Write work emails. Cook dinner tonight. Prepare healthy lunches this week. Work out at the gym. Skype Mom. Go to Bible study. Meet friends for coffee.
I find myself getting more and more restless the longer my to-do list becomes. Some days I feel like it’s the same old routine. And it’s those days in particular, when I’m feeling tired and stressed, that the monotony of routine really gets to me.
All of these things—coffee dates, home cooking, exercise—are good things, but I have found that a perpetual state of busyness has the potential to make or break me.
You can’t do it all. Something has to give.
The pressure to say ‘No, not tonight’ was too overwhelming. The thought of not ticking off the next thing off my checklist of tasks and priorities filled me with dread. It sounds melodramatic but I bet you have a sense of what I’m talking about. Admit it.
Captive By Our Schedules
One thing that has been on my heart a lot lately is the idea of being held captive to our schedules. And before you start chucking your massive planner highlighting every single planned activity at me, let me just clarify to you now that I am in no way saying being busy is a bad thing.
I get it. We are all busy. Each of us has a list of demands that need our attention. So don’t worry “go-getters,” your busyness is not a bad thing.
What I am suggesting is that we look at our mindsets. Do we have a busy state of mind? Are you so overwhelmed by endless to-do lists that you find yourself snapping at your best friend or your spouse? Or maybe your well-being has taken a back seat, and things like going to the gym or cooking a healthy meal seem like unattainable goals right now.
This is a busy state of mind—when life is going by so fast and we can’t push the “pause” button and in the mad rush of day-to-day living, we are missing out on those opportunities to bless and to be blessed. Sometimes, we’re the ones reluctant to hit that ‘pause’ button because we like that we are busy. Busy makes us feel important.
It makes us feel a sense of worth.
This is what I like to call the “Martha mindset.”
The Martha Mindset
Part of me feels for Martha of the New Testament—I mean the poor girl was just trying to get her stuff together because, after all, Jesus was her house guest! Can you even imagine? But instead of being with Jesus, instead of sitting down and speaking to him about His ministry, instead of hearing stories about all the amazing miracles He performed, she busies herself around the house.
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’ (Luke 10:38-42)
The main thing that stands out to me in this passage is that Jesus calls Martha distracted.
I wouldn’t think to describe busy people as distracted. Maybe preoccupied or determined, but distracted wouldn’t be my first word choice here. But ultimately, our “Martha mindset” does distract us. It keeps us so ridiculously busy that we find ourselves missing out on the important stuff, some of these moments we may never get again.
I don’t know about you, but I often find that it’s when I’m most busy that the really important stuff happens to me. My friend calls late at night needing to talk. Or my husband and I need to have a heart-to-heart. In the middle of a stressful work day, there’s an opportunity for me to encourage a colleague at work.
But if I’m too busy with my own stuff, with my plans, my deadlines and my appointments, I am almost 100 percent sure that I will miss out on these opportunities. I will miss out on these incredible moments that God has set out before me to bless others and to be blessed. They will pass me by if I’m not careful.
It has happened before.
It will happen again if I don’t prioritize my priorities better.
Self-Worth in Busyness?
If there’s anything I’ve learned from my experience of “adulting, it’s this: our busyness doesn’t nor can it define who we are. Our state of busyness doesn’t dictate our worth or our value as a human being.
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of feeling a sense of importance with a schedule full of back-to-back appointments. But if we are missing out opportunities to hear from God or speak truth into other people’s lives, then what’s really the point of all this anyway?
Today, I am choosing to leave my Martha mindset at the door and allow God to work in the busyness of my life.
This will require me to take an active approach in listening to Him, and sometimes saying ‘no’ to other things. It’s the constant practice of being in His presence and enjoying the sweetness of little moments.
For someone who’s not a naturally patient person, I would be lying if I said I find this to be easy.
Let’s not become too busy to hear from our Father. And I guarantee that our hectic schedules won’t seem so hectic anymore. In fact, I think we’ll find that our to-do lists might even get longer but we’ll have more patience and more endurance to do all that we aspire to do. All because we let God work through us.
Rachel Moreland is a US expat, writer and coffee lover living in Scotland. Check out her blog - With love from Rachel – for more articles on faith & mental health.