When you ask a friend, “How you doing?” I bet I can guess the answer you hear 99% of the time. It’s a version of the same response I get.
“I’m too busy!”
Busy has become both a burden and a badge of honor. We are stressed, but we are secretly kind of relieved that we are soooo in demand. We are soooo important to the world. We’re kind of a big deal.
An acquaintance of mine who’s also one of my favorite authors has a new book out that’s been getting a lot of traction. The gist of it is basically:
I was too busy. I learned to say “no”. It helps to have a lake cabin to retreat to.
You’re too busy. Learn to say “no”. It helps to have a lake cabin to retreat to.
Many, especially young women around me, find this simple message tremendously freeing and validating. I’m all for it and I’m thrilled for any resource that helps us become more grounded and Jesus-centered, but what are we actually doing about it? We don’t have to live by default or as cosmic victims. We all have choices. As Craig Groeschel says,
“We all have time for what we choose to have time for.”
What about if we asked some of these questions about our choices:
- What am I filling my life with? How much of it is vital to who I want to become and who is most important to me?
- How attached am I to my phone, to social media? What is it replacing?
- Am I spending more time invested in relationships with the characters on Homeland than the people in my own home?
- What is the most important thing I’ve been distracted from doing?
Adele Calhoun, in her chapter on Rest in Invitations from God, writes about soft addictions. These are behaviors that sap time, money, and energy just like work. She sites the statistic that 91% of us have soft addictions. They are the ways we overuse good things: food, caffeine, exercise TV, Internet, texting, Facebook, work, and shopping.
My friend James preached recently and talked about this as the stuff that pollutes the springs of Living Water Jesus promises us, clogging our lives like milfoil.
“Filling our blank spaces with every addiction, reduces our capacity to give and receive love.” he says. At risk are family dinners, face-to-face date nights, devotions, prayer walks…
Some of the things that keep us from lives that are peace and joy-filled are comparison, perfectionism, fear, and shame. Ironically, these are things that are reinforced more and more through social media, 24/7 news cycles, t.v. and ads.
Evidence of too-busy-too-preocupied-to-be-present-disease is present everywhere. Phones are just one distracting urgent-over-important choice among many.
When I see parents with kids in tow, absorbed on their smartphones, oblivious to their children. I want to snatch the phone and say “DON’T DO IT!! I know it doesn’t seem like it, but your time with them is so fleeting! God has entrusted them to you. You have stewardship of these precious ones for 18 years. Make the most of it! Talk to them! Listen to them!”
But it’s not just parents. It’s 20-something singles (and 50-somethings…ahem), gripped by FOMO, who hold their smartphone through a meal like a security blanket.
I’m not in a stressful busy season of life. I have margin. But I’ve lived to experience the truth a mentor of mine shared with me when I was in my twenties. She said:
“Yes, it’s especially hard to prioritize in seasons when you have little kids, or high stress jobs with long hours. However, in some ways it doesn’t get easier no matter what season you’re in. You will ALWAYS be tempted by distractions, and the Evil One knows exactly what is most tempting to derail you. How you spend your time is always a choice, so work hard RIGHT NOW to put good practices in place.”
When we listen more to the Lover of our souls than the Liar, we find grace and acceptance just as we are.
Then we’ll hear:
“I’m cheering you on as you serve Hamburger Helper and leave the carpet un-vacuumed because I love it when you choose people over ‘perfection'”
“The world won’t end if a few emails go unanswered for 12 hours. I’m delighted that you chose to walk with Me and talk to Me tonight.”
“It’s ok if you don’t know what Donald Trump said today, you listened fully to your 2 year old’s excited rambling about something crucially important to him.”
“Way to go. A phone-free walk outside with a friend who shares your heart is better for your soul than scrolling FB feeds for a virtual community buzz.”
We’re in this together! Let’s encourage each other today as we try to choose what’s most important to our souls.
After I finished writing this, I happened to listen to a great podcast by Craig Groeschel called “I choose Important over Urgent”. I highly recommend it if you want more on this subject!