As soon as I clicked on my inbox, I instantly regretted it. It was early July and I was on vacation, but already in my inbox, along with emails from my favorite retailers and the blogs I follow, were half a dozen school related messages. A high school football booster club meeting that Wednesday night, a Sign Up Genius to volunteer for the middle school carnival the first week of school, a solicitation to fill a vacant PTO position, a schedule pick up day reminder and billing statements from both my daughter’s university and her sorority. My heart started racing and though half of summer was left, it felt like it was coming to a screeching halt.
If you have school-age kids (and maybe even if you don’t) you have likely also felt like back-to-school time rivals the Christmas holidays on the busyness scale. But then again, in today’s culture does the busyness ever subside? Busyness was not meant to define and control us, so before we get too far buried underneath all the activities and meetings to come, let’s put on our gospel lenses to evaluate and shape how we prioritize our time.
How Busyness Becomes An Identity
I often hear moms complain about how busy they are; sometimes I’m one of them. But as I started to respond to a text with this sentiment, I stopped myself. Not because it isn’t true, but to evaluate whether my busyness has become an identity. If I’m honest, how much I do and accomplish in a day makes me feel better about myself. I am also tempted to view others according to what they do—as if being less busy or less super-woman-like signifies being less than.
As ugly as it is to see this about myself, I think many of us functionally live as if our identity is tied to what we do. Isn’t this why we often take on more responsibilities, volunteer roles, and projects even when we are already running ragged trying to get dinner on the table and our kids to their activities? If this is you, ask Jesus to help you see yourself not based on what you do, but who he is for you. Jesus did everything necessary to set you free from having to prove your worth through your own performance and perfectionism. So whether you have a lot on your plate, or a little, rest in his finished work for you.
How Busyness Reflects Your Treasures
Just as our busyness can become a false identity, we can see our false treasures in our busyness. So consider what you make time for. It is said a look at one’s pocketbook and calendar will reveal what’s most important. God’s word puts it this way, “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
By the looks of our calendars, what may appear to reign supreme is our kids’ activities, jobs, hobbies, and me-time. In their proper place these things are not bad. But elevated to a place in our lives that prohibit us from routinely being at church, spending time in God’s word, and investing in the lives of others is a clear sign something other than Christ is our greatest treasure. Of course, it’s easy to justify not having control over our schedule, but generally speaking we do what we want to do. If this is you, ask God to show you how to redeem your time by reordering your priorities to match what his word says is most valuable.
How To Evaluate Busyness
As a pastor’s wife, author, and mom of three teenagers, I understand how stressful life feels when being pulled in so many directions. Easily, what I value most can fall to the wayside with my family only getting what’s left of me. So I’ve found it takes knowing myself and being intentional when it comes to calendar commitments.
So while I genuinely enjoy wearing multiple hats, in this stage of life it is not best for my family or my mental health to say “yes” to too many things— even if they are good things. Therefore, before quickly agreeing to something because it sounds fun or like something I would like to be involved with I must consider the costs. Would it require me to be spread too thin? To neglect family time? Miss church? We must remember saying “yes” to something consequently means saying “no” to other things.
Likewise saying “yes” in order to please others is never the right reason to add more to our plates. I am guilty. At times I have not said no when I should have because what mattered most to me was someone else’s opinion, whether it was not wanting to disappoint or wanting to be associated with a particular person. Either way and whatever the case is for you, by God’s grace, may we recognize the ruling idols for what they are and see our identity secure in him so we can live with better balance even in the busy seasons of life.