Are you busy? Of course you are. Everyone is busy these days. I checked my watch the other day hoping to see 13 or 14 o’clock…but alas, it wasn’t there. I just needed a few more hours to get through all that I had to do. Because, you see, I’m busy. I’ve very busy and maybe if I could extend the day an hour or two then I just might be able to squeeze in everything I needed to accomplish so that, finally, I would be…well…less busy. Right?
Parents drive all over Tallahassee delivering kids to sports teams and music rehearsals and math tutoring and dance recitals. I see many of these forlorn parents in parking lots with their minivans idling away, texting on their smartphones to see where they are supposed to go to next. Their car is their second home.
And back at the office the email inbox is piling up with everyone waiting for an immediate response. The computer is cranking, the cell phone is ringing, the office is humming. American workers are among the most productive in the world…why?…because we are busy…very busy.
“Busy” is an interesting word. It used to mean “to be anxious”. For a while, “busy” meant that one was rather promiscuous in the romance department. But in the first part of the 20th century “busy” came to mean what it currently means: having a very full life, filling our waking hours with lots of stuff to do.
Of course, there are some good things about staying busy. It can keep us out of trouble. You’ve heard the phrase: “Idle hands make the devil’s work”. Staying busy can give us a sense of purpose, a reason to get out of bed in the morning. In our culture, busyness connotes success…the confident business professional with their smartphone in one hand, Starbucks latte’ in the other, ready to conquer the world. I confess there was a time in my life when I loved being busy too, schedule full, calendar overflowing from dawn to dusk. But not anymore.
Maybe it’s my age…maybe it’s personal experience…maybe it’s because I’m smarter…maybe it’s just exhaustion. But I don’t think I want to be busy anymore. When I talk to friends to whom I serve as a pastor and ask: “How are you?” they almost always say, “I’m busy!” And when I ask them what would make them happy, they reply: “Just more time”…time to be with loved ones…time to play….time to rest.
How did “busy” come to be the normal way of life in our world? Sure, some of us are busy because we have no choice, such as the single Mom raising her kids and working two jobs; the harried worker trying his best to keep his job; the college student putting herself through school with a full class load and two part-time jobs. For some busyness is survival.
But I wonder if for most of us we are busy because we’re afraid that if we slow down we just might begin to question how crazily we live; maybe even wonder “Is this all there is?” So we just keep at it. We stay busy and end up not knowing our spouse or our children so well anymore. We mistake busyness for meaning in life…that our lives must really matter and make a difference because…”Hey—I’m really busy!”
Full disclosure. That’s my sin. “Physician, heal thyself!”
In my good moments I know there is another way to live and not be so ridiculously busy all the time. And it all starts with the notion of a day…just one day…this day. From the dawn of creation a day is just that… one day: singular, contained in 24 hours, 1440 minutes…86,400 seconds. You can’t subtract anything from it and you can’t add anything to it. Sure, we can get more organized, squeeze in more activities, download a hundred productivity apps, juggle calendars, sleep less and run faster. But at the end of the day all we have is a day.
See this one day, today, as a gift, a miracle even. This one day is finite. This one day has never happened before and will never, ever happen again. When we see this one day as “the day” God has made and given us, then maybe we can be a little less busy and a little more balanced with our time.
To be sure, let’s stay busy. But let’s remember that unchecked busyness takes a toll on life. Work only matters if it gives us a chance to play; an activity only satisfies when it gives way to rest.
God knows I’m busy. But God also knows that finally, all I have is this one day.
Have a wonderful today!
You are loved,