Photography // Hope Hickman @sincerelyhope.designs
I’ll be honest. I have no idea how often I say that I’m busy. I probably say it a lot because I like to be busy. I’m better when I’m busy. I’ve been like this since I was young. But that’s a story for another day.
Several Sundays ago, our preacher gently encouraged us to stop using busy as a badge of honor. I’ve never quite thought about it that way. How often do you ask someone how they are and they reply by saying they’re busy? And how often do they say that with a little sigh, like, “Whew!” When we say we’re busy, it really can come off as though we think we deserve some sort of medal for the amount of stuff we’re doing. Sometimes it’s in the way we say it. But sometimes it’s just that we say it.
I’m waiting for the person that says, “I’ve got all the time in the world! I just don’t know what to do with all this time on my hands. In fact, I’m actually looking for stuff to do!” We’re all busy. You have deadlines to meet at work. You take on more responsibilities to further your career. You volunteer at a local nonprofit organization. You’re in a Bible study or small group. You’re trying to spend quality time with your spouse. You’re running your kids to the fifteen extracurricular activities that they’re involved in – even if they aren’t in school yet. Your kids are older, and now they need your help for other tasks. And you’re trying to do everything and do it all well.
Even the single guy who leaves work at a decent hour to get back to his apartment is busy. He may be home, but he’s probably tidying up his place, making dinner, working out, and doing laundry. And yes, going to the gym doesn’t compare to getting home to take care of a child. But this guy chose to be busy going to the gym whereas someone else may choose to be busy working more hours, studying for school, or taking care of their child. None of the types of busy are any more right than another; they’re just different kinds of busy. We decide how we want to spend our time. Life is, after all, a sum of all of our choices.
Let me take this a step further by saying, let’s also stop qualifying our busy-ness. I speak as much to myself here as anyone else because I get over-involved. I’m better now at enjoying and prioritizing free time than I ever have been, but I still like to keep a full plate. I’m sure there are plenty of times that I chime in as soon as someone else rattles off whatever they’re busy doing, too. But I really don’t want to come off with a look-at-me attitude, nor do I want to complain about how busy I am. I like being busy, but I want to be intentional in not throwing my busy-ness in people’s faces.
Be busy or don’t. We’re all entitled to our own choice about the matter. But let’s be mindful to not seek a badge of honor for being busy. We live by the choices we make, but we don’t all get badges for them – and nor should we.
So the next time someone asks how you are, avoid the “Oh, I’m so busy!” response. Let’s intentionally try to quit saying this. The badge of business is not a badge of honor, so let’s stop striving for it.