Radiant Joy Blog

In a Hurry? Called to Overcome Busyness

In December 2019, I read a description of the kind of woman a transformational lifestyle program called Juicy Woman Universe-ity was designed to help, and that woman sounded awfully much like me—always in a hurry–doing, doing, and overdoing; running around and working hard to cross everything off her task list, but never quite feeling “caught up.” Sometimes I felt overwhelmed. I got caught up in the busyness of life. Other days I felt proud of how much I could get done in a day. But it took tremendous trying, pushing, skimping on sleep and self-care. Because a lot of my To Do List was “for God,” I rationalized that what kept me busy seemed like the right way to spend my time. 

A few months later, isolated at home with my working-via-Zoom husband, I walked into the kitchen for lunch, and he’d found a country station playing Alabama’s “I’m in a Hurry (And Don’t Know Why).” He gently directed me to pay attention to the lyrics, especially the refrain: 

“I’m in a hurry to get things done

Oh, I rush and rush until life’s no fun

All I really gotta do is live and die

But I’m in a hurry and don’t know why.”

I’ve listened to that song often since then. I intentionally slowed down—or tried to. I did important inner work and made significant lifestyle changes during the past three pandemic years. I increased my daily quiet time in God’s Presence, amping up my listening, journaling, and Bible study. I read inspirational books, participated in online and in-person prayer groups, helped with our grandkids, helped start a new Unbound ministry team, repeatedly repented, and worshiped. But I was still managing my compulsion to cross off tasks rather than allowing transformation into a person free of obsessive self-judging about what I’d accomplished or not accomplished.  

Allegedly to figure out how to eliminate my email backup, I decided to work with Barbara Hemphill (whom I’d known and loved for decades as a faith-filled organizing expert). However, she knew I actually needed to accelerate the vision of my ideal life. She challenged me to identify my real priorities and then to strongly dismantle the overgrown task list. I eliminated 80% of it that very day. Then she got me to agree not to do more than 3 items per day from the list so I could finish each day feeling good rather than feeling I’d failed. 

A few days later, I found myself sitting at my desk with that day’s three tasks done and time on my hands. It was all I could do not to try to do more and cross tasks off. I went for the chocolate. I felt tremendous angst. I re-checked my email. I cleared the top of my desk. Then I called Ryan, one of our adult children, who pointed out that I was going through withdrawal from an addiction, an addiction to busyness. That was absolutely correct! I prayed for the grace to overcome the busyness addiction, to defeat that enemy, and to be set free!   

I remembered how, when I wrote Reap As You Sew: Spirit at Work in Quiltmaking in 2014, I identified myself as a Martha–the sister of Lazarus and Mary, to whom Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you worry about many things. Mary has chosen the better part,” sitting at the feet of Jesus, being with him. (Luke 10:14) But this time, I took it to heart. Of course, I still do tasks, but now I know they are not my master. I keep asking the Holy Spirit to identify what to say “yes” or “no” to. I ask which three tasks to do each day (if any), and the Holy Spirit seems only too happy to counsel me, accompany me, and convict me when I stray.

How about you? Are you in a hurry? Might you need the Holy Spirit to help you overcome busyness so you can choose the better part of your one short life on earth? See (or ask for) my January 2023 Radiant Joy Newsletter for tips on paring down your To Do List. (And if you weren’t on my email list in January 2023 and would like to see those practical suggestions, email info@radiantjoy.us and request a copy of that newsletter.)


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