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Your Turn: Stop and Smell the Roses

 “How are you doing?”

“Good…” (wait for it) “I’m crazy busy.”

Why is it popular to say we are so busy when asked how we are doing? We wear busyness like a badge of honor and get seemingly defensive if we get out-ranked by someone else who has more on her plate. Sometimes our conversations can lead to a face-off of who the busier person is.

Perhaps it is because we presume what others will think if we respond with the truth of what we are actually preoccupied doing. It could be that we sense an urge to make the most of the current season of life, and being busy seems to be the answer. It could also be that we truly are extremely busy, and we can’t even remember the contents of yesterday’s schedule as it had little impact on today. Whatever the case may be, it’s always safe to respond that we are busy.

I stumbled into this trap a few times only to realize that I wasn’t doing myself any favors. By declaring my crazed schedule, I distanced myself from friends and opportunities because they assumed I wouldn’t be available. While thinking I was only listing off my responsibilities, I was sounding like I was over-stressed. Eventually I started believing the phrase that I had so much going on. Yet when I recall that season, I couldn’t tell you what I was doing apart from rushing from one event to another. Granted, they were good events — even necessary — which I was committed to. I may have been working at a job, studying for a test, or volunteering at church, but I was doing them with a lack of focus.

I needed to slow down. While I didn’t quit my job, drop out of school, or give up my commitments to my church, I committed to put the brakes on activities that stifled my purpose or blurred the picture of what the Lord was painting in my life. Instead of filling every minute of my day with action, I first asked myself what I would accomplish by scheduling a specific item. I became focused on intentionally seeking how I could be a part of fulfilling God’s plan in my life and others. I didn’t fill every moment of dead space with noise and activities. I became still when I needed to be still so I could hear what the Lord was directing me toward. I became real with people because my concentration changed from what was going on with me to what was going on with them. I even stopped saying I was busy all the time.

A funny thing happened this evening. I was waiting at a subway stop to go home, and it was taking much longer than I would have liked. It was a late night already, and getting home to prepare for the next day preoccupied my thoughts. When the train finally arrived, I headed toward it, knowing that I only had a few seconds to embark, or I would be stuck waiting another extended period for the next one. Somehow I happened to notice a blind man walking toward a car of the train that was closed for maintenance. If the man continued in that direction, he would have been waiting (or even hurt). If I turned back to get him, I also could be waiting for the next train.

I was stunned by my next move, because I found myself rushing back to the man to guide him to the operating section of the train despite the fact our time was running out. When we both actually made it safely inside, instead of being happy at our success, I was dismayed. I realized that I probably would have previously missed that entire situation because I would have been too busy to notice. I would have been checking my email in the waiting time or some other activity to derail my impatience with the waiting. Had this happened before, I may have even resisted helping him to ensure I could get on the train in time. I don’t like to think about that.

First Thessalonians 5:24 says, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” Tweet This I don’t have to worry about how something is going to get done. The Lord is the One doing the work. My responsibility is to heed what our faithful God is doing and let Him guide me to what fulfills His plan. Instead of being busy doing my work, I’m praying to be busy doing what the Lord wants me to do. I communicate with others with transparency as they see the real me and not the busy me.

Go ahead — ask me how I’m doing.

“Good…” (wait for it) “How about you?”

Ashley Brannon works for Focus on the Family with the External Relations department. Her only claim to fame was that she was once a Guinness World Record holder in a group category for creating a human tunnel. Her record has since been broken.

If you would like to contribute a post to the Boundless blog’s “Your Turn” Friday feature, see “Writers Wanted” for more details.

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