“How’s it going, girl?”
“Oh, you know, the usual. Just busy, busy, busy with life.”
How many of us have heard that line? Way too much. But have you ever stopped to think that maybe it shouldn’t be that way? That maybe the status quo isn’t what God wants for us, and in fact, he may have something better in store for us.
It’s taken me a long time to find a daily life of balance and making time for the things that matter most. I remember how my days in college always seemed to run together. I would wake up, never fully rested, and haphazardly start my day by drinking at least two cups of coffee. I would take a look at my planner and it would be filled in every space. Even on the edges of the paper, there were little “reminders” and things I absolutely had to get done that day.
I was always jittery and my mind was always racing. Then there were classes, studying, more coffee, newspaper meetings, sorority functions and then falling into bed for a few hours of sleep to start it all over again.
All of it seemed so fun and exciting yet I didn’t realize my mind needed rest. I was exhausted and burnt out on life. It took me longer to do a lot of tasks because I was too busy thinking about what I needed to do next. To be frank, I was a sad chicken running around with its head cut off and blindly going into each day, hoping for the best.
I bet many of you can relate to this busy lifestyle. So how can we slow down mentally and spiritually? Why does the world always expect us to keep running on a never-ending treadmill? Who made these stinkin’ rules anyways? Well, God doesn’t expect that from any of us. In fact, he wants us to do the complete opposite.
For the summer, I decided to sign up for a Bible study centered on a book titled, “How to Have a Mary Heart in a Martha World.”
This book has really changed my perspective on life. The theme of the book is from a passage in the Bible about Mary and Martha and the time when Jesus and his disciples came to stay with them in their village. Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet hanging on to every word he says, while Martha is running around the kitchen and making sure everything is perfect.
Martha becomes aggravated with her sister for not helping, and the Lord answers her with this:
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered. “You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42 (full passage)
This passage in the Bible can be overlooked, but it is so, so relatable to many women in modern times. And I have to tell you—I’m a Martha through and through. But over the past few weeks, I’m setting my sights on being more like Mary because only one thing is needed. It’s sitting at Jesus’ feet every day, not adding more tasks to my to-do list and having a pity party when things don’t go my way.
Here are some things I’ve been doing to slow down in the busyness of life:
Many of us know every day is a gift. But do we really stop and appreciate each day for what it is? I still live for the weekends, but it doesn’t mean my weekdays are worthless, no matter how mundane they are. I wake up each morning with a similar routine to essentially get my mind ready for the day. I fix breakfast, make a hot cup of coffee and read my daily devotion and pray for the worries, fears, struggles and blessings in my life. And then I leave it in God’s hands. I am able to start my day without worrying or having anxiety about something that is out of my control. And then I move forward with what I need to do that day, but I strive to do it with joy, knowing that God is beside me no matter what.
Everyone’s quiet time looks different. If you have children or a husband, it can be more difficult to find the time. For me, my quiet time is either in the morning or before I go to bed. I carve time out of my day to just read and decompress my mind before a good night’s sleep or a busy day ahead. If we never stop to just stop thinking about things we have to do, how do we really focus and find inspiration?
Here’s a shocking fact: only 8 percent of the real problems we have can be solved. The other 92 percent are undoubtedly things we can’t control, regrets of the past and criticism by others. Imagine if we only worried about that 8 percent. How much happier would we be? I put this 8 percent to the test. Every time an anxious thought entered my mind, I remembered this and something amazing happened. I shared my worries with God and left them alone. I didn’t go back and agonize over every detail of my worries.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down.” – Proverbs 12:25
The bottom line: Jesus carries our burdens for us so we don’t have to.
“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to this life?” – Matthew 6:27
There’s a big difference between someone being productive and someone going crazy because two things on their to-do list fell through. I’ve had to learn that a list is just a list and if some not-so-urgent things can’t get done one day, there is always tomorrow. And no one will beat you down for it, except yourself, of course. Instead, give yourself some grace and come to terms that you’re not superwoman. You’re only human. God doesn’t expect you to be anything else but that and neither does your family and friends.
Your self-worth is defined by your character and your faith in God. Your success is defined by what you accomplish in a lifetime, not what you can accomplish in one day. Seeing the big picture can transform your mind and let it focus on more important things than mundane daily tasks.
When I reflect on my college days, I always just remember myself being busy. I said yes to too many things and I didn’t stop and think about what I really wanted and how much I could really handle. The truth is, we don’t have to be involved in every community organization, school bake sale or volunteer event. God wants us to sit at his feet and be renewed so we can go share the good news with others.
How can we find intimacy with God if we are too busy trying to please him? How can we let others see the light that shines within in us if we are tired and burnt out on religion? We have to slow down and listen intently to what he has to say. Find that balance between work, play and quiet time. And put time and energy into a few things that bring you joy and do good for the world, but still leave time to quiet your mind and heart.
These suggestions don’t mean that you’ll never have anxiety again or that your busy days are over. They are simply reminders that when life does get hectic and stressful, there are things you can do to be at peace and find joy in the midst of it all.
What are some ways you decompress in the busyness of life?