do. We can’t do it all. As wonderful as our intentions may be. Sometimes we just have to say “I’ve prayed about this, and I can’t commit to it right now.”

And it doesn’t help that the world has placed incredibly high and lofty expectations on us, to always be more than what we are.

It’s destroying us. It’s ruining our health as an entire society. It’s a wonderful thing that can get out of control when we don’t use wisdom to make right choices.

“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Making Time

I know… you’re thinking “Like you have room to talk! You have time for this and this and this!”

And sometimes I do. But sometimes I really don’t.

Like those days when my dad has orders coming into the office faster than I can imagine filling them – burning CDs, mailing books, printing newsletters and handouts and labels, more supplies to order and contacts to update and emails to send… and that will just happen to be the same day that teaching math takes 2 hours instead of 1 because there were things to explain and work through…  and there will be an overload of vegetables to run out and pick in the garden before they rot… and I’m on lunch-making… and there’s 5 huge baskets of laundry all over the living room floor… and orders are coming in to be packaged and taken to the post office… and there’s a pile of mulch outside that needs to be moved and raked out… someone needs me to drive them to an appointment because everyone else is busy… and there are errands on the way home… but it takes a few stores to get whatever-it-is-that-we need… and I was supposed to work on a special report to mail to a list of customers… and is that really just the beginning of my list? {You relate!} 🙂

And my first thought when little brother asks me to read him a story is,“What! You want me to what!!?”

Sometimes I really have to choose to make time.

And it doesn’t mean you won’t have to cram-slam-jam it in there right along with a whole lot of other things 😉

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And that’s exactly what I’m talking about. We’ll always make time for the things that matter the most to us.

A, B & C – Establishing Convictions and Setting Priorities

I’m sure Martha had the best of intentions when she set to work preparing dinner for Jesus and His disciples. And yet Jesus said ” Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:41-42

Have you established convictions? Have you checked your heart motives? Have you made personal choices that you use as guidelines to help you say “Yes” or “No” to these “busy” opportunities in life?

When I wake up in the morning it doesn’t matter how busy my day is. I’m going to meet with my family at 7:30 for family devotions and a meeting about the day. After that I’m going to have my personal Bible study and prayer time. And then I’m off to teach math to the boys and later on make lunch for my family. And throughout the day I will fit in lots of other things.

And there are days when I wake up early and go to bed early (in the morning)… 🙂

And when someone in our family complains about having too much to do, my dad says “Let me see your schedule… I can help you make time for ______”.

Ask yourself questions like “How many times am I checking my email each day? How much time do I spend on social media – reading blogs, checking updates, chatting, posting… ? What time do I get out of bed in the morning? What time do I go to bed at night? How much time do I spend watching TV or texting friends, or talking on the phone?? And what is it that I do for enjoyment if and when I have a free moment?

Because we can (and will) make time for the things that matter the most to us. Those convictions we’ve set in place will naturally come before the other preferred accomplishments. We have our A’s, our B’s, and our C’s of “to-do’s”!

Saying No

If you’re so busy, what are you so busy doing? Have you taken the time to write out a full detailed schedule of a typical day? What exactly are you doing every minute of every day that keeps you from fitting in 10 minutes of story time here with a little brother… or 8 minutes to write and mail an I’m-thinking-of-you note to someone who needs a little encouragement?

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Are you sure that what you’re doing is more important than what you “don’t have time to do” – and from whose perspective? Because the last time I took a few minutes to write a note to someone, I realized that there are few things in my life that could be more meaningful any day, than taking a little time to pour into someone else. You might have to weed out a few “self” priorities. Like my dad did early on as a young father. He used to play golf with work friends, and do some other hobbies. He gave those up. Who has time for a personal hobby when you have a family to lead and love and spend time with? 

Yes, there will be times in life when we have to say no (like this big opportunity). When we have to throw away perfectly good opportunities that just don’t make it onto the “best” list. And sometimes saying no is the craziest thing we can imagine at that moment. But later on it is so freeing! It helps us more fully enjoy the other work that are committed to doing today. It’s important to prayerfully consider in each situation “is this what God wants me to do?”

Conclusion

The answer is not to seclude ourselves from the world. It’s not to turn off our lights and live in the dark. It would be just as selfish to stay at home all day and scrub counters for the 10th time today, because we’re out of things to do…

But there is a place and a time to say no.

There are priorities that need to be established in order – and sometimes, often times, we need a little help ordering those priorities because we have an innate drive to be self-focused.

We need to make time for things that aren’t necessarily at the top of our mental list. Because we make time for the things that matter most to us. And sometimes we need to change our focus a little before we structure our day.

Busyness can be a wonderful thing – the result of a beautiful and meaningful calling that God has placed on our lives. But if it’s keeping us from doing the things that we know we should be doing (the obvious), or from drawing closer to the ones around us (family), there’s probably a flaw in our schedule. Maybe we’ve chosen good things, and forsaken best things.

Busyness does affect our health. Because what we focus on is what tends to drive us. And if we’re living for self our lives will produce constant stress that results in growing health problems.

God created us to live meaningful, purposeful, joy-filled lives. And we don’t have to be stressed out, anxious, fearful, worried! When we live our lives for the people around us – seeking approval, status, acceptance, prosperity, possessions, or fame, we are creating a busyness that produces stress. A busyness that never “gets us there” or brings true fulfillment. But when we live our lives for the Lord, establish our priorities correctly, and take our focus off of self and onto others, our schedules can be packed while our lives produce abundant fruit.

🙂

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” – John 14:27

P.S. For the 8.33% of you who voted that the DIY Tips and Tutorial posts are your favorite… I’m going to be putting something up for you soon!

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