Q. There is never enough time in a day or week to get everything I need to get finished done. Holidays only add another long list to the already long list I try to do. Is it ever going to stop? Cindy from FL
A. I know how you feel, I’ve been there too. It seems that for every item that gets crossed off our “to do” list, five more get added.
A Look Behind Busyness
It is important we understand why we expect ourselves to function like a machine instead of a person. What drives us to have such grandiose expectations of ourselves? Why has our doing overwhelmed our being?
Let’s examine two causes I find underlie many women’s perpetual busyness.
We live in a world that defines a person’s value and worth by his or her productivity and efficiency. How much we get done and how well we can do it are the benchmarks of a good day or professional success. The downside however, is those continued good feeling depend on keeping up the momentum of doing more. That doesn’t come without a cost.
God defines personhood and success very differently than our culture does. From Christ’s perspective, success isn’t measured by how much we do but by how well we love and what kind of person we’re becoming, even in the midst of life’s activities.
As Christians, we readily acknowledge the truth of God’s word, but in our daily lives many of us still fall prey to prioritizing productivity over building relationships and growing in godly character.
When my children were young I chose not to work outside the home so I would have plenty of quality time to spend with them during their formative years. But even there I often found myself bowing down to the idol of productivity and efficiency, impatiently yelling at my children when their needs and/or demands disrupted what I wanted to get done for the day.
God tells us that we’re not to be conformed to this world’s way of thinking but to renew our mind with His perspective on life (Romans 12:2). Thomas à Kempis writes in his classic book, Imitation of Christ, “Blessed are the ears that catch the pulses of the divine whisper and give no heed to the whisperings of this world.”
A second reason we try to do it all is that our well-being revolves, not around productivity, but receiving the approval and acceptance of people in our lives. As a result, people frantically do the things they believe they must do in order for others to be happy with them, to accept them, to approve of them and/or to need them.
Read Mark 1:29-38. Here Jesus recognized his limitations and took time out for both sleep and prayer. When Jesus decided to leave Peter’s house and go to nearby villages to preach, he left many people unhealed, disappointed and perhaps even angry with him. Jesus was never dependent on what others thought of him but only what His Father thought of him. The scriptures encourage us to do likewise. (Galatians 1:10).
Until you put an axe to the root of your problem, (the fear of man and your inner sense of unworthiness) you will not be able to curtail your outward busyness.
Learn to Intentionally Chose Being Over Doing
Recently I sat out on my deck and watched the sun set over the hills. It was breathtaking. I couldn’t remember the last time I noticed it. God gently reminded me that he gives me this spectacular gift every night but I’ve been too busy to notice.
Jesus has something to say to those of us to do too much. He says, “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG).
Superwoman is a fantasy and an idol. No person can do it all or have it all. Therefore, we must learn to make wise choices based on what God values and His purposes for our lives. When doing compromises our being, we’re out of balance. Doing is important but only when it serves our being – the person we are or who God calls us to be. Let us follow the example of Mary of Bethany when she sat at Christ’s feet instead of scurrying about like her sister Martha. Jesus said she made the better choice.