One of the most recognizable comments we hear in our daily lives is “I’m too busy.” We hear this phrase over and over like a litany. “I’m too busy with things to do… people to meet…projects to finish… calls to make… appointments to keep.” One author said our lives are like “overpacked suitcases bursting at the seams.”
But there’s a funny thing about being busy in today’s society… it has become a status symbol. I know in the past I have been guilty of feeling important when I was just too busy to schedule a lunch or when I was too overbooked to commit to volunteer. In our production-driven world, my brain said that being over-scheduled validated my sense of worth… that if I was constantly “busy,” then I was valued for something.
But in the past two years I’ve had to re-think this. I recognize now after that my life before resembled a tightly closed fist, clenched hard and appearing strong, but inside not so much.
Ball up your fist as tight as you can… go on, try it… really tight. Now take your other hand and try to push your index finger into that clenched space. Pretty difficult, right?
My over-booked, over-scheduled and over-controlled life was like that fist. There was not one more thing I could fit into that space… which also meant that the Holy Spirit had no extra space to breathe more fully into my life as well. Sure, I had God in my life, but I was trading a “full schedule” for the opportunity to be truly “filled with the Spirit.”
Now, unclench that fist and open your hand… in that one action, how free has that space become? How open to being filled with something new? That is my life now… more open, letting the light poke through the fingers. I confess, I still have a busy schedule, but I have been making a habit of leaving spaces… serendipitous gaps that are “filling with the Spirit”, as Henri Nouwen wrote, and I am trying to “live all of life from there.” Anyone care to join me?
Jennifer Michael, of Pensacola, Florida, is the president of Women of the ELCA for the 2011-2014 triennium.