Everyone is busy. I’m busy, my children are busy, my relatives are busy, my friends are busy, and my cat is busy. In a world made up of fast lanes and automated everything, we are busier than ever. It’s really ironic when you consider all of the technological advances in the last 50 years that were supposed to help us all do more in less time than ever before.
Of course, we all think we are busier than the next person. I remember being told as a kid, “Just wait till you’re grown up and married, then you’ll really be busy.” When I was grown up and married I heard, “Just wait till you have kids.” When I had kids it was, “You think you’re busy now, try having 5 kids!” When we were married with multiple kids my wife stayed home and the rap was, “Yeah, you’re wife stays home though and doesn’t have to work.” Now that I’m divorced and a single dad it’s, “You must have a lot of free time.”
The thing is, I felt pretty busy at all of those stages of life and everyone else does too. I’ve seen kids who have nothing they actually have to do other than go to school sign up for all kinds of sports, work full time so they can have a new car, go to 20 different youth group activities a month, and have sleepovers left and right, etc. Then they proudly proclaim, “I’m just SO busy!”
Youth learn their “always-stay-busy” ways honestly though. I’ve seen adult singles fill every moment of every day with extra-curricular activities and then whine about how they never get a break. Newly married couples will cram in all sorts of stuff that they say they won’t be able to do once they have kids so, “Gotta do it while we can!”
Married with children often turns into married with children who are signed up for football, baseball, basketball, soccer, hockey, boy scouts, girl scouts, gymnastics, music lessons, dance, every church activity in a 30-mile radius, and water polo. (Ok, I’m just joking about water polo.)
Empty nesters take all that new found time and immediately fill it with more responsibility at work, more church and community responsibility, and more projects at home like converting a garage into a dance hall or a barn into a hunting lodge.
Men have their hobbies like hunting, fishing, watching football and playing golf. And women have their hobbies too like scrap-booking, painting, sewing, and Facebook stalking—not to mention complaining about all the hunting, fishing, watching football and playing golf that their husbands do.
Lest you think I’m just being sarcastic about this whole thing, consider your own lives. How many times have you either said or heard something like the following:
I’m so busy all the time!
We’re just too busy.
I never really get to take a break.
Things will slow down one of these days.
I can’t get a moment’s peace!
Once _____ happens, things will settle down.
I can’t, I’m busy this week (or month).
The kids just have so much going on right now.
Wish I could, but I’m too busy.
We all have the same 24 hours in a day though, and the only things we actually have to do are those basic necessities of life like working, eating, and sleeping. A lot of what we do is optional. Let me say that again, “A lot of what we do is optional.” This fact somehow sinks down deep and gets lost in the sea of busyness we’re all swimming in. Maybe it’s because in one way or another most of us have been taught by our peers, parents, pastors, and other peeps that if we have free time we need to fill it with something. Or, maybe it’s because a lot of us have a conscience or unconscious fear of being alone with time on our hands. We might not like the thoughts and realities we’d have to face. So, we stay busy.
Then a son asks a father if they can play and the dad says he’s too busy. A daughter asks a mom if she can help and the mom says not right now. A friend wants to see another friend but one or both of them are just too busy. Children can’t visit with their parents because they can’t fit it into their schedule. Neighbors pass each other on their way to their busy lives which unfortunately rarely include time to get to know the ones who live next door. People who work together or go to church together have to plan months in advance to even so much as share a meal—even though they have time to go to all of those church meetings and community events they keep seeing each other at. Something’s amiss here.
All of our Christian beliefs and decrees can be summed up in this: That we love God with all our heart, mind, soul and strength; and love our neighbor as ourself. It’s difficult to love without getting to know. And it’s difficult to know without slowing down long enough to spend time together.
No one ever says, “I’m not really too busy to spend time with you, I’ve just decided to do a bunch of other stuff instead.” But it might be a little more accurate than the oft-heard, “I’m too busy.” Again, this perpetual busyness a lot of us appear to be plagued with just might be (and probably is) largely self-inflicted.