Laying Down a Busy Life

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The image of a dark, overcrowded broom closet comes to me periodically as a picture of my life. All manner of things are jammed in haphazardly, and everything is apt to topple perilously down into a heap when the door is opened.

I am a productive, organized, and fast-moving person; I do a lot and get a lot done in a short time. This is one of my greatest strengths - and almost surely my greatest weakness. It's a weakness because I so quickly turn my capacity for productivity into an idol. My completed to-do list with tasks checked off feels so gratifying that it's easy to find my worth in what I'm getting done instead of in God. The fact that many of the things I am accomplishing are worthwhile, God-honoring activities only serves to mask my sin.

I have known my tendency toward over-productivity for a long time and have tried to fight it. I've noticed a pattern I go through: gradually overfill my life; run around crazed; burn out; crash; acknowledge sin; repent; clear out my life somewhat; commit and try harder not to overfill. "Trying harder" often comes along with band-aid efforts like color-coding my Outlook calendar, reading up on organization strategies, or trying new time management tools.

But the problem is that the cycle repeats itself. "Trying harder" fails me. Productivity is like an addiction - I can't just give it up. It creeps up on me and half lures, half fools me back into its clutches time and again. I'm like a junkie.

I know I'm not alone in this struggle. Most of America is on a fast track, trying to fit more and more activity into less and less time. Women - with so many life options and our born capacity to multi-task - are perhaps at the center of the frenzy. It's a pandemic, and everyone laments how busy life is and then feeds the fire by running right along with their overfull lives anyway. We don't know how to stop, and deep down, many of us aren't sure we really want to anyway. Having so much to do makes us feel important.

If we're honest, greed is a part of the problem. There are so many things we can do and want to do and are equipped to do: Work, parent, spend time with our spouse, go out with friends, recreate, serve at church, volunteer, exercise. God endorses all these things. Surely we can find or make time for all of them? We indulge ourselves. We are unwilling to ask the hard questions about what is being scarified in our overfull lives, and unwilling to do the work of pruning out even good things to focus on the best - starting with God.

April16, 2007 at 8:51 PM

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