Mommy Monday: The Idolatry of Busyness

http://www.dreamstime.com/-image14510036As I write this, we are coming out of our family vacation. Now I am one of those people who have a hard time “just” sitting still and doing nothing. We drove up to visit my husband’s family this year for our trip, which took us a few days each way. It was very hard for me to “just” sit in the car and enjoy the scenery before me. Something inside me feels—should I say—guilty—for doing nothing. Why is that? I often feel like I need to justify my downtime (“I’ve been working on a big project for the past two months, so I deserve a break.”) or have a very good reason to take a nap (“I feel a cold coming on.”) When I am in a group with other mothers, I almost get the impression that we are almost proud of how busy we are, how many groups we are involved in, or how much time we spend chauffeuring our kids around. I know that I also feel a little embarrassed if I’m not doing as much as others.

If I am going to be honest here, I know that I have idolized busyness, because I have linked it to my sense of worth. I have bought into the lie of our society that my value is based on how much I produce or how much I accomplish. The more I do, the more important I must be, right?

I tend to get into this pattern of working myself to the bone, taking on one thing after another, keeping myself busy, lest I appear unproductive in the eyes of others. However, if that’s the case, then I am busy for the wrong reasons. I have realized that I can be busy but do nothing of true eternal value. Or worse yet, I can be busy and delude myself into thinking that I am doing something of value when in the bigger scope of life, it does not fulfill God's eternal plans.

On the flip side, some of the most important things I can do require me not to be busy. Things like simply being present—to God, to my family, to those I am with in the present moment. Sometimes what is needed most, what is most productive, is being fully available to what is going on around me. Some moments, once they pass, are lost forever. And those things cannot be replaced.

I realized how hard this was for me while I was on our vacation. I felt restless. It took me a long time to stop moving and just start enjoying our time together. It’s the same way at home. It is so hard for me to not keep busy. If I am truly honest, I do worship this god of busyness with this incessant need to keep going. Another hint is the guilt that sets in when I stop.

It is easy for me to talk myself into thinking that I am quite virtuous with my busy life. And maybe some of you truly are. But I know for myself, I am guilty of going, going, going—and it’s not always for the right reasons.

Heavenly Father, I confess that I am not always in tune with what you are doing because I have bought into the lie that my worth is based on my productivity. Because of this, I have failed to truly engage in what is truly important and substituted it with things that are less. Will you please open my eyes to see what You see and help me to discern the difference between merely busy and truly important? Thank You for time away to remind me of the things that are important to You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

It's hard not to be busy as a mother. How do you know when you are too busy? What steps have you taken to keep things in balance? What has the Lord taught you in these busy seasons of life?