Brooding On

Abandoning "Busy"

Several years ago I had a job teaching English as a Second Language.  In one classroom I would have as many as 5 native languages represented.  I used a lot of charades in this job!  I remember having an especially difficult time explaining to my students the difference between "too" and "very."  Native Spanish speakers were used to the word "mas" being used to mean both of those and had a difficult time knowing when to use "too" and when to use "very" in English.  I'd try to explain that "too" was a deal-breaker.  For example, "My glass is very full" would mean that it held a lot of punch, but "My glass is too full" would mean that it needed to be emptied a bit before you could drink from it properly.  I'd have a student come in apologizing for being "too late to class" and I'd try to explain to him that he was "very late" but not "too late" because I was going to allow him to come on in and join us. 

This is kind of how I've come to see the word "busy."  Our lives may be full.  Our every minute may be scheduled.  But, when we cross over into "busy," we've entered deal-breaker territory.  Busy implies chaos.  It implies harriedness.  It has crossed over a line.  Some of us even use it like we're bragging -- as if being busy somehow means that we're important because we have so much going on. 

Last year, I was using this word a lot.  And, I was feeling this word a lot.  Eventually, I began to feel pretty convicted about it.  You know the fellow that we're meant to model our lives after never ran or hurried anywhere.  In fact, His disciples and others around Him were constantly trying to get Him to hurry up:  "What took you so long?  While you were taking your sweet time, the man I wanted you to heal up and died on us!" 

Being busy means that we are constantly rushing around, ticking the box on one thing so that we can rush off to the next.  It's impossible to be in the moment living like this.  Jesus was always in the moment.  "Allow the children to come to me."  "Who touched my robe just now?"  I want to be done with busy.  I want to be here, perpetually in the moment. 


One of my New Year's Resolutions this year was to delete the word "busy" from my vocabulary.  Let me tell you, it's been tough.  But, just attempting to be finished with that word has done wonders for my mindset.  Every time I feel it creeping up ("I'm sorry I haven't called you back; I've just been so . . . "), I am reminded that I need to refocus and perhaps slow down. 

Our culture would buck up against this -- "But, there's just not enough time to get everything done!", it would say.  That's just a load of bull.  Our God is a God of enough.  Would He have given us 24 hours, knowing that we'd really need 28?  Of course not.  To avoid "busy," we have to make wise choices about how our time is spent.  We have to make cuts.  Sometimes they are painful.  Sometimes it's just a matter of being more mindful of where our time is spent.

We are to be good stewards of the things he's entrusted to us.  Time is one of those things.  At this house, we live and breathe by the family calendar.  Sometimes it feels like a total work of art that we're able to balance everything that we do.  Other times,  we must face the reality that, for example, spring soccer just isn't going to happen for us this year.  But, as a result, when our evening chores are complete, we have time for a family pick-up game of basketball.  

Abandoning busy is a work in progress and a constant challenge for this "doer."  But, I am working on it this year.  Deleting "busy" from my vocabulary is helping me to be much more mindful, and I thought some of you might find it a helpful tactic, too.