Are You Too Busy?
How have you been? I’m guessing you’re going to say busy. That’s the common theme I’m hearing from most people these days, as they look at me with weary eyes.
I had an interesting conversation with someone about this last week. He asked how Michael was doing to which I replied, “He’s been busy.” The man then made a comment about everyone being busy. He said he didn’t remember his parents being this busy all of the time, but thought maybe it was because they didn’t work as much.
As I thought about his answer, my parents and grandparents’ generation came to mind. Stores were only open from around 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. If they were open on Saturdays, they usually closed around 3:00 pm. Stores were closed on Sundays.
If children were involved in extra-curricular activities, parents typically only allowed them to pick one sport per season, and possibly one musical instrument. They didn’t run through town every night involving their children in all of the possibilities available to them. Most nights, kids just played in their homes or outside with siblings or friends when they finished their homework and chores. Families helped each other with car pooling if needed.
Church was important on Sunday and so was the Sabbath rest. How many of you grew up taking naps after lunch on Sundays? People had larger meals those days and invited others over to enjoy. It was about slowing down and embracing community.
Then stores began to open on Sunday. Companies switched to shift work to stay open longer to get more production done. which caused other stores to extend their hours as well.
Society told us we can do anything and should embrace every possible opportunity. So, we stretched ourselves thin trying to do just that. Even churches added more and more programs to meet every age and interest. Work demanded more hours and stronger performance.
And now, it’s left us all exhausted, running on a hamster wheel of high expectations we place on ourselves. It’s like it’s more honourable to announce you’re busy every night of the week. People look at you weird if you say you’ve only got activities going on three nights a week and try to protect some of your family time.
Our families are now struggling because of it. We’ve lost connection, support, and rest. We’ve lost the importance of community. We’ve disconnected from the body of Christ and evidence is everywhere. Most of us struggle to get into the Bible and spend time with Jesus every day, yet we wonder why we don’t feel close to Him, can’t hear Him, and feel like we’re barely surviving in life. Our kids are struggling more now than ever too. Stress causes lots of physical illness. Medications usage increases to keep us going instead of finding the real issue and dealing with it.
So, how do you stop this cycle you’re on? How do you save your marriage, your kids, and your spiritual life?
You block two-three days off on your calendar to decompress. Shut off any communication devices – phone, computer, watch, etc. Don’t worry, if there’s an emergency, someone will figure out a way to reach you. Ask someone to babysit your children. Time will come with them later. Right now, you need undistracted time and no responsibilities.
The first day might contain watching movies, reading books, playing sports, going on a hike, cooking, etc. Do whatever you need to, to have fun and relax. If anything stressful comes to mind, or any responsibilities you feel need to be accomplished, write them down for later. Bring a notebook with you to write it in so that you’re not tempted to go on your phone.
The second day is where the difference will happen. It’ll be hard for you. It’ll give you withdrawals from technology and might take you a while to get to the point where you can clear your head, but you’ll get there. Take this day to sit with the Lord in prayer, worship, and silence. If you have a spouse, do this together.
Before you start, write out a list of questions you have for God about your schedule (or any other questions you have at the time). Talk with your spouse about this as well. You can have your own lists or one together.
Take the first bit of time to sing in worship. No one else is around so who cares if you can’t hold a tune. Genuinely give God praise and glory by singing worshipful songs to Him. Pay attention to the words you’re singing. There’ll come a moment when you feel something stir in your heart. It’ll start to soften and you’ll feel a connection with the Lord budding again.
“Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take up my yoke and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” – Matthew 11:28-30
Then pray. If you’re married, you can do this with your spouse first, then on your own. Thank the Lord for your lives, your marriage, children if you have any, your work, etc. Then ask Him what He desires for you to be doing in this season.
Search the Bible to see what it says about investing in your relationship with the Lord, your work, the Sabbath, your marriage, your children, etc. See which verses stand out to you most.
This next part will be the most refreshing for some and the hardest for others – Sit in silence. It might only take a half an hour or it might take the entire day. If thoughts or demands come to mind, right them down to get them out of your head and then go back to focusing on the Lord. Ask Him the questions you’ve brought to this time. See if/what He answers.
“Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
and he brought them out of their distress.
29 He stilled the storm to a whisper,
and the waves of the sea were hushed.
30 They rejoiced when the waves grew quiet.
Then he guided them to the harbor they longed for.
31 Let them give thanks to the Lord
for his faithful love
and his wondrous works for all humanity.
32 Let them exalt him in the assembly of the people
and praise him in the council of the elders.” – Psalm 107:28-32
When you’re finished, compare notes with your spouse. What activities do you both feel you should be doing and which ones you need to let go of? How and when will you do this? How will it help your closest relationships?
As you get back into routine, it’ll be tempting to fill your schedule with other things again. This is where consistently spending time with the Lord is so important. He’ll help to keep you accountable and focused on what He’s shown you. It’s not that you won’t do anything on the days you’ve cleared events. It will take work at the beginning to adjust to the idle time with healthier possibilities.
Start by scheduling time with the Lord each day. Make this your top priority. Plan a date night with your spouse often. Do family things with your children together; play games or find activities as a family which allows your children to have your attention and fostered conversations. Kids crave their parents’ attention whether they can verbalize it or not. You know who actually needs it most? Teenagers.
There will be times that are naturally busier than most. But, if you can slow down and stay focused on what really matters, your health, relationships, and work will actually thrive much more.
It’s okay to be weird/different than others. Enjoy time to think, invest in the Lord and people, and embrace the things which matter most to you.