If you recall, just a few posts ago I was commenting about the unusual heat wave here in Johnstown… and as I write to you now, I find it so suddenly chilly that I am swaddled in a bathrobe and wrapped in a blanket. Yeah, I’m probably a funny sight to behold, so you can go ahead and laugh.
I also really wanted the opportunity to wrap up in this new blanket of mine — it’s pretty soft, let me tell you — so that’s part of the reason for my layers.
Well, let’s jump in, shall we? Here in America, I think it’s safe to say we unnecessarily prize productivity like a god. We reward employees working “overtime” with more money, and it’s almost a badge of honor when someone regards us as busy. While it’s popular to claim a wish that we’d rather be at home in sweatpants watching Netflix instead of finishing whatever list of tasks we have chosen to drown in, I wonder if that’s actually a true claim. Because for most, it seems essential to our identity that the world perceives us as productive and busy.
But to whom do we need to prove this? And why is their validation so necessary?
Is it holy that our identity is so intertwined with busyness?
Was Jesus consumed with busyness while He was on earth?
There are so many emotionally detrimental, spiritually disturbing, and physically harmful direct effects to busyness. Consistent exhaustion leads to burnout, which often leads to apathy, which often leads to isolation… you can see this is a problematic cycle to break.
Recently, the gentle and generous-in-love Holy Spirit has taught me to slow down. (Now, my learning is a different story, but He’s also very patient!) While I innately love achievement and productivity, I’m finding that I more deeply long for connection and peace. True connection with my own soul and with other people of God who love me is admittedly difficult when my pace of life leaves no breathing room.
I miss the warning signs of exhaustion that my spirit tries to send me, when I am engrossed in chaos and busyness, which the devil has tricked me into thinking I enjoy.
There’s a song called “Redemption Rain” by Jonathan David & Melissa Helser (the extended version is absolutely heaven), and one of the most attractive lyrics is, “There’s so much space here with all my walls down.”
Isn’t that a glorious word?
Yes, the Holy Spirit is teaching me to leave a lot of breathing room in my schedule… to not pack my day so tightly… to leave space. He’s teaching me to let go of my phone more often and see people. Really see them. To savor the moment, undistracted and fully engaged. To lean into authentic connection instead of the venom of busyness. Down with the rushing and up with the resting.
I’m not perfect with this yet. It’s tempting to cave to the drug of busyness, because this addiction leads to the faux feeling of importance. But my importance does not come from a morning of back-to-back meetings, or from the number of phone calls I just had to take, or from how late into the evening I just had to work. My importance, my worth is rooted in the fact that Jesus adores me.
Friend, maybe I am also describing your situation. If I am, and you’re ready for change, it honestly starts with learning to say no. Say no to busyness. Develop the healthy habit of saying yes only to things that matter, only to people that meaningfully matter in your life. Recently I said no to an acquaintance to cut the cluster of busyness, and it surprised and disappointed her. But, believe it or not, I lived to tell the tale, and so did she. Our relationship hasn’t changed for the worse. The world didn’t end. And I made a healthy choice to invest into relationships that are a little closer to my heart.
I’ve said it before in a blog post, I recently preached to our church about this topic, and I’ll write it again to emphasize how urgently we need to get this: it’s more important that we establish healthy boundaries in our lives than it is for us to worry about disappointing others.
And notice this. In her book Present Over Perfect (which has lent itself handily to this journey of mine), Shauna Niequist says, “[As we say no,] a very interesting thing begins to happen: some people peer into your face with fascination—I want some of that, essentially, is what they’re saying. Your honesty and freedom is giving them the permission to be honest and free as well.”
Also, remember you are in charge of your schedule. It’s important to grab this. No one has forced you into busyness. You determine your schedule each day, so take authority of your own life and carve out the chaos.
Friend, I pray this fills you with a profound sense of empowerment and releases you to begin savoring the things that actually matter most in life. I bless you to rest! I bless you to exhale! I bless you to find identity in Jesus!