Freedom to Hear God, Part Six: Busyness
I have a little announcement: Fitness Friday is taking a siesta. Perhaps through the month of September…maybe longer. After much brain-beating for a fresh way to say, “eat whole foods and exercise often, ” I realize my mind is soley focused on my current fast and the content of my series “Freedom to Hear God.”
So, rather than trying to force something out that would pretty much amount to plagiarism and really bad jokes, I thought I’d just write the content nearest and dearest to my heart.
Don’t worry, Fitness Friday will be back. With more health and fitness information than you can bear in a single blog post. Until then…enjoy the series:
Missed Part Five? Click here.
If ever there was a blog post written BY me that is also FOR me, it is this one. I’ve taught lessons on laying down the burden of busyness in the past. Many times, actually. Each time I taught this lesson, I was in a position of freedom. Not at all busy. Very flexible schedule. Priorities in good order, thankyouverymuch.
As I sat down to write this post today, I thought to myself, “What happened since the last time you taught this, Sandy Cooper?” (When I call myself by my first and last name, you KNOW I’m serious.) Somehow, some way, slowly but surely over the last year or so, busyness crept up on me and made its home in my schedule.
Consider this data from the Cooper Family Files:
Exhibit A: Last winter I signed up for the She Speaks Conference. The main reason I signed up was to meet with publishers and literary agents about a book proposal. In order to have a book proposal to present to said publishers and literary agents, I had to WRITE a book proposal. I also write on this blog–three times a week. Book proposals and blogs take lots and lots of time to write. I am certain one of the main reasons God put me on this earth is to reach people through the written word. I’ve known this all my life. One of the best ways to do that is through published books and blogs. One of the best (only!) ways for unpublished authors to get published is by attending conferences like She Speaks. This is a good thing.
Exhibit B: Around that same time, my husband joined his co-workers in a mass effort to raise money for cancer. The fundraiser is The Ride to Conquer Cancer—a 150 mile bike ride. My husband was not a cyclist when he signed up for this. And, hello, you don’t just get on a bike for the first time and ride 150 miles. It takes time to train. Lots and lots of time. Since then, my husband has raised thousands of dollars in sponsorship and ridden hundreds of miles on his bike. He’s also lost a ton of weight and improved his health on every level. This is a very good thing.
Exhibit C: A few months ago, that same husband decided he’d like to consider buying a new house. Because of the economy, it’s an excellent time to buy or build. Because our current home is the result of a relocation, we only had two days to find a house and make an offer. Thus, it lacks many of the features we would have chosen if given more time to look. Our previous home in Florida was the same deal—two days to shop on a company-paid “house-hunting trip.” Our home before that (our first home) was one I was in the process of purchasing on my own when we got engaged. All of our homes have been beautiful and comfortable. But, in sixteen years of marriage, we have never had the opportunity as a couple to take our time to learn a city and shop for a house together. My sweet husband works very hard for his paycheck, and this is something he really wants to do. Looking at houses takes lots of time. Lots and lots of time. And so does getting a house ready to sell. But it’s also a good thing.
Exhibit D: My daughter Rebekah just started 5th grade. Up until this time, she has never played a team sport. Most other children start playing soccer or t-ball when they are three. Not my kids. Because I’m not about over-committing my family. (ahem) This fall, we signed her up for volleyball, and she is having a blast. And despite the fact that she’s never played before, she’s really good. She’s making new friends, getting exercise and learning the importance of working together as a team. Taking her to practice and going to games takes time. But it’s a good thing.
Exhibit E: We are hoping to someday get Rebekah a horse–not soon, but someday. Rebekah loves animals more than she loves people. And given the choice between being animal or human, I’m certain she’d choose animal. Having a horse is a Rebekah’s dream. She draws pictures of it, fantasizes about it and talks about it incessantly. We recently found a riding stable that will teach Rebekah all about horses—how to tack them, feed them, care for them and ride them—for a very low price. When Rebekah is at the stable, she’s in heaven. I’m convinced it’s one of the many reasons God put her on this earth—to care for animals. Taking Rebekah to horseback riding lessons each week takes time. And it’s a good thing.
Exhibit F: Elijah used to take Tae Kwon Do, but decided he’d like to take a break this fall. Instead he’s asked if he could join Cub Scouts. Elijah asked if he could join last year, and we said “no.” (Because we are NOT about overcommitment.) He cried. This year, he asked again. After all the carting around he is enduring with his sister in two lessons, not to mention the fact that as a middle child, he often gets lost in the shuffle, I feel like Cub Scouts is a reasonable request. It will get him outside, meeting other children and will allow him some special time with his Daddy. Cub Scout meetings take time. But Cub Scouts are a good thing.
