Our Strange Love for Busyness

March 21, 2013

Nearly everyone I know is too busy. Ask someone how they’re doing and it seems like 9 out of 10 times they’ll say good or bad and then add on, “I’m just really busy, ya know?” And I do know, because I feel pretty busy at times too. It just seems like there is always so much to do. And while we can complain right and left about how we are stressed and tired out by our busyness, I think if we really investigated the situation what we would actually find out is that most of us, in fact, have a love for busyness.


I love music. So it tends to work itself into a lot of aspects of my life. I’m constantly listening to it, singing it, buying it, playing it, and sometimes even writing it. Stay with me here, I’m about to make the connection. However, I do not love cleaning. And so while I may clean here and there I’m not compulsive about it like some people I know. They actually enjoy it and will do it to relax. Bizarre, I know.

Now since I don’t like cleaning I don’t find myself doing it all that often. But while some of us would say we don’t like being busy why is it that we find ourselves surrounded by it – like my love for music – rather than barely going towards it on occasions – like my affections for cleaning? I would argue it’s because deep down we actually do love being busy. Here are some reasons why this seems to be true.

1.  It distracts us from parts of our life we’d like to avoid.

Sadly, this is what so many tend to do in their life. There are those parts we’d rather not look at – our failing marriage, our sense of loneliness, our failures, our sins, our lack of accomplishment, and so on. We each have our list of these. And sometimes to avoid having to deal with them we just stay busy. We look around to this and that and all those things we need to do so that we don’t have to stop and look at what junk is sitting in the corners of our lives.

2.  It gives us a sense of significance.

With busyness we feel important. We feel like without us things just wouldn’t be the same. We tell ourselves that if we just kicked back and relaxed then things would fall apart soon after! We think of all the people depending on us to produce and to do and think of how big our role in this life is.

3.  It puts on a good show.

And oh how we love to tell people we’re busy!! “I’d love to but I’m not sure I can. I’m just really busy.” Oh, I see, you’re just very important and so you will have to check your calendar. Our busyness, our unavailability, our demand all seems to be a living and active resume that we can give to anyone at any time. And the busier we are the more important we appear.

But here is why our love for busyness can be really damaging to our God-given identities:

1.  It distracts us from parts of our life we’d like to avoid.

Those parts we don’t want to look at – they need dealt with. They don’t need to be breezed over in a busied rush. They need careful attention so they can be addressed and solved or healed. Otherwise we let mold grow in the corners of our inner lives.

2.  It gives us a sense of significance.

One day we will die and/or be unable to accomplish all we can right now. Then we will realize that life goes on. This is why we must sleep. This is why God commanded us to Sabbath. It’s all to remind us that our significance simply can’t be grounded in our busyness and actions.

3.  It puts on a good show.

Who cares that you’re busy? You do. I care that I’m busy. But no one else does. So I’ve cut “busy” out of my vocabulary. Because 9 out of 10 times I was saying it subconsciously to appear more important than I really am. Jesus simply must have been the one with the greatest right to saying He was busy and not a single time do you ever get the sense that He was too busy for anything or anyone. That ought to tell us something!

Busyness can make us feel good (believe it or not) in the immediate moment. Ultimately, however, it leaves us with hands that are so busy doing that they don’t have time to have the blessings of God poured into them. Slow down, cut out, simplify, stop, meditate, Sabbath, quiet down – and live.