“It’s Been Busy!”

When people ask how I am, I try to avoid saying that I’m busy, even though I am, because everyone is busy it seems.

“How are you?”  “Oh!  Busy.”  That is a very boring answer, but a very true one, too.

I hate being so busy!  As an extrovert, I love having lots of things going on, and lots of people to see and things to do, but there is a difference between being healthfully busy and being consumed with that crushing, overwhelming feeling of busyness, when you know full well there is not enough margin in your life.  Unfortunately, I know that feeling too well.

aa-crazy bSo, I turned to this great little book, Crazy Busy: A (Mercifully) Short Book About a (Really) Big Problem, to see what the author had to say.

Many times, while reading this book, I saw some overlap with the very excellent book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, which I reviewed here.

The author of Crazy Busy, DeYoung, notes that “we are so busy with a million pursuits that we don’t notice the important things in life slipping away.”

Yep!  That’s what wakes me up at night, sometimes.

One of the reasons we take on so many things is pride, says DeYoung.  Pride manifests itself in people-pleasing, wanting pats-on-the-back, pity, power, perfectionism, prestige, poor planning, etc.  This brought me back to Essentialism.  We have to know what our priorities are (what is essential, to us), or else we will take on things that don’t fit within our pre-determined priorities and we will do things that ultimately hurt our relationships, hinder our primary goals, and make us stressed out for no good reason.  The author of Crazy Busy asks us to determine why we are doing what we are doing.  Ask: Am I trying to do good, or make myself look good? 

As a Christian, DeYoung addresses the guilt factor that many Christians feel in not doing “good works” for God.  We should ask what God requires of us and what He is leading us to do, taking into consideration our specific abilities and callings, as opposed to letting other people’s expectations, or guilt, determine our priorities.  We should also give other people the freedom to determine their own priorities.

There was a very insightful and interesting chapter on parenting in this book.  Basically, the author states that we need to stop freaking out about our kids.  “Parenting has become more complicated than it needs to be,” the author states.  “It’s harder to ruin kids than we think and harder to stamp them for success than we’d like.”  Kids nowadays are hovered over by parents in ways that previous generations wouldn’t even recognize.   He cites some interesting studies indicating that identical twins separated at birth and adopted into different families, and raised differently (but both in a caring family), turned out very similarly, despite their different upbringings.  In Ellen Galinsky’s “Ask the Children” survey, “kids rarely wished for more time with their parents, but, much to the parents’ surprise, they wished their parents were less tired and less stressed.”

“Could it be that we have made parenting too complicated?” the author asks.  “Isn’t the most important thing not what we do but who we are as parents?  Kids will remember our character before they remember our exact rules regarding television and Twinkies.”

The author also points out that child rearing is hardly the main theme of Scripture.  God doesn’t provide for many specific instructions about the parent-child relationship, except that parents teach their children about God, discipline them, be thankful for them, and not exasperate them.  Filling in the details depends on the family, the culture, the Spirit’s wisdom, and a whole lot of trial and error.

We can’t avoid being busy with our children, but “we can avoid freaking out about them quite so much!”

The author also had some good things to say about keeping technology from taking over our lives (and souls) and making sure we are maintaining proper rhythms of rest (“Sabbath”) and building margin into our lives.

At the end of the book, DeYoung notes that, as Christians, we are actually supposed to be busy people.  We are supposed to be working, serving, bearing one another’s burdens, etc.  But “the busyness that’s bad is not the busyness of work, but the busyness that works hard at the wrong things.”

So, it’s okay for me to be busy, even very busy during certain phases of life, but this book reminded me to make sure I am busy for the right reasons.  Again, Essentialism.  What a concept!

This book was funny—I laughed out loud several times in every chapter, it seems—easy to read, and insightful.  I would highly recommend it.

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