Busyness is a virtue in American culture–shoot, it might be in most cultures but I don’t know any others well enough to speculate. But in American culture busyness is one of the things that is used to determine the worth of an individual. If you’re busy, you’re awesome–if you’re not busy, you are like my car that wouldn’t start this morning. We don’t come out and say this, but it’s understood. Instead of being honest about the way we view busyness everyone pretends they don’t want to be busy when they really feel better about themselves (or at least think others will respect them more) because they are. These mini-conversations sound familiar?
“Hey, how’s your week going?”
“Oh, it’s okay, I’m just so busy.”
“You want to hang out sometime?”
“I’d love to, but I’m just so busy. Maybe if we put something on the calendar for next year.”
“I have Broncos tickets.”
“Oh, you meant Sunday afternoon! Why didn’t you say so? I’m free.”
“How’s your family doing?”
“They’re good–I think. I’ve just been so busy that I haven’t been able to see them much lately.”
You get the point. We like to say we wish we weren’t so busy, when the reality is we pretend we’re busy even if we’re not. Here’s my problem with all this–being busy, or even pretending to be busy, screws with our priorities. We do the things that are right in front of us and ignore the things we should be doing. Our families, those in need, our neighbors, and our God sit on the sidelines while we take care of all our “important stuff.” Busyness becomes a God-complex. If we don’t get it done no one will and then the world will fall apart (I’m preaching to the proverbial choir here).
It should be okay, and even good, to have a balanced life. Hard work is important. Taking care of responsibilities is important. Being still and just listening sometimes is important. Having a cup of coffee and reading a magazine is important.
So I’m asking you to take a challenge I’m taking–to stop bragging about being busy (and even bragging through false frustration with busyness).
I’m going to try to stop saying, “I’m busy,” as a response to how things are going. And beyond that I’m going to work hard to keep my priorities straight and do the best things instead of the urgent things when possible. I’m going to try to take a vacation from being busy. The world might go on. How about you?