This year is looking full already… more speaking engagements and seminars… lots more personal as well as professional challenges and areas of growth that already stretch into December. It’s exciting for sure, but I can also feel myself almost (almost) going to that place of feeling overwhelmed, mostly because I don’t want to fall into the “busy” trap. Been there. Done that. And it was really. Ugly. In fact, the word actually causes me to have a visceral, physical reaction that makes me cringe and grit my teeth. And I’ve resolved that when someone asks me how I’ve been, to not answer “busy.” Let me explain…
“Busy” took a toll on me physically, emotionally, spiritually & mentally. It took the last half of 2014 to just BEGIN to undo the gordian knot of at least 6 years worth of just being “busy” all the time. 6 years ago was when I had begun my MA in Marriage and Family Therapy. We were also two years into developing our church plant and I had given birth to our second daughter somewhere in the midst of all that. (Ironically, these years were also one of the most self-reflective and life changing years of my life) BUT… Busy became my “thing” and I had happily embraced it in the beginning because if I’m honest, it made me feel important. I wore it like a badge and it was how I derived a big sense of my identity: Busy with school, busy with work, busy being a wife, a mom to two young children, a church planter’s wife, a therapist… busy meeting with people socially, and as a mentor… busy teaching, busy carrying stories that were heart wrenching and deep from family, friends, and clients and not necessarily releasing them in healthy ways… busy wanting to be everything to everyone… and for some reason believing that I could (or maybe should?) “do it all” – basically trying to be superhero and savior but loosing myself at the same time… I was stretched thin and I no longer liked “Busy”; it drained my soul… I. Felt. Like. A. Zombie…
“Busy” … got me tired.
“Busy” … became an excuse to not do stuff. Significant stuff. Small stuff.
“Busy”… had me forgetting important deadlines and dates and scrambling to meet them or making them up.
“Busy” … got me lonely, ironically (there’s that word again).
“Busy” … had me seriously sleep deprived because of all the things I felt I needed to do late into the night.
“Busy” … took me down the burn out road and left me empty, ashamed, angry and depressed.
“Busy” … brought lies that I normally would have shook off easily but I allowed them to stay as if they were my best friends. (“See? You’re not cutout for this!”… “You’re so inadequate!” … “A failure.”… “You’re. Not. Good. Enough!”)
“Busy” … didn’t let me have my times where I’d allow myself to connect with the One who would actually right this wrong because “Busy” became my god and whereas God would have given me everything I needed – filling me, strengthening me, encouraging me, giving me peace and LIFE…
“Busy” … took everything and spit me back out with almost nothing.
Not many knew of how bad this struggle got for me as I put up a nice “front” on most days. Not because I was purposely hiding but I did feel reluctant to admit my struggles and also felt responsible. Yes, I helped people through their problems & issues but I didn’t want others to have to deal with MY mess… I wasn’t sure who would want to. Of course, I knew of One who was already perfectly willing to – if I’d let Him… Was it pride? Shame? Fear? Combination of things? Yes.
A friend of mine had posted on New Year’s Eve, a meme on her facebook wall to declare her 2015 resolution. It simply read: “Stop the glorification of busy.” Of course, that resonated deeply with me as I realized I had been glorifying busy for years.
Although “Busy” has been officially kicked out of this girl’s life, I’m still in the recovery process and am wary of it as I know that it’s lurking right out my door because this is how our society/culture operates. We absolutely DO glorify “Busy” and we perpetuate it. The busier, the better… But that is a lie, isn’t it? And quite often, we’ll use being “busy” to not have to deal with our own stuff and being busy, now becomes an excuse for a variety of things [fill in your blank]. We fool ourselves into thinking that we’re living but instead we end up missing out on so much of life and inevitably we turn to empty things to try to make it all right.
Recovery of any kind is challenging. Often I think it involves a letting go of or a sacrifice of something – time, money, unhealthy ideas, old habits, desires, addictions, negative core beliefs, maybe even relationships (and the list could go on) – and embracing something new, perhaps something different. Sometimes the process entails drastic measures and sometimes, it’s a slower, gentler pace that tests our patience. Ultimately, it leads to something that is worth it in the end: a healthier you and a deepening sense of whom you were created to be.
For me, I literally had to stop almost everything to reassess my life. I made the choice to take 2 months off from work without pay. Thankfully, my work place was gracious enough to let me take off for that long – and still want me back when I returned! I admit that financially, we took a blow (not that I make that much… but when you have student loans and a family, well…). It was a sacrifice that needed to be made, as it was literally a matter of life and death. I know that sounds really dramatic, and I’m definitely not one for dramas, but I could have had a stroke if I kept the pace that I was going. Back then, I was 37 and a routine checkup to the doctor’s revealed an abnormally high blood pressure reading (which was definitely the result of “Busy” and total lack of self-care). My body had been signaling different things way before then but I had chosen to ignore them. However, after that check up which almost landed me in the ER, I knew it was a wake up call and I needed to respond. So I took the two months off to begin to get healthy… to release the lie that being “busy” was what made me important and I took time to relearn how to be still, which I admit is still a work in progress, and most importantly, to create space to reconnect with God, my husband, my children and myself.
As I look ahead to this year, I think I’m more “real” with myself than I was last year and the year before that… and the year before that… perhaps that’s just part of the wisdom that comes with maturing – being “real” with oneself and accepting one’s limitations. I’m still very much a work in progress and I’m OK with that (and thank God I don’t have to be anyone’s savior… thank you, Jesus!). I’ve made the decision to be more mindful about building healthier boundaries in the things I do, how I do them and where my energies and time are spent.
I’ve also decided that instead of pursuing after the hearts of people (read: people pleasing), to pursue the heart of the Father more than I ever did before because in doing so, I know that inevitably He’ll actually lead me to the hearts of the people but in His way and in His time. Besides, something tells me that it’ll be much more effective and impactful… and the best part is, I’m regaining my sense of self and the kind of life God’s wanted me to really live, once again.
If any of this resonated with you, join me. Not in making another resolution, which may inevitably be forgotten, but in the intentional pursuit of the Father’s heart and to stop glorifying “busy.” The only one that deserves glorying in our lives is the Giver of Life.
Let’s make 2015 a healthier, more meaningful, “Busy” free year.