Have you ever felt too busy? Of course you have! We all have, right? But I’m not just talking about having a lot to do every once in a while. I’m talking about being crazy busy—the type of busy where you’ve schedule too much, and there’s no way to do it all. You have too much work, too many kids, too many commitments, and you’ve said “no” too few times. This kind of busy doesn’t feel productive; it makes you feel sick.
Last winter I went through a season in which I had two boys in soccer, one also in basketball, one daughter in gymnastics, and one in special math at school. One Saturday there was major overlap in the schedules—not enough time, not enough drivers, and too many needs to meet. I was driving across town way too fast in a mini-van. In the back, one kid was changing out of a soccer uniform into a basketball uniform, another was holding a birthday present for a party, and a third was in a leotard anxious for gymnastics. I felt out of control. The life I had allowed to happen was not the life I truly wanted. I had no space to breathe, let alone enjoy life.
In our culture, a crazy busy life is the norm. When people ask how we are doing, we used to answer, “Fine!” Now we respond, “Busy.” People are over-scheduled, over-programmed, and over-worked. They’re stressed out and burned out. True, sometimes we’re busy with the wrong things, but often we’re also too busy with all the right things.
Many of us have lost a normal sense of a rhythm in life. We don’t follow the healthy tempo of eat, work, rest, and retreat. Instead, we shove food in our face while driving, talking on speakerphone between bites. We neglect family dinnertime. Tablets and smartphones let us work constantly, even in our beds at night. When we finally get away for a vacation, we pack it so full of “essential” activities—we have to post cool pictures on Instagram—that we never actually get recharged. We’ve been infected with the disease of busyness, and we need a cure.
In Philippians 4:4–7, Paul writes this:
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”
Thankfully Paul gives us the cure we need, a prescription for this disease of busyness. Paul tells us to rejoice, to be gentle, to avoid anxiety, to pray, to be thankful, and to fill our hearts and minds with the peace of God.
“We’ve been infected with the disease of busyness, and we need a cure.”
We’ll live happier, more fulfilling, meaningful, God-honoring lives if we pursue rejoicing, gentleness, prayer, and thanksgiving over busyness. The challenge is implementing this in our daily lives, especially when they’re so packed already! How do we do this? Let me off three suggestions.
1) Defend Dinner: Commit to stopping and sitting down when you eat dinner. Whether you are single or married with a large family, I encourage you to defend your dinnertime. Use it to reflect on the day, to rejoice in all you saw God do. Use it to be thankful. Make it a time of prayer. My wife and I have five kids, so we use dinnertime to let each child share the highs and lows of their days. It gives us a chance to celebrate with each child, while also taking time to pray and support them with their struggles.
2) Sleep: Turn off the TV at 9:30 and go to bed. Seriously, do we need to binge on Netflix every night? I know what you’re thinking: 9:30! Are you crazy? How can fewer hours awake make me feel less busy? Trust me—try it for two weeks, Monday through Friday, and see how you feel. My guess is you’ll feel more rested, less anxious, more productive, and you’ll find more reasons to rejoice.
3) Exercise: Since you’re going to bed at 9:30, you’ll be ready to wake up eight hours later at 5:30 a.m. to work out. Go for a run, ride your bike, take a swim. Do something to get your body moving. I have found that when I’m active, I’m not just healthier physically; I am also healthier mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I’m gentler with my spouse and kids. I’m filled with peace and confidence. I also use my time exercising to pray and present my requests to God.
CC Image courtesy Alan O’Rourke on Flickr.
About the Author
John Vandervelde serves as the Executive Pastor of Glen Ellyn Bible Church in the Western Suburbs of Chicago. He and his wife, Kari, have been married for 15 years and have five children. When he’s not at the church or chasing his kids around, John enjoys running, biking, and competing in triathlons.