If we were having coffee (or tea, either works for me), I would probably talk about how ridiculously busy I am right now. Lots of people talk about how busy they are, right? Sociologists and psychologists tell us that the pace of life for most Americans today is harmful to our society and our health. God seemed to know that was our tendency when He said, “Be still, and know that I am God.” The New American Standard translation begins “Cease striving.” Busyness is a problem for a lot of people. Busyness is a problem for me. Busyness is ALWAYS a problem for me. Sometimes it is worse than others, and right now is one of those seasons.
In Shauna Niequist’s daily devotional Savor, she spends a number of entries talking about how to find the balance of living out your potential without exhausting yourself. She tells about her older and wiser friend who gave her this advice:
“It’s not hard to decide what you want your life to be about. What’s hard is figuring out what you’re willing to give up in order to do the things you really care about.”
Over the next couple entries, Shauna gave lists that she sorted out in her life of the things she wanted to do (Things I Do) and the things she was deciding not to do so she could focus on what is truly important to her and her family (Things I Don’t Do). When I read them, I was struck by the realization that I’m trying to do everything on both of her lists (except I never blow dry my hair – yay for a pixie cut!) Further, there are several other major things I do in my life.
I am well aware of all of the reasons to pare down. I am well aware of all the reasons to be involved in less things. I know that how I am living is not sustainable. I know that how I am living means there is no way I can be giving several, if not most, areas of my life the attention and focus it deserves. But actually deciding what to put on the list of Things I Don’t Do? That’s hard. Really hard.
There are some things that are not optional. There are a few things that will forever and ever stay on the list of Things I Do. But that other list is a tricky matter. There are requests from my family and promptings from my friends and pleas from my church. There are my wide and varied interests. There is the seeking to be accepted. The striving to be loved. The longing to be acknowledged.
If this were a proper blog post, I suppose I would tell you what I am doing to draw some lines between Things I Do and Things I Don’t Do. I would tell you that I have figured out how to fill the internal needs that I’m trying to fill with a multitude of activities. Maybe I would tell you that I have invited God in to the discussion and have found the strength and peace to be able to say no.
But this isn’t a “proper” blog post. This is me sitting across from you at the local coffee shop or in my kitchen telling you that I don’t have any of it figured out. I have a very, very long list of Things I Do. I have a very, very short list of Things I Don’t Do. And I don’t know how to shift the balance so everything doesn’t topple over.
(The specific entries I mentioned are found on April 13-15 in Savor.)