It’s my go-to excuse / justification / legit reason for a handful of questions:
“Where have you been lately?” –> I’ve been busy.
“What’s new in your life?” –> I’ve been busy.
“Have you showered yet this week?” –> Um, I’ve been busy?
It’s a blanket response that does a pretty good job of covering all of my overcommitment and the things I can’t even name that soak up minutes and hours of my day. It’s a better answer than I’ve been watching lots of One Direction YouTube videos lately. Very time consuming. (Hey, it happens.)
I’ve had trouble saying no ever since I’ve been old enough to grasp the concept of letting someone down. I say yes to things all the time (favors, freelance projects, social events, anything really) that I just don’t have the physical or emotional stamina to take on without going slightly crazy. Ok, so I could use a seminar or a book on tape about time management. Guilty! But still, I constantly find myself agreeing to things that end up making me busy and stressed out because I’m afraid to disappoint someone by saying no.
But just a few days ago I took a vow, friends. It’s a vow only to myself, but it has the potential to affect a lot of other people I love, so I’m letting you in on it to keep me accountable. (Thanks in advance.) I have vowed to be unbusy until further notice. (Further notice = whenever I feel like it. I’m a grownup!)
I’ve been in the habit of filling up all the time in my day with something. I’ve believed the myth that being busy and productive gives meaning to my life. I’ve taken on new commitments to keep my mind occupied instead of allowing myself to process shitty life stuff. I’ve made myself believe that I’m supposed to possess some kind of divine energy that allows me to give and give on a perpetually full tank. But none of that has fulfilled me or led me to a more complete and whole life. What I need, at least for this season (however long it may be), is rest.
Even Jesus had to rest. He fell asleep in a boat full of disciples in the middle of a wild storm. Raging waves, thunder, lightning, a bunch of smelly dudes panicking on a little wooden boat — and he managed to sleep through it. All I can think when I hear that story is Jesus must have been so tired. Of course he was tired. He was busy.
But there’s a certain level of guilt that comes with saying no, even to the smallest thing. Yesterday a cashier asked for my email address. I told her I’d rather not provide it (which was actually a first for me), and immediately a wave of regret came over me. Was that rude? She was just doing her job! What’s the harm in saying yes? Just tell her yes! But I was surprised by her response. She said, “Ha! I’d rather not, too! My inbox gets so full with stuff I don’t want!” Thank you, cashier lady, for validating my new lease on life.
I’ve become more introverted as I’ve gotten older. When I was younger, I didn’t know how to be by myself. I craved social interaction because I equated being alone with being lonely. But over the years, I’ve come to cherish the time I spend by myself. It’s in those alone times when I find rest. The kind of rest that fills me up and renews my spirit. The kind of rest I find when I read and write and learn and pray and just exist. When no one else expects anything from me. When I’m not on a schedule. Those are the times I miss when I say yes to too many things.
In my pursuit to be more like Jesus, selflessness is always on my mind. I want to be an example of his love through my own self denial. He was and is the world’s most perfect picture of those characteristics. But he also often left the crowds to be by himself, to pray alone in the wilderness. He needed time alone so he could continue pouring himself out to everyone he encountered. His need for rest and retreat didn’t make him any less selfless. It allowed him to give more of himself. So I have to believe he’s ok with my vow of unbusyness. Jesus and cashier lady are definitely both on my team right now.
My prayer for the next few weeks and months is that my saying no will actually allow me to say yes. Yes to life-giving relationships. Yes to spontaneous days and nights. Yes to learning something new. Yes to being the best friend / sister / daughter I can be. And that time spent in reflection will be a healing reminder that I am sustained and restored by grace alone.
There’s also a 100% chance it will allow me to say yes to a few more boy band internet videos and hopefully some more showers. I’m only human, people.