It can be a seemingly innocent question, most often said to strike up a conversation with a stranger or friend, something to fill the void when you might not want to go too deep, similar to, “how are you today?” If you’re asking a friend, you probably want an honest answer. Not a friend? Then you really don’t care all that much. After all, it’s just words to fill a void, just a polite pleasantry… or is it?
Occasionally, in my experience of being questioned as to whether or not I was ‘staying busy’, the inquiry came from a fellow church member or Christian. Depending on who was asking, I could say, “Oh yes, very busy!” and then follow-up with a litany of tasks and obligations, followed with groans, sighs, eye-ball rolling, and facial grimaces to emphasize the sheer exhaustion of my Very Important Life. This technique came in handy if I sensed an upcoming request to join in with some well-intentioned Christian busy-ness that for the most part, was being busy for busy’s sake. So, in other words… I lied. So there you have it! 100 lashes with a wet noodle for me!
Then again, I may have been busy with the aforementioned activities–but, isn’t everyone busy? If you have a family, children, job, home, and church, you are busy! That’s okay too! But my point here is that if you’re not busy, folks think you lead a ho-hum life–and God forbid our lives appear boring to others! However, there is an exception to this– not that my life may not be boring (and this is one of the perks of getting older) but we No-Longer-Young-Whipper-Snappers don’t give a whit about a lot of the things we used to care about; like what other people think about our activities, or getting a tan, or staying out late, or what kind of car we drive, or even about an extra inch (or two) around our waist. We’re into enjoying the little things in life, like remembering why we went into the next room on our first go-round, and coming up with the correct words/name to describe a situation, location, and remembering someone’s first name… these are our little victories–and we don’t give a rip if we’re not busy! I think the rub is when the question as to whether or not we are busy, actually translates to, “If you’re not staying busy, then you aren’t very important and you probably lead a very boring life.”
But I’m a rabble rouser, I like to cause trouble. I like to say the unexpected, and I don’t care that I’m not important and that I may very well lead a boring life (it’s not boring to me). I have a new technique now, and just the other day I put it into practice with the food store clerk… As he bagged my purchases, he asked, “Are you staying busy?” I raised my eyebrows, and with an innocent look replied, “I don’t want to stay busy!” My other list of replies that I’ve yet to try out are as follows: “Not if I can help it”, “I will be until I get caught”, and “No, thank God! Hell’s bells, what’s so great about staying busy?
Here’s what I know for a fact, and this is why I don’t need to stay busy, or appear to be busy. Jesus was not busy for busy-ness sake, he was purposeful. Purposeful! I am certain that God does not intend for his children to be running around like chickens with their heads cut off. When life got too busy, when the crowds swarmed, when there was no room left on the calendar to pencil anything in, Jesus withdrew to a quiet place to rest and recharge. His life work was certainly not judged by how busy He was.
A few weekends ago, I was a real rebel. I pretty much did nothing ‘important’. I hung out with my husband and we attended a local band concert. We then drove up to a nearby lake and as he fished, I sat, looked around and snacked. I soaked up the warm sunlight, smelled the air and water, walked on the sand, listened to gulls and took note of flocks of white pelicans sweeping across the water. When we stopped in at the Easter Sunrise Cross, we noticed the disappearing sunlight of the day made the wild grasses appear silver. We came back home and cooked out, ate, and then later, went to bed.
I thought about this thing called ‘busy’–it’s highly overrated. And doing ‘nothing’ is highly underrated.