The Myth of Busyness
I cannot even begin to count the number of times I’ve had this exact same encounter.
“Hey [insert college student’s name here]! How are you doing?”
“I’m okay! I’m just in a very busy season of life right now.”
Now, there’s nothing wrong with that answer. It is completely understandable, even expected, for the college life to be filled with seasons of busyness. From tests, to friends, to work, y’all have things to fill your schedule. However, the problem arises when I talk to that very student 2 weeks, 2 months, and even 2 years later and hear that familiar response: “I’m in a busy season”. What I’ve realized is that too often our “seasons” of busyness turn into lifestyles of busyness. College students are worn out, burdened, and tired with no end in sight. It’s not a season; it’s a way of life.
In Matthew 22, Jesus tells the story of a king whose son had apparently accomplished the sought-after ring by spring. His son was about to be married and the king wanted to celebrate by throwing a wedding banquet for some of his closest friends. He sends out save the dates, which explain that he will be serving the nicest of foods, and requests an RSVP. Now the next line is shocking: “But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business.” (Matthew 22:15).
What?! How could this happen? Their king has invited them to the party of the year, but they paid no attention because…they had other things to do? This doesn’t even make sense. Shouldn’t they throw off whatever work they have to do in their field or business so they could be with the king? The rationale response is to put aside whatever was on their schedule so they could be at the banquet. But their obsession with their to-do list outweighed spending time with the king. Wow, does this story ever speak directly to our culture today.
Our addiction (dare I say idolatry) to busyness has been so pervasive in recent years that we are now even embarrassed to say that we don’t have anything going on. Like the people in Matthew 22, we even take pride in missing opportunities because we’ve got other business that needs our attention. In fact, it’s almost a badge of honor in our culture to miss out on something because our life is already so packed full. So we overschedule and overcommit because we find our identity in a full schedule rather than a full soul.
While the lifestyle of busyness might make us feel important, it’s also making us exhausted. We’re a people that know we’re running on empty, but think we can make it a couple hundred more miles. When will this charade end?
You might be thinking, “But Nate, I can’t help it. I have to go to class. I have to do my homework. I have to go to my sorority meeting. These things aren’t options.” I get it. I really do. There are things on our schedule that simply cannot be avoided and cannot be rescheduled. My question is: why isn’t time with Jesus one of them?
One of my all time favorite quotes comes from Martin Luther. He’s famous for saying, “I have so much to do today that I’m going to need to spend three hours in prayer in order to be able to get it all done.” I love this perspective because it is so contrary to the way we approach our lives. When our schedule builds up, the first thing we cut down is time with Jesus. We put our nose down and get to work so that when our load is easy and burden is light, we’ll be able to come to Jesus. The only bad news is that this “season” of busyness isn’t just going to pass by. It’s here to stay. But so is Jesus. Every single day we wake up with an invitation from the King that is just waiting to be accepted. I pray that your story would not be that you “paid no attention and went off—one to class and one to work”. There’s room for Jesus today. Don’t miss out on the relief that he brings.