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How to Cultivate a Spirit of Rest in an "I'm So Busy" Culture

  • Betsy St. Amant Haddox
How to Cultivate a Spirit of Rest in an "I'm So Busy" Culture

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Lately when someone asks me how I’ve been, my automatic answer is “busy.” This isn’t a cop-out to avoid sharing, it’s simply the truth.

We’re a busy people—and we made ourselves that way. In fact, even when we aren’t actually busy, we feel busy because we over-stimulate in our downtime with social media or some form of screen in our face. There’s nothing relaxing and refreshing about scrolling aimlessly past everyone else’s highlight reel in life. Doing so typically conjures up feelings of inadequacy and irritation, and ironically, leads to hours of wasted time.

We’ve put ourselves on the hamster wheel and then whine at the constant squeak.

I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to jump off the spinning wheel. I’m ready to be present and engaged in the moment with the face in front of me, with their hand tucked in mine. I want to see and hear and live real life, and even more than that, I want to protect it. Doing so starts with creating white space in our life—and that means facing some pretty legit fears.

I believe that the main reason we stay so busy is twofold:

1. We’re afraid of the silence.

Silence makes us face our thoughts, rather than drown them out. When we aren’t rushing around like crazy, overscheduling our days, and crashing into bed just to do it all again the next day, we don’t have time for self-reflection. We’re not still before the Lord to hear Him guide us or correct us or heal our wounds. Who has time for conviction and repentance when there are classes to attend, corporate ladders to climb, soccer games to rush to, and even church services to volunteer at? We have to make white space in our lives if we’re going to claim them.

Psalm 46:10 ESV “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”

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2. We’re getting our identity from what we accomplish.

This one is true for women of all stages in life—we all struggle with labels, finding our identity, and maintaining a healthy self-esteem. It’s hard. But I think this challenge is especially difficult for moms. As mother, we tend to get shoved to the backburner. We’re busy taking care of everyone else, so it’s easy to attempt to find our value through our kids. If our kids are successful, it somehow automatically makes us successful, too. So we rush to the next sports game and aim for the next Straight A’s report card and sign up for the next competition or pageant in order to prove ourselves. Instead of carving in time for family dinners, family devotionals, and down-time for overstimulated minds, we stuff our faces with fast food in two different cars on the way to two different events, and hurry to the illusive “next.” 

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Our ‘Fear of Missing Out’ Culture and What Jesus Offers Us Instead

Our culture today has two extremes. One extreme is the entitled right to say no, the arrogant “you’re not worth my time or consideration” posture, which promotes pride and the motto “treat yourself.” The other is the extreme of saying yes to everything possible in order to get ahead and stay ahead, make a mark, and leave an impression. Neither extreme is healthy. Unfortunately, we tend to migrate toward one or the other.

Instead, we should stop being afraid of being unplugged. The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a legit diagnosis now. People grow panicked and anxious when they feel disconnected from social media or other networks for a time. What they don’t realize is that the connection they experience there is in many ways, false. They’re starving themselves of true connection—with the Lord and with fellow believers—by investing their time in the wrong places. It’s a vicious cycle.

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Meanwhile, Jesus offers something real.

Matthew 11:28 ESV “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

I want this rest that Jesus promises. I want to be still and know that He is Lord. I want to stop holding on to busy like it’s a shield that guards me from the vulnerability, connection, and godly fellowship that we crave. 

If you’re feeling that same way – at a breaking point and in need of a serious life change to kick the busy and find rest, here are three easy ways to “un-busy” your life:

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1. Fight Back against Our Culture of Busy by Intentionally Unplugging

Disconnect from technology for a period of time. Whether this is for an hour a day or for a week straight, get off social media. Turn the TV off and put your phone down—no texting, no calling, no screen time at all, unless it’s an e-book—and look into the eyes of the people around you. Be present. 

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2. Practice Saying No.

Turn down invitations. Then, the hard part—don’t immediately fill it back up again. Keep white space in your life. Don’t sign your kid up for that three-times-a-week-practice this season. Say no when you’re asked volunteer to teach a class. Allow some room so the Lord will reveal His purposes and plans for how you should fill your days. You never know what blessing might be around the corner that you now have time for! 

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3. Prioritize Rest Even When Everyone Around You is Chasing Busy.

When we clear our schedules and stop clinging to busy, we’re able to hear the heartbeat of our real passions. You might have a burden for a certain cause or organization or people group that you don’t yet realize, because you’ve never had time to get involved. You might discover that you love cooking and could have a ministry there, but you never knew before because you’re always eating on the run. Instead of trying to do everything and spreading ourselves so thin that we’re ineffective and exhausted, we can do a few smaller things, and do them well.

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Your turn!

What has helped you fight (and win) the battle for true rest in a culture that prioritizes busyness? Let us know your best strategies in the comments section!

Betsy St. Amant Haddox is the author of fourteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her newlywed hubby, two story-telling young daughters, a collection of Austen novels, and an impressive stash of Pickle Pringles. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored in Christ. When she's not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can usually be found somewhere in the vicinity of a white-chocolate mocha. Look for her latest novel with HarperCollins, LOVE ARRIVES IN PIECES, and POCKET PRAYERS FOR FRIENDS with Max Lucado. Visit her at http://www.betsystamant.com./

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