Psst! Busy is a bad word

One thing I love about working in a coffee shop is that it gives me hundreds of five-minute windows into people’s lives. In a week, I probably greet 50 people who answer my “how’s-it-going” question with this same little word: Busy.

Busy! Have you heard that before? Maybe from your own mouth — I know I’ve labeled myself busy before. It feels normal. But after hearing it again and again these past couple months, I’ve started to wonder: why it is that we’re all stuck in this loop of busyness?

I think we’ve decided “busy” is a fine way to live. But here’s the thing: It’s not.

I have a really simple theory about this epidemic of busyness:

We choose to be busy because it makes us feel valued.

Think about it. Simply said, we’re afraid of blank space. Blank space in our schedule means we might be missing out on something better. Or it means we will have to face ourselves, and feel what’s really going on inside. We do everything we can to fill up the blank spaces in our lives. I’ve felt majorly convicted of this in the last few weeks. Let me get specific:

Blank spaces I try to fill up:

  • Silence. If a conversation goes dead, I fill it up. When I’m alone, I turn on music.
  • Schedule. I often overcommit so I feel like I’m needed and valuable.
  • Spare time. I reach for my phone to check stuff whenever I’m still or waiting.

Can you relate to any of these? Filling up silence, schedules, and spare time is second nature to us all. But if we really sat down and thought about it, how much is this margin-free way of living wrecking our bodies and souls?

Last week, I decided I was done with this fear of blank spaces. So I tried a little experiment. I deleted all social media. I drove everywhere in silence. I checked my phone only two times a day. I started and ended my days in scripture, instead of “catching up” on whatever I missed on my screen. I even stayed home from a few scheduled things to read, rest, and create.

And you know what? It’s been amazing! My old curiosity and creativity are finally thawing out and bleeding into the blank spaces of my time.

Can I tell you something? Busy is a bad word. It’s the bandaid we use to cover up our ache to be valuable. Friend, we do need to be valuable. But there’s something way bigger than “busy.”

When I truly believe that Jesus Christ paid in blood for my soul, I see it’s crazy to earn up my own value. He gave it all. Check out this verse:

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.

Psalm 127:2

wow. Let me translate that into 2019: Beloved, there is no point in burning yourself out with busyness. Believe that I give you value, not the things you do. I want to give you margin.

Will you let Jesus give you margin? Join me in this challenge:

Blank Space Challenge

Turn off the music

Put away your phone

Lean into the silences

Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? And not one of them is forgotten before God. Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows.

Luke 12:6-7

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