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Busy for the wrong reasons

We talk a lot about being busy - and sometimes about being too busy.  I have been thinking about this a lot since we left for sabbatical, knowing that I have the opportunity to make some changes in my life when we return in December. I don't have a plan yet for what that looks like, but God is leading me to consider how I need to be thinking about my life and what has been driving my busy-ness before I make any plans for the future.

This morning it occurred to me that my schedule has been controlled by my desires - a desire to appear capable, a desire to share knowledge, a desire to help, a desire to feel fulfilled.  These desires are not evil or anything, but it hit me that this is the wrong way to shape my life.  I want my schedule - the way I do my job, the work I take on, other activities I choose to participate in - to be determined by what God is calling me to spend my energy on and to take on only those things that I have the energy and time to do well.

One of the talks I remember most from a Biblical Counseling Training week was about unfulfilled longings.  I was reminded that the only thing that will bring ultimate satisfaction is Christ - my life in Him and His in me.  So doesn't it make sense that I should be listening carefully for His leading as I rebuild my life after sabbatical? If I truly seek to fulfill the desires of my heart, why not let the One who created me lead me to that fulfillment?

Then, as God often does, shortly after my prayer time I read this morning's entry from a devotional and it was a confirmation of what I had been thinking. 

You don’t have to go far from your front door before you’ll see a t-shirt or bumper sticker proclaiming: “I can’t adult today.” I know the feeling.

When the emails pile up in my inbox and the mountain of dirty laundry threatens to avalanche across the basement floor, I want to escape, too. Preferably to a lounge chair by a quiet pool, with a glass of lemonade and a new novel.

An occasional day at the pool—no “adulting” required—is one of God’s good gifts that I am free to enjoy (1 Tim. 6:17). But I get into trouble when I regularly think my ordinary work is something to be avoided. God’s prohibition against laziness in today’s passage (Prov. 31:27) means that my life was never intended to be one, long soak in the hot tub.

Instead, everyone who walks by the Spirit has been redeemed from a life consumed with selfish desires and set free for a life of serving the Lord.

Like the woman in Proverbs 31 who cares for her family (v. 11–12, 15, 27), works diligently (v. 15), wisely stewards her financial resources (v. 16, 18), and serves her neighbors (v. 20, 26), the self-controlled woman uses her time and energy for the glory of God and the good of others.   

Megan Hill, Day 9, Trading Laziness for self-control, from Rooted in God's Love, a 9 day devotional for women,

So here is the conclusion I have been coming to over the past couple of weeks about myself. I have been so caught up with doing so many different things that my focus and energy is depleted for pretty much all of them. I don't want to find myself avoiding the best things because I am exhausted by all of the other stuff I am doing.  When we left for sabbatical in June, I was finding myself dissatisfied with the quality of my work and relationships, getting by on the minimum for almost everything I was doing. I don't want to live that way. This kind of life also takes a toll on my management of diabetes.  Stress is a blood sugar nightmare, leading to roller coaster days that leave me depleted and cranky. There were too many days like that in my life. 

So what is my take-away lesson from all of this? I will be looking to form a life in which I take on fewer responsibilities, so that I can focus more fully on the things that I do commit to. I love my job at ECC. I want to know that all that I do as part of that job is God-led and God-glorifying. I will choose other responsibilities and activities outside of work carefully with the same goal of being led by God and glorifying Him. That does not mean that everything I do will be church-related. But there are going to be some painful  "no's" - painful for me because there are many things I love to do that I need to lay aside for now. It might mean that I am just as busy as I was pre-sabbatical, but busy with fewer things, using my time and energy for the glory of God and the good of others in ways that I do not know yet. 

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