Busy is in. Like totally. In fact, it’s just what people do. You aren’t cool if you aren’t busy. You aren’t doing life right if you’re schedule isn’t about to explode. In fact, your existence and personhood must be pretty trivial and meaningless if you have time for all three meals and more than five hours of sleep a night. (I imagined writing that in the voice of a middle-school girl.)
When people ask how you’re doing, don’t be foolish, use this recurring moment to cast vision to all your friends, family, and coworkers about how ridiculously important you are, “I’m busy. So busy. Crazy busy. Thank God for coffee, because this week has been nuts.”
And now that you have over 500 friends on Facebook and a few hundred more on Twitter, don’t miss the opportunity to remind your captive audience how needed you are! Remind them how many hours you spent at work today. Update them on your ridiculous weekend. And keep them appraised on all thirty-seven extra-curricular activities your three children are involved in. Oh wait, it’s basketball season again… thirty-eight.
Our cultural proclamation is that achievement is of the highest importance. Significance, security, and joy are found in achievement. If you aren’t achieving, you’re losing. If you aren’t achieving, well, everyone else is, and you’ll soon be left behind. If you aren’t achieving, you’re dying, because every wasted second is but another second you can’t get back in your precious life. And your time is your life, so wasting your life is just irresponsible.
All of us want to be known as a success, considered important, looked upon as necessary. And the path we’ve paved to such achievement can be summed up in one word and one word only… more.
And that’s what we do, more. We pack our lives past our limits until there’s no room for error. There’s no room for rest. There’s no room for breathing. There’s not room for one more thing, though you’re considering it.
There’s a time limit on everything you do, and this meeting overlaps with that meeting, so while you’re in this meeting you’re thinking about the next meeting, and while you’re in the next meeting you’re thinking about what you missed in the last meeting, and then when you get home you’re thinking about work, and while you’re at work you’re thinking about home.
And the phone call is always, “Honey, I’m sorry but I’ll be fifteen minutes late.” “Buddy, I’m sorry, but I’ll miss the first two innings of the game.”
Or if you’re single, you just can’t say no. You fall prey to the unfair stereotype that you have all the time in the world without a spouse or family, so you’re just a regular yes-man. “Sure I’ll do that.” “Yea, I’ll lead this.” “I don’t even support that initiative, but sure I’ll run with it.”
And before you know it, you find yourself driving eighty miles per hour everywhere, eating while you drive, answering e-mails while eating while you drive, and thank God for Bluetooth technology so you can talk on the phone while answering e-mails while eating while you drive.
But can we just stop the exaltation of busy?
Because busy has its negative side-effects. Busy drives up stress. Busy makes you dangerously myopic allowing all sorts of important things to slip through the cracks. Busy breeds entitlement and self-pity because “Don’t you know how hard I work! Don’t you know what it’s like to be at home with three kids all day.”
And honestly, busy is just no fun.
*Have you ever felt like you’ve done everything in a day without accomplishing anything?
*Have you ever felt like you can’t enjoy anything because you’re trying to do everything?
Perhaps the most treacherous side-effect of busy is that it destroys your relationships first. Isn’t it true that your family reaps the benefits of your stress? Isn’t it true that your relationship with God slips through the cracks when you have a hundred other plates spinning? Isn’t it true that it’s hard to think about anyone else when you feel so sorry for yourself? Isn’t it true that no one is allowed to have fun when you aren’t?
The disintegration of our relationships, I’d suggest, is THE tragedy of busy. And that’s not okay. At least not for a cross-shaped individual aiming to live the self-sacrificial life that our self-sacrificing Savior and Lord Jesus calls us to. Jesus commands that relationships should be of the utmost importance.
Jesus proclaims: “You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: Love your neighbor as yourself. The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
In other words, he commands that relationships should be what’s most important to us. Our priority list should look something like what follows:
#1 – Love God.
#2 – Love others.
This means that “Me” is no higher than number three. My job, my career, my reputation, my corporate achievement can be no higher than third in my life priorities.
And it makes sense, really. You’ll never be happier than your relationships. I’ve never met an individual, and don’t expect to, with no relationship with God and terrible relationships with others who is happy.
In fact, that’s what I think makes Jesus’ two great commands so profound. He doesn’t just issue two rules in a bossy dictatorial manner. Instead, he issues two commands with the knowledge that this is how you’ll truly flourish in life and in the sight of God. We were created as social beings by a relational God. We all have a God-sized and human-sized void in our existence. And these voids can only be filled by loving relationships.
So Jesus proclaims, “Be in relationship with God! I mean, you were made in his image, so knowing him is discovering who you were created to be. And be in relationship with others! I created you to love, on my behalf, those who I have put in your life. Real life is literally impossible without this – emotionally, physically, even anatomically.”
Yet isn’t it so ironic that what many of us claim to work for is what we really work at the expense of? Isn’t so ironic that in our undying efforts to out-achieve everyone else and stake claim to our own importance and necessity, we destroy what brings us most joy and merit eternally.
At the end of the day, whatever you spend your time on now is what you’ll be left with. I can point to men who spent all their time on everything but their marriage, and that’s what they’re left with. I can point to parents who spent all their time on everything but their kids, and that’s what they’re left with. I can point to “Christians” who spent all their time on everything but a relationship with God, and that’s what they’re left with. And now, they’d give anything to take all the time they are spending putting the broken pieces of their lives back together, and invest it way-back-when before crisis struck.
So where’s your time? Where’s your investment? Because whatever you spend your time on now is what you’ll be left with.
One day, when I stand before God, I hope I’m left with a deep and rich relationship with him, and proof of my devotion in loving stewardship of my relationships with others. But to do that, I understand that I must stop the exaltation of busy. Easier said than done, but totally worth the effort.
And we’re back after a few week hiatus. Sorry to all of our faithful readers. Life got… ummm… busy. But if you like this post, share it with your people. Or get all Cross-Shaped blogs via e-mail by clicking the “FOLLOW” button at the bottom of your screen. Or if you don’t like it, ridicule it in the comment section below. But be nice.