Guess what? You will always be busy.
We’ve been talking about being busy all summer long. I have received more feedback than normal via emails, text messages, and regular conversations about how much many of our readers have resonated with the things that we’ve been talking about each week. With just a few weeks of this series left, we want to loop it all together and bring it home.
Work really isn’t our problem. Kids aren’t our problem. Your spouse isn’t the problem. You are the problem. More specifically, your heart is the problem.
A few weeks ago at Revolve, we looked at Luke 6:43-49, “A good tree doesn’t produce bad fruit; on the other hand, a bad tree doesn’t produce good fruit. For each tree is known by its own fruit. Figs aren’t gathered from thornbushes, or grapes picked from a bramble bush. A good person produces good out of the good stored up in his heart. An evil person produces evil out of the evil stored up in his heart, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.
“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and don’t do the things I say? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them: He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. When the flood came, the river crashed against that house and couldn’t shake it, because it was well built. But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. The river crashed against it, and immediately it collapsed. And the destruction of that house was great.”
In this chapter, Jesus explains that it isn’t what is going on around you that causes you to sin (whether that is crushing anxiety, short-fused anger, panic, self-medication or whatever it might be) but what is inside your heart.
When we think about all of our sinful responses to the world around us, we tend to blame our circumstances, but the truth is that all of the stuff of life just reveals what is going on in your heart. The foundation determines the strength of the building. The type of tree determines the fruit.
In a lot of ways, we are like a big nasty tube of toothpaste, or - as my friend Jason said to me - “dirt toothpaste.” When someone applies pressure, whatever is inside comes out. What comes out is the real essence of who I am, not what the casing or the tube looks like. Your toothpaste could be a nice shiny new packaging, but if you squeeze it and dirt toothpaste comes out, you won’t use it.
The reality is that you will always be busy in a sense because life is busy. If you are constantly waiting for the next season when you can relax, when school is over, when you graduate with your bachelors, or your masters, or once your wedding planning is done, once you get that promotion, onces your children aren’t babies, once they aren’t teens in sports, once you don’t have to work two jobs to help pay for college, once you don’t have 40 doctor appointments a month, once your dead… Well, you get it - the busy season never ends.
Life is busy.
Busyness is a big problem and within it are very real dangers (hence this series), but I think there is a sense in which we are operating under the lie that we are not expected to struggle or to suffer. In the words of The Princess Bride, “Life is pain, highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something.”
In all seriousness, though, work is not a curse. We were always designed to work. There is a sense in which we were always designed to be busy. The problem is not work or busyness, the problem is that we fail to keep our hearts in check because we allow other things besides God to sit on the throne of our hearts. Our busyness reveals those realities and those struggles.
As one pastor mused, “What if life is supposed to be tough? What if mothering a newborn isn’t supposed to be easy? What if pastoring a congregation is supposed to be challenging? What if being a friend means time-consuming, burden-bearing, gloriously busy, and wildly inefficient work?” Those are good questions. Why do we think life should be sunshine, rainbows, and lollipops?
We need to learn to rest well. Even more importantly, we need to learn to rest well in Jesus (this is next week’s column). But we also need to remember that life is challenging. Raising kids comes with sleepless nights because of teething, vomit, worry, and more. Work has busy seasons and easy seasons. People die, get sick, break legs, and go through trauma. Life is challenging and committing to other people is draining.
The big challenge is not eliminating all external stimuli and stress from your life - that won’t get rid of the dirt toothpaste. The challenge is looking at your heart, surrendering it to Jesus, and realizing that your reaction to stress is the real problem.