“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in spirit, and you will find rest for your souls.” – Matthew 11:29
What have I got going on this week? Oh wow. That’s a lot of stuff. I don’t know how I’m going to have time to do homework, get work done for this club, talk to my mom, spend time with my girlfriend, hang out with friends, read my Bible, oh and I guess eat. I also just got ten emails in its not even 10am.
Have you been there before? I know I have. I just don’t know how I’m going to fit everything in to my busy schedule. Anxiety begins to set in. Stress starts to make my head hurt. I already feel overwhelmed and it’s a Monday. But when Friday rolls around, I realize that all the time I spent stressed and anxious were really wasted minutes. Everything got done on time, I got to talk to my mom, I took my girlfriend out to dinner, I saw a movie with my friends, I had ample time in my Bible and I ate regularly. Also, most of the emails didn’t pertain to me.
But what happens? Monday rolls around and the stress sets in, a cyclical routine worn by the seemingly demanding pressures of everyday life. Why can’t I just, as overly quoted from Disney’s Frozen, let it go?
I’d like to posit why we don’t want to escape this routine then come back with how we can escape, become productive, and find rest.
Whether we would like to admit it or not, we love being busy. Even when we think we’re complaining about being so busy we’re really just stroking our egos. Mason Slater writes, “It’s just backhanded bragging, like complaining that you didn’t expect learning Spanish to be so much work after you had such high scores in French, German and fifth-century Latin.”
This type of bragging reveals something deeper within us: our struggle with pride. Yet pride can come in many different facets and sundry ways. Kevin DeYoung, in his outstandingly (short) book, Crazy Busy, writes that, “Pride is the villain with a thousand faces.” We let ourselves become busy because we are people pleasers, we live for praise, we evaluate our performance based on being “indispensible,” we want more stuff, we want to prove something, we want sympathy, we’re poor planners, we love power, we’re perfectionists, and we seek prestige.
The truth is, a lot of us want to stay in this cycle because we’re very prideful. I see this in myself all the time. I don’t like to say no to people because I want their praise. It feels good to be needed. Brady Boyd writes, “I like how success feels. I don’t want to unplug. I don’t want to relax. The last thing I crave is rest. I’m a recovering speed-and-wild-success junkie who never wants to come down, and to allow any semblance of white space is to cause the undesirable effects of withdrawal.”
The one thing we forget to realize is that while being busy can be a gift; it can also be a self-defeating sin. DeYoung continues, “We all have a cross to carry. But it’s a cross that kills our sins, smashes our idols, and teaches us the folly of self-reliance. It’s a cross that says I’ll do anything to follow Jesus, not a cross that says I have to do everything for Jesus.”
Jesus had to have understood this. He was probably a pretty busy guy. Being the Son of God can take a real toll on your social life. He traveled, healed, ministered, strengthened, prayed, ate, taught, rebuked, wept, walked on water, and carried a cross. Jesus was in the business of redeeming His people and business was good. Jesus was busy yet still found time to get away from it all to pray alone (Mark 1:35).
I submit we have allowed our busyness to overtake significant portions of our lives, and in effect we have told God we can handle it ourselves. This is a dangerous place to be. A place I have gone to often and have been rebuked from on several occasions.
So how can we find rest? How can we still remain productive with our busy calendars? DeYoung says to embrace being busy. “If you have creativity, ambition, and love, you will be busy…It’s not a sin to be busy. It’s not wrong to be active.” But, “the antidote to busyness of soul is not sloth and indifference. The antidote is rest, rhythm, death to pride, acceptance of our own finitude, and trust in the providence of God.”
Start your day off with devoted time to the Bible and prayer. Start each day off with eternity so that the finite seems more manageable to grasp. I have seen a significant change in my habits after I start off each day with an hour in prayer and in the Word.
Throughout the week seek solitude. Take a nap. Go for a run. Crochet. Read for pleasure. Watch Netflix. Don’t let those become distractions for your work but rather let them become outlets for you to breathe above the waves of your busy life.
As Christ said, in Him “you will find rest for your souls.” DeYoung closes by writing, “Do not be surprised when you face crazy weeks of all kinds. And do not be surprised when God sustains you in the midst of them.”
He will sustain you. Rest in His embrace, be still, and know that He is God.