“Hi, Chad. How are you?”
“Busy but good. How are you doing?”
“I’m busy, too.”
If this conversation is similar to one you’ve had in the past month, then I hope to encourage you through what follows. If this conversation is unfamiliar to you in the past month, then please skip this article and take the available time to pray and thank God for the season of life God has you in (and then check back tomorrow for an article that may apply to you).
Have you ever gone on a vacation to relax and sight see, only to return and find that you are more exhausted when you return from the vacation? You simply did too much on the vacation. Sure, you made memories and have plenty of photos to show for your experiences, but the overall feeling is one of exhaustion instead of renewed vigor for the routines of your normal life.
Did you know that the word “business” was actually an original word that described our common understanding of the word “busyness”? However, in the past 2 centuries “business” has taken on a work emphasis. In 1849, Thoreau is credited with first using the term “busyness” to differentiate a state of being busy.
“There is just so much to do and not enough time.” This is a common message that I hear in many different forms. Or, more recently with my promotion to become a dual college head coach over men’s and women’s volleyball, I hear this singular word “busy” as people’s response to my new position: “You are going to be busy, huh?” My reply is something positive and agreeable. But, I’m struck with the irony that my previous positions must not have seemed very busy to them. Was I failing in some way to seem busy that people now would comment about my new status of being “busy?” Or, my wife and I have three kids age 7 and younger. We continually hear this term surface again about our lives being “busy” right now. How did we get here to this perpetual state of being “busy?” And, can I surmise that I must be the busiest guy in the world or at least in Sioux Center since I have three young children and am a dual head-coach?
I want to offer an alternative as I certainly don’t believe I am the busiest guy around. I know that professors teaching classes have more on their plate than I do. My attempted solution to the state of being busy is twofold: First is to say “No” to extra things that will take me away from a good schedule balance as I have prioritized the important people and things in my life. Second is to consider restructuring my days and schedule to still accommodate the duties that keep my schedule full as well as the relationships that keep my life meaningful. I am in control of many variables on my schedule. I am also completely dependent and reliant on how God unfolds my schedule each day. James 4:13-16 describes the importance of humility in our plan making.
If you looked at the title of this and thought there was a major editorial error, then I commend you for being perceptive. I wonder which word you saw first “surviving” or “SEIZE.” As I prepared to write this article on “surviving the summer,” I couldn’t help but feel like I was down a couple of points in a sports game and fighting my way back to at least break even or escape a near loss in the final moments. “Surviving” has a context of “just make it” or “hang on” or “don’t give up” as if factors are beyond my control when it comes to putting a schedule of activities together.
Instead, I encourage us all to “SEIZE” the summer and make plans that are purposeful to whatever we want to accomplish. If we need rest, then make plans to say “no” and make some days or weeks of rest possible. If we need excitement and activity, then make plans to do so. Tell your friends “No” and feel great about it. Tell your friends “Yes” and feel great about it. Be a friend who doesn’t judge the schedule or busyness of others. Simply be available and attentive to the needs of others.
The book of Proverbs talks about the ant as a wonderful example of productive and preparative work. The contrast is the sluggard who is too tired to lift his hand from the food bowl to put morsels to his mouth and who continually rolls over on his bed in slumber. One leads to wealth and the other leads to poverty. Proverbs 6:6-8 says “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise! It has no commander, no overseer or ruler, yet it stores its provisions in summer and gathers its food at harvest.”
Mason Cooley, an American aphorist known for his witty aphorisms, has said “Nothing easier than to confuse busyness with goodness” and “the time I kill is killing me.”
I believe firmly that we are not called to just “survive” this life. Jesus told the Pharisees in John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” In his response to the rich young ruler in Matt 22:37, “Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.” Matthew 11:28 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Nehemiah 8:10 says “The joy of the Lord is your strength.” 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and discipline.”
Find your season of harvest and work it hard! Find your season of rest and let your load be lightened.
Readers of iAt, what are some other ways that you protect your schedule and keep a balanced work/rest ratio?
Come back to iAt throughout this week to read more about how you can make this summer more than just one to survive with your kids.