When people ask me how I am, my default answer has become, “Busy.” I get so sick of giving that answer. It seems like that’s what everyone says (whether they’re really busy or not) because often (and unfortunately) in our society, busy-ness is equated with success and it sometimes feels like we try to one-up each other to be the busiest. It literally starts to make me nauseous if I think about it too long.
This past weekend I was blessed to get away for four days in order to attend my cousin’s wedding in South Carolina. This meant I had 8 hours of free time in the car to fill with whatever I wished (ha! Most of that time was spent fielding emails on my phone). I had been wanting to read Kevin DeYoung’s Crazy Busy since before it came out, so that’s what I did (inbetween the email dings). Several years ago, when I read Just Do Something and The Hole in Our Holiness, I loved the way he wrote so openly, honestly, humorously, and concisely, yet packed in so much truth! Crazy Busy is the same way. He writes as one who hasn’t figured it all out, but wrote to find out.
Yes, I’m one of those people who has been blessed with a full plate, but I’m learning that I need to evaluate what I let get put on my plate and when I eat it. Sometimes I put things on my plate I think are good for me, but actually turn out to be junky foods that profit no one. Sometimes God puts things on my plate I wouldn’t have chosen that stretch me and help me grow. I’m also learning that the less I put on my plate, the more attention I can give to the quality of the metaphorical food I’m facing. Saying “No” is stinking hard, especially for this girl who has a people-pleasing personality and needs to work on choosing the good portion (Luke 10:42).
“We have to believe that the most significant opportunity before us every day is the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus. We won’t rearrange our priorities unless we really believe this is the best one” (pg. 115).
Speaking of rearranging priorities, DeYoung also had some great words about prioritizing and pruning activities in chapter 5.
- “One reason we never tame the busyness beast is because we are unwilling to kill anything.” (pg. 62)
- “Setting priorities is an expression of love for others and for God.” (pg. 62)
- “Unless God intends for us to serve only the loudest, neediest, most intimidating people, we need to plan ahead, set priorities, and serve more wisely so that we might serve more effectively.” (pg. 62)
- “If Jesus is any example, God does expect us to say no to a whole lot of good things so that we can be freed up to say yes to the most important things He has for us.” (pg. 63)
Over time, I have found that when I confine my work to regular working hours and focus fully on relationships, other responsibilities, and rest in the off-time, I actually do better work. Go figure. Isn’t that how God designed it in the first place? “He also offers us a Sabbath as a test; it’s an opportunity to trust God’s work more than our own” (pg. 91). I’m all about taking a Sabbath even though sometimes it’s hard to resist catching up a little bit. But I’ve found that even if I choose not to do it on Sunday, it always ends up getting done. There is undoubtedly something extra wonderful, refreshing, and powerful about the Sunday Afternoon Nap. I’ve learned the hard way that sometimes shutting off the computer and laying down your head is an act of faith, trusting that the Lord will strengthen you for tomorrow’s tasks and shower you with new mercies.
And routine? I love routine, but I have an awful mess of one. That’s something else I’ve been praying about and working on. DeYoung was definitely singing the same song I’ve been trying to find words to for months in the “Ain’t Got No Rhythm” section of chapter 8.
Many of us are less busy than we think, but life feels constantly overwhelming because our days and weeks and years have no rhythm. …One of the dangers of technology is that work and rest blend together in a confusing mush. We never quite leave work when we’re at home, so the next day we have a hard time getting back to work when we’re at work. We have no routine, no order to our days. We are never completely “on” and never totally “off.” So we dawdle on YouTube for twenty minutes at the office and then catch up on e-mails for forty minutes in front of the TV at home. …Over time most of us work less effectively, whether it’s in the home or out of the home, and find our work less enjoyable when there is no regular, concentrated, deliberate break. … We can’t run incessantly and expect to run very well. (pg. 92-93)
If you are one of those precious friends who has been so kind to ask how you can pray for me, it is highly likely that I have responded asking you to pray that I would keep my life balanced with Christ not only at the center, but permeating through all of it. That has honestly been my biggest struggle for the past year and a half or so, but by God’s grace (and only by God’s grace), it’s getting better. Thank you, THANK YOU, for praying!
I could go on and on with excellent quotes from Crazy Busy that address social media, engaged thumbs, hospitality, parenting, and so much more, but really you should just read it yourself. Its subtitle is true. It truly is a (mercifully) short book about a (really) big problem. Please make time to read it.
I’ll end with a quote from what is perhaps my favorite page of the book, page 108.
For the sake of Christ, we must be content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. And yes, sometimes we must be content with busyness. For when you are weak, then you are strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). Paul had pressure. You have pressure too. But God can handle the pressure. Do not be surprised when you face crazy weeks of all kinds. And do not be surprised when God sustains you in the midst of them.
That just might be the best part of all the busyness, pressure, and ridiculously crazy weeks: realizing that you’re operating only by the immeasurable amount of grace He ends up giving to get through it all.
(And the next time you ask me how I am, if I happen to respond with “Busy,” please~please~please be a true friend and smack me.)