A few years ago, John and I decided to remove an often-used word from our thinking, our perspective, and our conversation. We were attending a team-building event when the presenter shared an acronym that struck a deep chord in our hearts and souls.
I determined then and there to let go of the word ‘busy.’
In the dictionary, busy is defined as
having a great deal to do
being excessively detailed
keeping oneself occupied
being full of activity or work
being full of people
In many cultures, a busy life is equated with significance and purpose. A busy life demonstrates production. A busy life offers a contribution. A busy life affirms one’s identity and worth.
However, as with many things that may offer positive benefits to our lives, there is always a flip-side. There is a cost and a price to pay for the busy life. Physical, emotional, and spiritual consequences surface in the lifestyles of the fast and furious. Marriage and family time may be sacrificed. Health problems may arise. Distractions divide our focus. A good night’s sleep is replaced by late night work hours. Worrisome thoughts disturb our dreams. We struggle under the weight of the unmet expectation. We fail to get everything done as fast as we want. Ultimately, we may question our worth if we are not keeping busy and keeping active in our treadmill-like efforts.
So, when our presenter shared his acronym of the word ‘busy,’ it resonated with John and me.
What does it mean to be busy?
When I was given this word picture of the term busy, I confess it made me want to stop using the word busy altogether. The last thing I want in my life is to be under the yoke of the evil one; for any reason. Today, four years on from that ‘busy’ discussion, I rarely use the word. However, for me to really to embrace this teaching, I must choose not to live that way either.
And there’s the rub.
I can erase a word from my written and oral vocabulary. That’s easy. What is far more challenging is to choose to live unencumbered by the pressures and demands of the fast and furious life.
This is why I’m writing about this today. The next five months are full to over-brimming with mission opportunities for John and me. In addition, we have homeschooling, Micah’s competitive swimming schedule, family activities, team functions, and other significant events enfolded within our schedule. I could easily say that the next five months are going to be busy, busy, busy.
It would be so easy to allow myself to be captured by the tentacles of fear and worry as I consider all that is ahead and what is needed to accomplish each task in the next five months. Each activity or event requires hours and hours of preparation. In addition, nothing in southern Africa ever happens within an expected time frame. What I plan to do always takes longer than I had hoped.
And this is how the ‘busy’ acronym comes into play. Instead of rejoicing and being glad in the merits of today, I’m already thinking about everything I need to do for tomorrow, the next day, and in the following months. I fail to acknowledge the presence of Christ. I lose sight of the gifts I’ve been given; growing relationship in Christ, amazing husband, wonderful kids, loving extended family, great friends, good health, fruitful ministry, and more. I don’t feel rooted, established and strong. Instead I feel unsure and unsteady. I feel burdened under the weight of everything that needs to be done. I’m not thankful. I’m not overflowing with gratitude. I’m overwhelmed.
This is no way to live.
Therefore, I refuse to shoulder and to suffer under the yoke of busy-ness.
It is written, “This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (New International Version, Psalm 118:24).
It is also written, “So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (New International Version, Colossians 2:6-7).
These verses offer the antidote to the busy life.
I choose to engage with the people and to focus upon the events that are offered to me this day. I embrace the presence of Christ in my life and ask Him to lead me. I rejoice in the gifts of my family and friends. I choose gratitude. This mindset doesn’t mean I don’t prepare for what is ahead. I do. However, I refuse to let the responsibilities and tasks that are coming to rob me of the joy and blessing of today.
I will plan and prepare, but I won’t be busy.
I will engage, but I won’t be busy.
I will endeavor, but I won’t be busy.
I will perform, but I won’t be busy.
I will write, but I won’t be busy.
I will entertain, but I won’t be busy.
I will cook and clean, but I won’t be busy.
I will serve, but I won’t be busy.
I will teach, but I won’t be busy.
“This is the day that the LORD has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it” (New International Version, Psalm 118:24).
I will rejoice and be glad. I won’t be busy. In fact, I don’t use that word anymore.