A letter to my friends who are “too busy.”

We have a problem on our hands.

We are glorifying busyness. 

We use words like “good multitasker” and “finished to-do list” to praise people.

We live in a society that tells us stress and busy equal success, but sitting in a health psychology class learning about the effects that stress has on the body tells me otherwise. The heightened anxiety from not enough sleep and too much caffeine says otherwise. The effects that “I’m just really busy” have had on my friendships also suggest otherwise. The fact that we can’t just stop long enough to love people well, including ourselves, which is what we are called to do, is a problem. We get too wrapped up in busy that it makes us and our problems and our stress feel really big and our entire world, including the people in it, really small.

People are not small. People are people, and we are forgetting how to love them well. People are worthy of our time.

Admittedly, part of me writes this out of feeling hurt from the “too busy”s, but I also find myself doing it too. Ever since I realized how much it hurts me to hear that, I’ve tried to avoid using that phrase. It makes people feel like they aren’t worthy of your time, even if that’s not how you meant it.

I wish I could give a lesson on “How to Treat Our Friends,” but honestly, that would be a bit hypocritical of me. “I’m just really busy,” or any variation of the aforementioned phrase (i.e. “It’s been a crazy week,” “I’ve had a lot on my plate,” etc.) is not an excuse. Now, I’m definitely not saying it’s not okay to feel that way or have it be a fact that your week has been crazy and filled to its max capacity, but you should never use that as an excuse when someone is coming to you and needs you. And side note: when you say those phrases enough, you become blind to realizing when a person really needs you and can’t say it. It diminishes their time, as if to say your time is more valuable than theirs. It’s self-absorption. And our society has completely normalized that.

And I wish that “people just suck” was a good enough excuse for this, but I think it comes back to pain and how we deal with it. You can either keep choosing joy or you can learn what it feels like to sit in the darkness for the rest of your life. I know what makes me feel dark and depressed and unfaithful, and I have the ability to choose that over and over again, which has happened before. And when you choose pain, you will find yourself huge and your world so small, almost like when Alice in Wonderland grows too big to fit in the house. But I also have a God who doesn’t want that for me. Scripture tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves, but when we can’t love ourselves well, then what does that mean for our neighbors? What a radical idea that is, to love ourselves? No, this does not go back to self-absorption. Loving yourself and being self-absorbed are DEFINITELY not the same thing. Please hear that.

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Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. // PSALM 139:24 NLT

I’m not trying to bring both of us shame by calling out the amount of things we have written in our planners and on multiple to-do lists, but we have GOT to relearn how to take care of ourselves and to put people first. I could count the number of people on one hand (and that’s being generous) that I know who actually take a Sabbath for the week. I’m not on that hand. And I think it’s because I just don’t realize how important it really is. I think we all need that one day to re-center ourselves and remind ourselves that today, this very day where you are sitting at your desk reading this from a computer screen or lying in bed and reading this on your phone, this day is a gift.

We were not promised this day. You were not promised today. Today is a privilege, a gift. Another radical idea that will (hopefully) change the way you navigate your days.

And even if your day doesn’t include being super intentional with people, then just take time to refuel. Take care of yourself. That is one thing I do know is good for you and will help with every relationship in your life.

PLEASE STOP HERE. Allow yourself 5 minutes to breathe.

Now, continue on with your day and don’t put your to-do lists above other people. Find someone you love today and show them how grateful you are to have them in your life. Don’t tell them. Show them. People matter, now let’s start acting like it.

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