When someone asks you, “How has your week been?” How do you answer?
My answer to that question, for as long as I can remember, has been “Busy!”.
It's also the response I get most often from others too. Busy with work, busy with the kids, busy meeting people and so on. Why are we so busy and is it a good thing?
Since lockdown I have been forced to face a less busy life. I am on furlough so have no work to do and I don’t have children so my days are spent mostly on my own. I am sure some would think that is bliss, but for a person who has only really known busyness for a large chunk of their life I must admit it has been a real struggle for me.
At first, yes, I welcomed the quieter days but...
'...after a week or so I began to feel bored and very low.
My life felt pointless and purposeless because I wasn’t busy doing things.'
And, in my mind at least, if I wasn’t being busy I was being lazy and God does not like laziness. Plus, I felt guilty knowing that others were still busy, carrying on with their jobs or raising their children. I would make lists of jobs to do but would get through them quickly then be sat twiddling my thumbs thinking I had wasted another day God had given me.
However, this is not how I am feeling today.
My circumstances have not changed but my perspective on them has.
In God's timing, a book I have been reading with some friends spoke of people having hurry sickness, rushing from one thing to the next because we feel we don’t have enough time in the day to get things done. This in turn leads to speeding through activities, multi-tasking, superficiality, clutter and the inability to love well. I was struck by how many of these struggles I could see in my own life and found myself asking why that was?
I’ve come to realise that I had been finding my identity
in what I can do and how much I can do.
I believed that God was most pleased when I was busy doing things for him so when that was taken away, I was left doubting God still loved me. If I wasn’t useful then what good was I to him? This is a condemning lie - and one that I have believed for too long.
This verse in 1 Samuel 16:7b comes to mind: "People look at the outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart". I was more focussed on what people saw of me rather than what God saw in me, but
God cares most about the state of our hearts, not what we do for him.
That doesn’t justify us sitting around doing nothing, the Bible also talks about using what God has given us to glorify him, but what we do is not where our identity or salvation is found.
God is in the business of making us more like Christ. If we don’t stop to reflect on that, spending time in God’s word and speaking to him in prayer, then we will never notice how God is working in us.
There is no point being busy if we do it with a bitter heart or allow our busy lives to justify snapping at our families or being too tired for church. Slow down, stop if you need to, and spend time with God. I have begun to listen to him again and he is well worth slowing down for.
Jesus often took time out, grabbing times of solitude for fasting and prayer. He didn’t just do that when he had the time to do it, he did it frequently even when people were looking for him [Mark 1:35]. Spending time with God, his Father, was important.