I don’t know about you guys, but this is the time of year for me that I feel 100% burnt out. I know I have to rally before the holidays, but until then, it seems like time just creeps along, my to-do lists get longer and longer, and all I want to do is sleep. Ultimately, I blame it on the time change.
But each year around this time, I get more and more frustrated by this exact fact. Everyone tells me that I run my life too fast–that I “go, go, go” too much. But what can I say? I like doing things: I’m a doer. You need something done? I got you. I am almost always the first to volunteer for that thing that no one wants to do simply because it needs to get done. (Unless it’s the dishes. I just can’t bring myself to do dishes willingly…)
I think this mentality of “doing” is very consistent with our culture.
Our culture is “go, go, go” FOR SURE. As I sit here on my balcony, I’ve watched multiple cars flying in and out of the parking lot. Everyone going somewhere, doing something, whatever their agenda is. I’m a middle school youth minister, and I have parents telling me all the time that it seems like they spend more time in the cars, driving their kids to sports practices, dance rehearsals, music lessons, tutoring, PTA meetings, church events, and the list goes on seemingly forever. We seem to pride those who are always “doing” things, even when we don’t know the whole story.
Now, I tend to think this idea of “I have to do everything” is rooted in a good place. When I was a child, I was always taught to do what is expected of you because it helps others and someone is depending on you. I was always encouraged to “get involved”–isn’t that what every single college orientation person has preached to every little freshman?
Frankly, that’s always how I’ve lived my life. Plus, a lot of what all of us “do” is innately good: you can’t tell me attending a church function is bad for your soul.
But we’ve created a culture that doesn’t believe in “saying no.” Our culture doesn’t think down time is acceptable because that’s time you could be using to be productive. We don’t appreciate when people take a little time to themselves–a little “time off”– because that’s “selfish.”
I came across Selena Gomez’s acceptance speech at last year’s AMC awards, and I love what she shared:
“I think it’s safe to say that a lot of you know a lot of my life whether I liked it or not and I had to stop. Because I had everything, and I was absolutely broken. And I kept it together and I swore I would never let you down, but I kept it too much together to where I let myself down.”
We put up this front that says “I’ve got it all together” but in reality, our stress level couldn’t be much higher on a day to day basis. We live in this world of “chronic stress” where it rarely seems to go away. And of course, none of us want to live like that…but we do.
You see, when we get too busy, we get too busy for ourselves. And we get too busy for the people around us. And we get too busy for an authentic relationship with our God who runs after us.
We get too busy to see anything but the finish line of one project and the starting line of the next. We miss out on the moments in between or get too stressed to enjoy them.
So during this holiday season, during this busy time of year, I invite you to “say no,” refocus, and act in the way which brings you fulfillment. Say no to that Instagram shot, put down the phone, and simply enjoy the moment instead. Turn off Netflix and have a conversation with someone instead. Go outside with your cup of coffee and inhale. Lay on the floor with your kids…or your dog. Grab impromptu dinner with friends and stay there until you’re one of the last ones to leave. Try a new recipe, and when it fails, eat what you can and then throw it away, laughing about the adventure. Print out your pictures and put them in a book so that your kids–who, let’s be real, probably will not be on Instagram or Facebook in ten years–can see what moments were important to you.
In my youth group program, I have a rule when we meet: be here. For them, that means, put your phones away. But for me, that means invest in what’s in front of you, because relationships matter. People matter. Our God, who gave everything for us and is so patient with us, matters.
This is a reminder to myself as much as it is a thought for you to ponder: what is most important in your life? Are the things you deal with urgently all that urgent, or are they just important? Because there’s a difference, and we need to get back to remembering that: downtime, prayer, relationships, memories–though they may not be “urgent,” they are most certainly important.
What are your priorities?