Exhibit G: I have another daughter, Elliana. She is two-years-old. I probably could end right there, but for the benefit of those who have never had a two-year-old or blocked the trauma from your long-term memory, she needs me to help her eat, dress, pee, bathe, go to sleep, get up, play outside and keep from getting killed by cars, sharp objects and choking hazards–all the while refusing my help with shrieks and tantrums. Two-year-olds take up lots and lots of time. But two-year-olds are precious and wonderful. They are very, very good things.
And I look back over my schedule now, compared with my schedule a year or two ago, and I ask myself, “What in the world happened? When did I get so busy?”
A sneaky one, that Burden of Busyness.
I, personally, can’t think of any one thing—other than blatant sin—that can hinder our ability to hear God clearly more than being overly busy. One of the enemy’s greatest lies is that we must be juggling 50 things at once, we must do it all with grace, wisdom and self-control, we must never let anyone know that we feel overwhelmed or *gasp* ask for help, and we must look FABULOUS while we’re doing it.
(Here’s a newsflash: No one can do that. No one can do it all, do it with grace, and do it well. You may feel like you are the only one who can’t, but that’s a lie. I’m telling you right now, no one is doing it without a lot of help.)
The enemy doesn’t even care if the things we are juggling are “Christian things” or “good things.” Because when we are over-committed–even with good, Christian things–it isn’t long before we become tired, resentful, bitter and utterly ineffective at all things.
Are you there? I am.
Next time we will unpack that last concept more thoroughly. We will understand why we can’t just assume it’s “God’s will” for us to take on one more thing, just because it’s a “good thing.” And later, we will discuss different kinds of busy people (see if you can identify yourself here!) and finally, we’ll talk about some strategies to help us lay this burden down.
I’m so glad I’m doing this series right now, I’ll tell ya! I’m walking this one right alongside you, friends. So if you feel an arm linking up to yours, don’t be afraid…it’s only me.
Hey there Sandy,
I understand about the Fitness Friday Hiatus. Will look forward to reading your fitness inspirations in the coming months.
I totally hear you on the busyness. One of my mentor's and I were talking one day, I shared how I had to do this, had to do that, couldn't delegate this and certainly was the only one who could that, all the while working a FULL time over 45 hour work week, serving on a couple ministry teams and having a small group at my house on Friday nights AND committed to connecting with each woman who would come to the study.
Between the Trauma of a long commute, the Stress of a long day at work, the Drama of ministering to women with DRAMA (and I was the Queen of the DRAMA), serving like Martha and annoyed at all the Mary's…my mentor said: "You know, Jesus was very intentional in what He came to do. He did not heal every single person on the planet; he did not raise every dead person; he did not feed every single person he ever came in contact with. He did not save every single party by making the best wine in town. Yet, He was successful in His Ministry and He accomplished His Purpose on this earth and for eternity."
Didn't like that response. Afterall, I was burnt out, overwhelmed, tired and frustrated and well, a little bit of a control freak. But it was true.
Now as a single mom of a 2 year old, pet parent to 2 little dogs, an important person at my job, a homeowner, and sole provider for my wonderful family….well LIFE GETS BUSY; I GET TIRED. And well, I hear God saying…."Hey come and sit" And I am like.."Let me finish this and that" or "I'm so tiiiiirrrreeeddd right now." And that has to change.
I am so in the AMEN choir on this one. I can't wait to hear how to simplify. We have a VERY hard time with this one as my husband is a minister. And often I feel it is that commitment that brings the lists of "Have to's" Not sure I should have been that honest!
Thanks for this encouraging post. There are so many things out there that are "good" things, but are they the best things for our family? And do I take the time to really think about them first before I commit? Hmm…
Hi Sandy- I miss my fitness friday gal but I think this series is very good. I think you're wise to assess all the things you're involved in. Too many of my friends say yes to everything "good" and then wonder why they feel so frustrated. Learning to abide in Christ will allow Him to work in and through you for His purposes. It's when we step out in our "selves" that we get into trouble.
Assessing what we're doing and where we're at is so vital to our lives. I pray a great fall for you and your family.
Great series on Freedom to hear God. Looking forward to it whenever I am able to visit.
Oh, Sandy, I just realized you are taking a rest from Fitness Friday. I posted today. 😉 jeje
Well, I totally understand because I had taken a break from it too. But not a break from my fitness. I am sure you aren´t either.
With homeschool starting, I have less time to get around to read as much. want to take time to read your Freedom to Hear God series, though.
big hug, girl!
Thanks for Fitness Friday meant to me!
Thank you so much for this series. I am a 25 year old in ministry and I Googled "people pleasing bible." I am trying to break these chains and your series, by God's grace, is really really helping the process. Thank you and God bless!