Life has been extremely, over the top busy. And I have desperately wanted to write. However, I have not had the mental or time capacity to write. As I mentioned life has been busy. Too busy, actually. I, often, find myself in these seasons of being overcommitted. And I have asked myself why that is. Because, at this point, it is no longer "seasons" of over commitment. It has become "patterns" of over commitment.
It's definitely something to explore. Many of us do it. We find ourselves continually in a state of extreme busyness with too many commitments. For some of us, it is simply a season that will pass. However, it is so important to be honest with yourself when it has become a pattern. We can spend our entire lives in this pattern, if we are not careful. We may achieve and accomplish many things, but at what expense?
At the expense of our personal health, spiritually, emotionally, physically, or mentally? At the expense of our family and friends? At the expense of our relationship with God?
And, if that is the case, is it really worth it? Does God find value and pleasure in our over committed schedules and activities? I don't think so.
And it is not just us that we over commit. We over commit our children. We say yes to too many activities, and too many good things. As a result, they are brought up to believe to be busy is to be fruitful.
But does busyness mean fruitfulness? I don't think it is that simple. I think to live fruitful lives that honor God, it's just not that simple. To be fruitful is not simply a matter of our full schedule and many great accomplishments, it is also a matter of our heart, soul, spirit, and mind.
We are reminded of that in the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10. Martha was busy and distracted by many things. Jesus said that only one thing was necessary and important, and Mary chose it. To sit at His feet. That makes it pretty clear what God says about "busyness". Yet, it is so difficult to remember when the world encourages busyness in adults and children. The more you do the better. The harder you work, the greater the reward. The more activities you are engaged in, the smarter and more successful you will be.
God's Word instructs us to "not become weary in well doing" (Gal 6:9). That is enough of a battle in itself. But, there comes a point where it is no longer weary we are staying strong against, it's burn out we are fighting.
We can do a lot of good things, and God will give us the strength to do more than we even think we are capable of. Busyness, when balanced, is not a negative thing. Yet, there comes a point when we have surpassed the amount that God would have us do, and as a result, we are facing burn out.
I think to prevent burn out, we must first know what causes us to find ourselves in these patterns of overcommitment and busyness. Usually it goes beyond not being able to say no to others, it's really not being able to say no to ourselves.
Before any of that, we must be honest with ourselves, and admit that there is nothing healthy or balanced about these patterns. Regardless of the positive outcomes, the good things accomplished, or the success made - we must believe and accept that "the end DOES NOT justify the means". If these things are causing patterns of chaos and stress - they are not worth it and are not what God is calling us to.
I am continually on a journey to figure this thing out in my own heart and life. Why do I find myself in these patterns of overcommitment and busyness?
Here are some questions I am asking. These are not easy questions with easy, quick answers. Yet, these are questions, if answered honestly and transparently will give some insight into why we fall into these patterns. At the very least, it's a start to understanding ourselves and preventing burn out. We may not answer yes to every question, but they are reflective questions which will cause us to internally examine our hearts and motivations. Kinda like when the Psalmist encourages us to ask God to "search our hearts". :)
1. Does my life feel chaotic?
2. Has my busy life become a pattern in that it is, even with small breaks of rest, repeatedly too busy. A cycle that just keeps continuing...
3. Do I find self worth or value in feeling needed or important? If so, then I will say yes to as many things as possible because - why - it feels good to be asked to do things! It shows I am needed. And if I say no, they may not ask again or they may find someone else. I will say yes, because the feeling of accomplishing a task makes me feel important. I think everyone fights this a little.
4. Does the feelings of fulfillment that come from achieving goals or accomplishing tasks get confused with the fulfillment that comes from operating in my life's dreams and calling? Because they are not always the same. If you are a goal oriented person or an achiever - it can become very convoluted. Simply because you can find yourself fulfilled in accomplishing tasks, goals, and solving problems doesn't always mean you are fulfilling dreams and a calling.
5. Do I stay busy to stay distracted? In other words, am I trying to avoid dealing with unhealthy areas of my heart, soul, spirit, and mind? Are there areas of my life that I am unhappy with or lack discipline, therefore using a busy schedule to keep from having to deal with them?
6. Am I uncomfortable with times of rest and quiet or do I actually even allow myself times of rest and quiet?
7. Do I thrive in problem solving, accomplishing tasks, achieving goals, etc.? If yes, then do I understand and acknowledge the boundaries that need to be created to make sure I do not find myself habitually overcommitted? (This is a big one for me.) We cry out, "But, God, this is the way you made me!" Yet, even though God has gifted us to do these things well or created us with a passion for these things, good things still need boundaries - otherwise the very things that can be life giving and provide energy, will be the very things that break us.
When we are busy we lose the value of creativity and reflection. God, in His grace, works in and through our times of overcommitment. Yet, I know that it is not God's best for us. When we are busy, we cannot find ourselves still before Him. We miss opportunities to hear His voice, and we miss opportunities to love Him and others well.