It’s January 1st so my Facebook feed is full of “words for the year.” A lot of people like to choose a word for the year to focus on. Some take time to pray about what their word will be. Some post about it on social media. Some take surveys of what others’ words are for the year.
Well, I’ve decided on a word I’m going to try NOT to use this year. And that word is BUSY. Busy is my “not word” of 2019.
I’m not going to say “I’m busy” when someone asks me what’s going on in my life.
I’m not going to say “I’ve been busy” when I run into someone and they ask what I’ve been up to.
I’m not going to say “busy” when someone calls to ask how my week has been.
When someone asks how we are doing, we too often reply with, “Life is busy.”
We all have busy lives, so do we really have to tell everyone how busy we are? “Busy” shouldn’t define us but…
We love to wear the Badge of Busy.
Recently, I ran into a friend in the grocery store as I was scurrying through the vegetable section. I know enough about her life to know her schedule is very full. But we refused to say we were “busy” when we greeted. The words literally started to leave our lips but we stopped – because we had discussed the Badge of Busy before.
She told me about how the moms at her son’s school, when asked to help with some event, don’t respond with a simple yes or no. They have to list all of the reasons they are too busy. They seem proud of their busy schedules. Seriously, they take the time to list out how busy they are instead of just simply responding with a yay or nay. Maybe they would be less busy if they wouldn’t take the time to prove how busy they are. Oops! Rabbit trail…
But really, when was the last time someone asked you how “life’s going” and you said something like, “Calm. My life is calm because I have a lot of margin in my life?” If we did respond that way, I bet people wouldn’t know what to say because we are so programed to be busy all the time.
Richard A. Swenson, M.D. in his book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, defines “margin” as the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Or more easily stated, “Overload is not having time to finish the book you’re reading on stress. Margin is having time to read it twice. Overload is fatigue. Margin is energy. Overload is red ink. Margin is black ink. Overload is hurry. Margin is calm. Overload is anxiety. Margin is security. Overload is the disease of time. Margin is the cure.”
Overload is another word for busy.
We pack our weekend’s full. We chase kids to and from activities and then plan a project around the house on top of that – just in case we have free time.
When, if ever, do we plan to read a book on the weekend or just hang out with friends? When do we leave work on time – after giving a full day’s work – and not feel guilty? When do we take time to just not be “busy?”
Why do we feel the need to let everyone know how busy we are? Is it because we want the Badge of Busy so people will know we have value or we aren’t perceived as lazy?
As the Badge of Busy wearers have increased, the levels of stress and anxiety have also increased. We run so fast and hard, we aren’t taking time to reflect and relax.
I’m not saying our schedules can’t be full and we have to just lie around. Life doesn’t allow us the luxury. We have to work. Our kids benefit from activities. We need a social life. We have to accomplish chores and homes need upkeep. But we need to find a balance and be okay with not being busy all the time.
Even God rested. After spending six days creating the world, the God of the universe rested.
And on the seventh day God ended His work which he had done,
and He rested on the seventh day from all his
work which he had done. Genesis 2:2-3
I’m turning in my Badge of Busy and my “not word” this year is busy. My schedule may be full but I will not tell you how busy I am. I want to tell you about all the positive things going on in my life. I want to tell you about a good book I read or an opportunity to have a long conversation with a friend. I want to tell you about the margin I’ve created in my life so I can enjoy the things I really love. It’s about choices. If I choose to wile away the minutes – and hours – on social media or some other time suck, I won’t have the time to read that book, visit with that friend or call that family member.
What about you? Do you wear the Badge of Busy with pride and honor? Does adding margin in your life make you think you’ll be perceived as lazy?
I challenge you to take off your Badge of Busy and adopt my “not word” – busy.
Moment of truth – as I was typing this, an alarm went off to remind me to take one minute to stop and take deep breaths. My first thought was I didn’t have time to stop and breathe for one minute. Then I put my “not word” into practice. I am not too busy to stop and take healthy deep breaths for one tiny minute.
I want to hear about your word of the year if you have one. Or do you have a “not word?” Is there a word you want to commit not to use this year?