I retired 2 years ago. My idea back then was to have more time to get acquainted with my washer and dryer, to newly meet some dust-bunnies, and even to cook something that didn’t come out of a box. However, I was totally disillusioned. I’m quite sure my idea of retirement was likely influenced by June Cleaver and Harriet Nelson. (Just to inform you folks under the age of forty-five, these wonderful women were the mothers on family TV shows when I was a young puppy.) Anyway, my picture of retirement doesn’t match my current lifestyle in any way at all. So, what gives? Why am I so stressed (especially now at Christmas) to the point of wanting to become a permanent resident of Tahiti? What happened to my retirement?!!
There are many components which factor into extreme busyness. I’ll tackle a few of the important ones:
First, there’s the inability, or refusal, to say “no”. We all struggle with this at some time or the other. To clarify, no one is unable to say “no”, so inability is just a smoke screen. We don’t say “no”, because to say “yes” gets us something. It could be due to a combination of perceived pressure from others to say, “I will” paired with rules you’ve made for yourself to appear competent, or the unfortunate situation of I-have-to-because-no-one-else-will (or we think no one else is capable of doing as good a job). Just in the last 2 weeks, I’ve volunteered to bring meals, meet with people, organized a family get-together, given rides, and the list goes on. This is not at all impressive…. it’s foolish. I only tell you this so you can see that I’m no different than you. No, we’re not alone, because fellow sinners are all card-carrying members of this unwanted club.
Regardless as to our reasons for busyness, the underlying heart issue for our refusal to refuse is more serious…..we don’t want to disappoint others, because when they’re disappointed in us, we’re disappointed in ourselves. It’s all about us. We live for the opinions of other people. Jesus called this “fear of man”, and we’re all guilty. Our reputation is at stake. Our Lord had much to say to the Pharisees in Matthew 6, about our motives, as we pursue the desired opinions of others. It’s wonderful, and even encouraged to do good deeds, but when it’s for the approval of others, we’ve created for ourselves a new law, which says, “I have to do this so they’ll like me for what I’ve done.” On the contrary, we’re to bless others because Jesus has blessed us first, and thankfully, He’s not keeping score. In God’s economy, our “why” we did something is far more important than the “what” we did. Look at your heart.
The second reason we busy ourselves too much is that we’re truly interested or passionate about the object of our busyness. My husband and I have given ourselves a couple of early Christmas presents this year. We love sports, so it made sense to purchase tickets to some local college basketball games. Fun, right? We also took advantage of a special offer the movie theaters were running on Black Friday….unlimited movies at their theaters for a year! We’ve already seen 3 movies in the last 3 weeks, whereas previously, we wouldn’t have seen 3 movies in a year. (Primarily, because it practically takes a second mortgage to buy a ticket, never mind your firstborn.) These sports and movie treats are a gift to us, and we love it. However, something is wrong when they cause me to rework my calendar, and they begin to feel like “another brick on my pile”. Fun isn’t supposed to be a burden. So, why would I expose myself to more stress and physical exhaustion? Because I won’t say “no” to myself when something interesting pops up. I fear I may miss something, and may never get the opportunity again (which may be true). This isn’t wrong… unless I admit that sometimes I hold onto things of life more tightly than I should. Jesus had something to say about that in Matthew 6, as well. He called those things “our treasures”… the things of earth we serve and value more than Him. I don’t usually connect having the desire to have fun, to the idea of not loving the Kingdom first, but when the fear of missing fun opportunities drives me to create a more burdened lifestyle, then my heart’s priorities are wrong.
Finally, but not to be exhaustive by any means, is the fact that we are human “doings” by nature. We love to feel that we can contribute something to life. In order to achieve this, we volunteer rides, volunteer meals, volunteer committees, volunteer all kinds of jobs, and even volunteer recruiting other volunteers. The more we do, the better we feel about ourselves. It gives us value and purpose to think that we’ve accomplished something good. This whole idea, after all, is why we strive so hard to keep the Law, instead of enjoying the freedom of living by grace. Jesus definitely had lots to say about this, not only in Matthew 6, but throughout His whole time on earth. He constantly taught that we are infinitely valued by God, and have a divine purpose in His plan as He builds His kingdom for eternity. We don’t have to work to accomplish our identity because it’s already intact and unchangeable.
This busy Christmas season, please slow down and ponder the wonder of a God who loves us so much that He sent a Messiah to save us from ourselves. We no longer have anything to prove, to Him or to others, as we busy ourselves to celebrate the birth of His coming. Let us all pull back a bit from our human “doings” at this joyous time and rest in the knowledge of His grace and peace to our soul. We can rejoice in just “being”.
Believer, Turn Around and see the beauty of our value and purpose in Christ, which supernaturally diminishes our striving to be busy impressing ourselves and others.
O’ Come Let Us Adore Him….