When Busy Becomes an Identity

Many people, Americans in particular, tend to thrive on busyness and take a strange pride in it—while at the same time complaining about it. I am 100% guilty of this. When asked how I’m doing, I’ve definitely responded with, “Good! Busy, but good.” Then soon after, I talk about all the things I’ve intentionally involved myself in and how I don’t have any time off to relax.

I think there are a couple reasons we often make it a goal to be so busy that we don’t have any rest time.

Fear of Man

Sometimes we think having down time is a sign of laziness, so we busy ourselves so we can tell people about our “accomplishments”.

Procrastination

I keep myself busy with things that don’t really matter to avoid dealing with things that do. And rather than act lazy and watch Netflix all day while avoiding those things and the struggles they may bring, I fill my time with other things instead.

I think being extremely busy can easily rob us of the joy, which Christ wants us to have. If I’m so busy I can barely find time to eat or workout for 20 minutes, how can I expect to find time to rest in the peace and joy of Christ, which fills me with what I need to serve effectively?

When our lives are chaotic and stressful, we’re more prone to resentment, anxiety, irritability, and overall discontentment, as well as a host of physical health issues. Real facts show this; it’s not just my experience that does.

While our busyness can very well be a way to bless others, it’s important to take time out of our busy schedules to make sure we’re right with God. If we’re not healthy in our own spiritual lives, it can be extremely difficult to share Christ (and his joy) with others.

I’m preaching to myself when I say we need to take care of ourselves – or, more accurately, let God take care of us – before we can give wholeheartedly to our commitments and relationships.

And I’m not talking about the trendy type of “self-care” where you go get a manicure or a massage or buy yourself some new shoes. I’m talking about taking time to intentionally spend time with God and grow in relationship with him. Drop commitments if needed, invest in life-giving relationships, eat a real meal, maybe just get enough sleep on a regular basis.

I tend to stretch myself too thin because of my desire to deepen current relationships and build new ones. I usually have the right motive when I take on another commitment, but in the process I make myself so busy that I lose sight of what is ultimately important: my relationship with Christ and the ministries he has called me to.

If I were to really get to the heart of the matter, I’m probably often getting involved in different things and making myself busy in the hopes of finding belonging or fulfillment somewhere other than Christ. I’ve done this since I was a kid – I think I tried out every sport and club you could think of throughout my school years. I’ve always struggled with the idea that my presence doesn’t matter a lot of the time so I still to this day find myself getting involved in different activities, hoping that one of those will make me feel that acceptance.

But the truth is my identity is found in Christ. If I’m searching for belonging and worth in all these other things, I’m wasting time and I’m never going to find it because my worth is found in God alone.

Instead of saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity that arises (even if I really want to), I have come to the realization that I need to say ‘no’ to a lot more so I can invest time and emotions in other things I’m already involved in. Relationships and my work in ministry take a lot of emotional energy and a committed heart. If I’m getting involved in so many different things, then something is going to fall to the wayside that should probably be my focus. This is often time spent with God.

The world makes it really easy to let this happen. I’m the first to admit that I struggle with consistently reading and studying the Bible and taking time to simply sit in the presence of God. I often blame all of the stuff I’m doing and how tired I am, but the reality is I’m just not being diligent and I’m not making an effort in that aspect of my relationship with God – the most important part.

Relationship with God takes a lot of effort. Other relationships are tangible because we have people right in front of us, but with God we have to just be in his presence. With a million other things happening, I have to make a conscious effort to sit in His presence, spend time in his Word, listen, and wait. It’s a constant battle to push other thoughts and distractions aside. But I must do it.

And in order to point others to Christ, we need to be constantly seeking His truth and His Word and voice. If we’re not focusing our hearts and minds on Christ above all, then other areas of our lives will suffer. If we continually search for God and find rest in Him, then our relationships will grow deeper and our work, no matter what it is, will become joyful because of the peace and joy found find in Christ.

So in the midst of all the work, activities, and relationships we find ourselves participating in, let’s not forget to take time to rest. I must spiritually rest in God and make my relationship with Him priority over all. If that means saying ‘no’ to new opportunities or having to drop things I’m already involved in, I need to be okay with that because my identity isn’t found in those activities, but in Christ.


Sarah Moreau is a twenty-something who loves hiking, camping, reading, and going on adventures with friends. She works at a homeless shelter for women and children where she teaches, helps women obtain GEDs, guides them in pursuing education or careers, and walks with them through the difficult path of recovery from addiction and life struggles. Sarah has been writing since she was a kid – both for her own enjoyment and for others to read. On her days off, you can find Sarah reading, spending time with her 2-year-old nephew or close friends, hiking, or coming up with a new recipe in the kitchen. You can read more of her work at Problems 31 Women.


This post was adapted from a post originally posted at Problems 31 Women.

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