Whenever people ask me how I’m doing, I’m always tempted to answer in the same way: “Busy.”
I really hate answering that way. A lot. I hate it because it sometimes seems like a badge of honor—”dude, I’m so busy right now; I don’t have a clue how to keep on top of all this stuff.” I also hate it because I’m not always sure it’s true. Am I really that busy, or am I just not using the time I’ve been given well? (And don’t get me started on the difference between busyness and productivity; they’re not remotely the same thing.)
But more than these reasons, I really hate saying I’m busy because—when I legitimately am—it’s usually my family that’s hurt the most by it.
For example, when I was writing my first book, Awaiting a Savior, I was working a full-time job, then after the kids were in bed writing researching for four-five hours a night. Every night. For three-four months. On top of that, I had preaching opportunities and a ton of work at my day job.
When I wrote Contend, it didn’t get quite as bad, but we had a few weeks where I was stretched pretty thin, especially when I was in the midst of a massive website overhaul project (again, a day job thing).
This week I’ve been digging into Kevin DeYoung’s upcoming book, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book about a (Really) Big Problem, and came across a passage where I think he nails the problem. DeYoung writes:
Busyness is like sin: kill it, or it will be killing you. Most of us fall into a predictable pattern. We start to get overwhelmed by one or two big projects. Then we feel crushed by the daily grind. Then we despair of ever feeling at peace again and swear that something has to change. Then two weeks later life is more bearable, and we forget about our oath until the cycle starts all over again. What we don’t realize is that all the while we’ve been a joyless wretch, snapping like a turtle and as personally engaging as a cat. When busyness goes after joy, it goes after everyone’s joy. (28)
I really resonate with this—the cycle we go through, again and again. We’re like the guy who gets trashed at the bar, makes a promise to God that we’ll never do it again… at least, until the next time.
“Busyness is like sin: kill it, or it will be killing you.”
If that’s true, it can mean only one thing: it’s not a godly thing to be “busy”—it might actually be something that’s killing you and ruining the joy of others around you. So, if you, like me, find yourself always too busy, always stretched too thin, what do you want to do about it?