Friday, May 1, 2015

The Battle Against Busy

Holy cow, it's May?! Seriously, how did that happen?! My March and April have been particularly full months - full of good things, to be sure, but still very full. I hesitate to use the term "busy" because it has such divided connotations. We lament our busyness, at the same time secretly celebrating it, wearing it as as a badge of honour - comparing schedules, activities and do-to lists, and rewarding the busiest with a mixture of sympathy and awe.

I've been bucking "busy" for awhile now - ever since we moved from Edmonton to Cape Breton several years ago. I didn't work outside the home, homeschooled our boys, baked almost everything from scratch, gardened, and generally swam upstream in a downstream world. It might sound busy, but we had lots of room in our days for exploring interests and visiting family and being outside; time and space to pursue our own priorities.  It was during that time that this blog was born, as well as the dream of building a ministry. In many ways, it was a wonderful, peaceful time in the life of our family. (In several other significant ways, it was a very difficult time, but that's another post for another day...)

Fast-forward a couple of years...we're back in the city now, the kids are in public school, I've recently made a commitment to quit baking (gotta say, it's kind of a relief to be buying bread and applesauce and yogurt and granola bars instead of making everything)...As we've assumed a more conventional lifestyle, we've continued to make decisions that buck the busyness bandwagon: our kids don't take any kind of lessons or play organized sports, I don't have a 9 to 5, outside-the-home job, choosing instead to manage our ministry and do my writing from home. I've recently jumped into the world of direct sales, another choice that allows me to choose where and when and how much I work. (Just a note: I acknowledge that life is different for everyone, and that's as it should be. I'm not trying to brag here or imply that my choices are better or worse than anyone else's - I just want you to know where I'm coming from.)

The determination to battle busy came about as a direct reaction to my past. For most of my life, I was busyness personified. From the time I was in elementary school, my days were jam-packed with school, friends, sports, music, drama, church stuff, and whatever else I could possibly squeeze in. And I thought I liked it that way! I raced from activity to activity, all over town, every day of the week. It was even worse as I got older - my whole university experience is a huge blur as I stretched my time to the breaking point, often forgetting meetings and rushing to write papers hours before they were due. In fact, I think I can blame my sad lack of memories on this particular phenomenon. I have had many wonderful experiences throughout the course of my life, but it seems that it was just too full to keep a record of them.

All this to say, even though I deliberately wage war against "busy", there are times and seasons in my life that fill up more than others, and require a modified method of management. I prefer the rhythm "rest-work-rest-work-repeat", but in certain seasons of life, it becomes more like "rest-work-work-work-work-rest-repeat" (Or maybe "stop-go" illustrates it better? Either way, I think you get the point...) After a comparatively stress-filled, busier-than-usual couple of months, I am very thankful to have spent the last week in relative ease. At first, I thought I was I was indulging in plain old laziness, but quickly came to realize where I was in the pattern of my life. I was being offered an invitation to enter into a time of much-needed rest - and I took it!

And oh! I'm so glad I did! Because the reason I oppose busy is that I firmly believe life is short and wonderful and worth slowing down for, is worth the effort and discomfort of saying "no" to the good in order to say "yes" to the best, and is most fully appreciated and effectively lived out from a place of peace and rest. Did you ever wonder why, in the Genesis account of creation, it keeps saying "there was evening and there was morning..."? I think rest is meant to precede work, that "stop" should come before "go". I don't always get it right, but it's a goal I'm working towards. Rest is not a luxury or indulgence, but an absolute necessity for living fully, living freely, living well.

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