Just one wee problem: most of my busyness is actually a choice. No-one is standing over me with a big stick saying ‘c’mon now Emma, hop to it’. On some level, I want to be busy – and I make decisions that make sure I am.
There are different reasons for this.
1. I want to feel like I’m important. And important people are Busy. (NB: A short-cut to this is also to look grumpy: Try it – sit at your desk and look miserable: everyone will assume that you are working).
2. When I have things to do, I fuss. And instead of getting on with it I create what Glen calls ‘busy work’. These are non-essential tasks which suddenly demand Immediate Attention.
Example: we have people coming over for dinner. I’m nervous – they’re due in half an hour and (after spending the last hour pasting on false eyelashes), I’m now eyeballing a piece of mouldy cheese and a mushroom. A normal human would cut their losses, put a pizza in the oven and stick out some olives. Not me. I decide that this is the moment to go shopping and experiment with corned beef. When it all goes horribly wrong, I blame my ‘demanding’ guests, Jamie Oliver, the oven and the Bible for telling me to practise hospitality.
But I think the biggest reason for being busy is this:
3. I’m terrified of being still. Of what will happen when I stop filling my mind with noise and stuff. Of the real worries and fears and thoughts that bubble underneath.
So what’s the answer? Suck it up? Pretend everything is fine or lie down under my worries? Or something else?
‘This is what the LORD says: “Stand at the crossroads and look; ask for the ancient paths, ask where the good way is, and walk in it, and you will find rest for your souls”. (Jeremiah 6:16)
Here’s the Bible’s answer to restlessness:
But here’s how I live:
It scares me to death to think about standing, being still before the Lord. Why? Because when I stop, I think. I do look – but in completely the wrong place. I look to my feelings and my circumstances and my fears. I get overwhelmed. And then I either run or I retreat.
But this verse reminds me of the necessity of stopping. Of standing. And of looking – not at myself, but to Christ.
It doesn’t tell me to stuff or bury my feelings – but neither do I need to fix them or fix myself. Instead I’m reminded to take them to Jesus. Then to ask Him to help me and to lead me. And finally – finally, to walk. Not run – walk. With my hand in His, neither looking back or too far forwards.