Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Too Busy?

I’ve heard it so often that I fear it’s become part of our national vernacular.

Every time I hear it I cringe just a little because the same words have come out of my mouth a time or twenty.

“I’m too busy.”

Have you said it? Have you thought it? Have you suffered from it?

Most recently, those words have crushed me. A friend told me she was just too busy to read my blog. She didn’t know about something that had happened in my life, and I jokingly said, “If you read my blog you’d know.”

*wink, wink*

My friend shrugged her shoulders and said, “I’m on the computer all day, and I’m just too busy to read blogs.”


But I hear it other places too.

Too busy to play with my kids. Too busy to help out at church. Too busy to serve a worthy ministry. Too busy to just hang out.

Too busy.

We’re raising an entire generation that is just too busy. All the time. And I worry about what that is doing to our kids. I wonder if they are growing up with this sense of being busied about, run here and there for the sake of being busy. I wonder if that’s what kids today think is normal, and that if they weren’t very busy one day will they feel like less of a human being?

And I wonder if someday our kids will be so programmed to think their lives are so overwhelmingly busy (or “important” because isn’t that a word that could be substituted for “busy” sometimes?) that they won’t have time for us, their parents.

But I also wonder if this “busyness” is something else.

A way to justify our existence? If we weren’t busy, would we not be necessary?

A way to get out of something we don’t want to do? Think about it, if we’re too busy, we don’t have to get our hands dirty doing this thing that’s just too hard.

A convenient excuse? Does our busyness justify our mistakes? Our shortcomings? Our overlooking good friends?

Whatever it is, I think it has to stop. Even though we may be busy (and, face it, we all are), I think we need to stop complaining about it.

I think my husband is the best example of this. He has a job that is pretty demanding. He has responsibility over a lot of people. His days are full. In fact, one day last week he had seven meetings back-to-back. Seven! I can’t even imagine that.

And yet, I have never heard my husband complain about being too busy.

He comes home, he turns off his cell phone, and he rests as much as he can. He also digs in and gets his hands dirty, volunteering in many ways. Last week, the same week in which he had seven back-to-back meetings, he also was out four evenings in a row—three meeting-ish things and one was a date with me. *smile*

If that were me, I’d be raising all kinds of heck about how tired I was and how I’d been pushed to my limit by all the demands on my time, but not my husband. He never said a word.

I’m challenging myself to stop using the words, “I’m too busy” because the fact of the matter is that I am not. There is always more time, more room in my schedule, more of me to go around. I can make time to help someone else or to hang out with a friend.

And if I have a day in which I’m not too busy, I will say a prayer of thanks and enjoy the blessing, but I will not think I am of lesser value because of it.

Because I know tomorrow will be full . . . but not too busy.

Linking this post to Amanda's Weekend Bloggy Reading party at Serenity Now.


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  1. Oh wow, Jo-Lynne. That means so much coming from you. Thank you!

  2. You know I just think we all have different tolerances for being busy. One person's too busy is another person's too bored. My husband never has any downtime and he's honestly happiest this way. I'm convinced he has two speeds, go and sleep. Faith is just like him. My son and I need downtime and feel too busy very easily, we need margin in our lives. Now I know I accept jobs I shouldn't but seems everyone else can walk away easier ;-) I'm learning to do that.

  3. Great ideas Shelly. It think that in our modern world, sometimes being busy can distract from being alone with our thoughts and ourselves, and help us not have to face reality :). But you are right that saying you are too busy is kind of arrogant, and it is often just an excuse that we think will be more palatable when we are trying to worm out of something. I think I'm going to start trying to be honest with others about my priorities rather than using the busy card from now on. It's true that we all make time for what is important to us, whether is is our families, our dishes :), education, preparing nutritious food, growing closer to God, etc. Thanks for the food for thought :).

  4. Great reminder! It bothers me too when I hear people use that excuse. I usually say if there were a million dollars for you if you could go they always say they would make it happen. Shows to me that busyness does equal important to some.

  5. That is a GREAT post! I am struggling with this recently. I work full-time, and my job is pretty demanding. Sometimes, by the time I get home in the evenings I'm tired and cranky. And I DO NOT LIKE IT!!! I am TRYING to train myself to UNWIND on my 30 minute drive home so that when I get home, my family gets the BEST PART OF ME!!

  6. I started reading your blog when someone linked to your 31 Days series (maybe Jo-Lynne - I'm a regular reader there.) I really enjoyed the reminders of how to intentionally cultivate my relationship with my kiddos. Thanks!

    I hesitate to disagree in the first time that I've left a comment, but I do. Please know it is my intention to just offer another point of view- I hope it is not hurtful!

    I agree that when others say they are too busy to do something with us, it is hurtful. And that sometimes people say they are too busy as an excuse or as a funky "badge of honor" of how important they are.

    And I totally agree about the complaining part. I have made the challenge to myself recently too to stop complaining about being "too busy." In large part, our lives are what they are because of the choices we make. So change the choices or be confident that you making the right choice and stop complaining about it. :) (Preaching to myself here.)

    But, sometimes, we are just in a busy season. And sometimes that season lasts for awhile. We are truly busy doing things that are important to the priorities of our life. And sometimes, those things take a sacrifice of other things that are incredibly worthwhile.

    I disagree with this line. "There is always more time, more room in my schedule, more of me to go around. I can make time to help someone else or to hang out with a friend."

    I will totally own up to being burned out, perhaps "clinically" so. But, I think God is teaching me that there is NOT always a way to "make" more time. And there is definitely not any more of me to go around.

