There seems to be an epidemic of busyness. At least this is my experience in recent years. We have stages of life that are busier than others, and that is normal. But it seems everyone is now busy – even people not in a “busy stage” of life. What’s going on?
I’ll give a personal example. We know several couples from different areas of our life, who are either in early retirement or young empty nesters. They no longer have children at home. With the empty nest couples, one spouse works full time and the other spouse is part-time or not employed. These people, theoretically, should be in a less busy stage of life. Right?
Yet, when we attempted to get together with them for lunch or dinner, they were not able to “schedule us in” for several months. When we did finally get together, it was rushed – they essentially had to eat and run. No time for friendship or building a relationship or just hanging out. We have not reached out again, as we do not want to invade their time. My husband and I both got the sense that we indeed invaded their time, and they did not have any to spare.
Friendship. Relationships. Community. People. Hanging out. These things are important. They also take time. I’m an introvert, yet even I need quality time with friends sometimes.
What are we so consumed with? Where has all our time gone?
One of these couples is very involved with hobbies and volunteer work. It is good to have hobbies and volunteer. Yet if these things consume us, perhaps something is amiss.
Do we have “free time” in our life? We should. Unscheduled time can be seen as lazy or dangerous (leading to vice or sloth) and to be avoided. But…
Having every single waking moment consumed with an activity is not good either!
I was reminded of some previous posts.
- One is entitled: Is life a “schedule” or a “series of moments” for you? Keeping eternal values in mind. Read the post for thoughts from Stephen Covey and Philip Yancey. One point from Covey is that: We all need underlying values/priorities that drive our life, and our schedule should be based on those values. The key is not to prioritize what is on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. It is also important to have a “people dimension” to your schedule. Oftentimes the keeping of a schedule will need to be subordinated to people. People are more important than a schedule. You can think efficiency with time or things, but not with people. If you schedule 10 minutes of “quality time” with an employee or child to address a problem, it will likely only exacerbate it.We also need to look to Jesus, as Yancey shares….Life was like a series of moments for Jesus, and He would stop and give His full attention to the person before Him. Jesus was busy but prioritized people.
- Another post is a book review: The Rest of God (Keeping Sabbath?). Here is an excerpt: You can be busy but slothful! Unable to rest, you can keep busy by wasting time with non-productive actions. We can also be in a hurry all the time and wrongly perceive we are saving time by our hurry. But are we? We can miss or overlook important things in our rush. We may actually be throwing time away.“Being in a hurry. Getting to the next thing without fully entering the thing in front of me. I cannot think of a single advantage I’ve ever gained from being in a hurry. But a thousand broken and missed things, tens of thousands, lie in the wake of all the rushing…”
- Finally, here is a post where I group together all the Bible verses in the wisdom books of the Old Testament on time, in a summarized format: Being wise about the time. Are we being wise with our time?
In closing, something I’ve observed more than once in my life is:
Legitimately busy people, who nonetheless always had time for me and other people who needed them. It seems they put into practice some of the principles mentioned above.
Unfortunately, I’ve known far more of the other kind – especially in recent years. I’m not pointing the finger, as I struggle with time issues too. But people are important.
If a friend was in trouble and needed your time, would they feel like they could contact you?
If the last time they asked you for a lunch date, you could not “schedule them in” for 6 months…I have doubts they will perceive you as having the time.
**An additional note: Sadly, we have had this problem more with Christians!! Our non-Christian friends seem to have more time for friendship. Maybe just a coincidence with the people we know? Or not?