We all know being too busy can wreck havoc on our family and spiritual lives, where self-care and balance fly out the window.
During my childhood, my mother hung an antique illustration on the wall above the toilet in our downstairs bathroom of a woman tied to the ground, with ropes wrapped around her ankles and wrists which were pulled tightly outward and staked into the ground. Above the illustration was a valid reminder, “Don’t Spread Yourself Too Thin”. Although a grim picture for a bathroom, it spoke to her about what she most needed to remember — but never seemed to manage. As a mother with five children, she couldn’t seem to loosen herself from the binding grind of busyness.
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus tells the parable of the great banquet where the guests invited were all too busy. They said, “I have just bought a field, and I must go see it. Please excuse me.” The other who just bought five oxen was on the way to try them out, said, “Please excuse me.”
So Jesus says the heck with you all. Invite the poor who will come and who will also appreciate this great feast.
Can you imagine being too busy to accept an invitation to Jesus’ party?
Even when we’re spiritually inclined, the lure of busyness is a seductive force. As parents, we’re arranging carpools, spending hours each week driving to school, theater, sports, friend’s houses, volunteering, and attending social events. Of course there’s shopping, cleaning, cooking, and juggling work, meetings, banking, and answering emails — while hopefully carving out quality time for self-care. Busyness pervades the lives of my single friends as well who date, attend to friendships, work, travel and frequent social events.
With a full plate this week and the past weeks with my son’s last theater performances, work deadlines, getting ready for my sister’s visit, traveling to visit my brother, and attending the needs of the family, my time for meditation and prayer is limited. But I find when I return to my spiritual practice even for a few moments a day, these moments are most valuable.
When Jesus was invited to the home of Martha and Mary, Mary sat at his feet, while Martha was distracted by all the preparations that needed to be made.
Mary came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” Jesus answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
By returning to the feet of Christ – Mary knew what was most important.
How many things do we really need to be doing anyway?
Really, as Jesus says, only a few things are needed.
I love what Poet Mary Oliver says:
It’s not so much how busy your are, but why you are busy.
Sometimes we’re busy because we’re unconsciously avoiding an issue in our lives.
Sometimes we’re doing it due to pride.
To seek approval.
Sometimes we just got caught up in the rat race, overspending, or leaving ourselves and our values behind.
We become snippy. Very tired. Depressed. Anxious
Sometimes we just overdo because we haven’t set boundaries around our time. We say “Yes”, instead of “No”.
I love what my dear friend Theresa wrote to me last night on an email. We need to say “No” in order to “Know”.
John MacArthur illustrates the detrimental effects of busyness: It ruins our taste for spiritual things. It suppresses our exuberance for spiritual service…. It all grinds away at our soul. “
In his book Subversive Spirituality, Eugene Peterson says, “Busyness is the enemy of spirituality. It is essentially laziness. It is doing the easy thing instead of the hard thing. It is filling our time with our own actions instead of paying attention to God’s actions.”
When busyness separates us from God, busyness and striving become our gods. They rule us, suffocating what matters most.
Jesus tells us, “Come to Me. Get away with Me and you’ll recover your life.” When we recommit to our spiritual lives, we accept the invitation to Jesus’ party.
As I was writing this blog, it struck me that Jesus was really a very busy guy, visiting numerous villages to share his teachings, feeding the sick, and feeding the poor. Why then is his busyness so different than ours?
His busyness was about doing the will of God — healing, serving, loving, speaking and living the truth about what matters most.
He was not striving to achieve, not keeping up with the Jones, not looking for approval. During his busyness, he also went to quiet places to pray. His yoke was easy, his burden was light. His busyness was divine busyness.
We love to hear from you! Do consider leaving a comment, and we always appreciate when you share on our blogs on your social networks, and invite a friend to sign up on our website! Be a part of spreading the holiness!