    I have told friends that I am not in a position to help them right now even when I desperately wanted to because there ISN'T any more of me to go around. And I have chosen time by myself over time with the friends because I need some time to be by myself. And I have severely limited my computer time at times because there just ISN'T any more time - which means that I do not know what is going on with some of my friends that if I had time for Facebook I would know.

    Sometimes I need to say no to some really good, honorable things to survive.

    My 2 cents, and they probably aren't worth even that much!! :)

  7. Sheroll and Weavermom, I completely get where you're coming from. And I think balance is definitely the key. Like you, Sheroll, I need plenty of downtime. There are definitely busy seasons of life--I'm going to be entering an insane season of life soon, so we'll see if I can practice what I preach. :)

    What I'm really talking about is the rolling of the eyes, "I'm just. so. busy." attitude I see so prevalent in our society today. Even if our lives are crazy, we don't have to let our circumstances dictate how we will respond to it. This is, I think, what our kids pick up on and it makes me worried about how they will handle life when they grow up. Will they choose to run around like chickens with their heads cut off or will they choose balance and to not complain?

    I hope that makes sense.

  8. I can't even imagine my husband shutting off his cell phone. EVER. Sometimes he sleeps with it.

    This was a terrific post. I've often heard it said that we should never tell one another that we are "too busy" to do anything because EVERYONE is busy these days. I think it has become a way for us to one up each other on how much we can excuse ourselves from the most important things like having real relationships with our kids and others.

    I have a family member who is "too busy" to read my blog and it tells me that they just don't care that much about what I have to say.

  9. Super post Shelly!

  10. I actually see this quite a bit also in the college students I work with. Typically, when it becomes a habit or they tell me they just can't finish things they've started, I sit down with them and look at all of their time--it's amazing how much is being spent watching tv/talking on the phone/browing facebook, etc.

    I've noticed that the people who talk about being busy most are the ones who have the least to do. Also, I think it's about using our time well, and when we do that, I think we usually have more time for important things:)

    AWESOME post!!

  11. Shelly, I love this. I've got about half a draft of a post on this topic, although coming from a slightly different angle. I've been severely burned out in the past and I've also used "too busy" as an excuse. I'm not in either of those situations right now, but perhaps now is the best time to address the underlying issues of my heart, so the next time I'm tempted to say "I'm too busy," I'll be able to resist!

  12. Ah, Shelly, I am longing for the days when I can say be busy again. For some reason it is taking much longer in this move.

    Loved the picture with your great post.


  13. What a great reminder! Thank you for sharing!

  14. I always try and change the phrase 'I didn't have time' to 'I didn't *make* time'. Not out loud but in my head. I try and think that we all have the same amount of time in each day and if I choose to spend my time wasting in then I should face up to the consequences, rather than blame it on a lack of time!!


  15. Shelly,

    This is one of my all-time favorite topics to tackle, because, like YOU, I think it is somewhat of a cultural epidemic. But like so many other commenters, I think the reasons we are "too busy" vary from person to person.

    Some people are just poor time managers. Some thrive on busy. Some are just in busy seasons (that was me in the spring...way too busy, but I knew it would end on June 1). Some people are severely overcommitted and need to cut things out. Some people don't even know where to start cutting things out. Some people spend too much time managing all their stuff. Some people are perfectionists (ahem) and have a hard time stopping at "good enough."

    I agree with weavermom who said that sometimes there really IS NOT more of me to go around. Sometimes, I have to say no to really good things, so I can say yes to better things. Sometimes, saying no to hanging out with a friend hurts feelings. I feel badly about that, but sometimes it's because God has me in a season where hanging out with friends is low on my priority list.

    I'm actually teaching on this very thing tonight at church. I believe the key is to listen for God's voice and obey His prompting every single day. When you are in the center of God's will, he will always provide the grace you need for the tasks that day. He will always lead you to perfect balance, even when it looks unbalanced to other people.

    Great post and great discussion!

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it. Very insightful!

  16. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. This is a great reminder for me as I start this new season in life that is supposed to be not as busy. And I don't want my kids to grow up thinking that their worth is based on being busy. I don't want to teach her (the eventual them, I hope) that with my life. Today, I am feeling much too busy. But I knew I had to stop and read this because it would help me put things in perspective. Thank you friend. Hope to see you soon.

  17. I really don't like being overly busy, and I am not superwoman like most suburban moms. There are times I am tempted to feel 'less than' because I like to keep our lives simple, uncomplicated and not overflowing with activity. But at those times I just say to myself, sure I am DOING less than others perhaps, but the atmosphere of life in our home is manageable (usually!) and our kids are not run ragged. Thanks for this post - I don't feel 'less than' anymore :)

  18. This is definitely something I have been guilty of over and over. I often will work things into my schedule that are really frivilous, but then for bigger things that count I am too busy.

    The truth is that we can all fit a lot in to our days, it's just about making choices.

    Great post and definitely something to think about.

    Visiting from Amanda's Weekend Reading Party!

  19. wow-that's a great and deep post. i agree with you, that important is just another word for busy. popping over from amanda's party.

  20. This was an excellent post!! A really great read. Being too "busy" has been on my mind a lot lately. I think bloggers are torn between the business of "real life" and the desire to grow a blog that can also lead to "busy" time on the computer. I'm working to spend as much time as possible with my girls this summer...which means less time on the computer.

    Thank you so much for linking up with my Weekend Bloggy Reading party. Hope you'll stop Serenity Now again soon. :)

  21. This was an awesome post! I am challenged with "busyness" as well, but this really puts my response to that busyness in perspective!