avatarMary Gallagher


The Cost of Busyness

Put your feet up and take in this moment

Photo by Philippe Murray-Pietsch on Unsplash

There is a terrible cost to our busyness: it erodes memory. — Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God.

We can be so busy building a life that we don’t take time to reflect on significant moments. Without reflection, memories don’t get the chance to marinate, and they lose the savor they deserve.

We attempt to fill this gap by documenting every moment with our cameras, thereby cheapening those that deserve reflection and lifting the lesser to heights they were never destined for.

Everyday and ordinary are to be treasured as life-filled moments from God, but we run the risk of fragmenting and weakening those significant times — those life markers — by elevating every moment as something worthy of glorification.

Like Mr. Incredible says about his wife’s attempt to downplay their child’s superpowers so the other children won’t feel bad: “If everyone is special, then no one is special.”

How do we stay present and capture those significant moments so they are not lost to busyness?

By building margin into our lives.

Margin gives us room to reflect, look inward, ruminate on our memories, and lay markers on the remembrances of our lives.

Margin gives us the space we need to mark moments of intensity without judgment. Times of sorrow and joy, neither labeling them good or bad — just remembering them for what they were, what they taught us, and how they changed us. Reflection offers us time to heal, to process, to cherish.

Don’t short-circuit the reflection process in your life.

Reflection is like a cup of tea after a good meal… kick up your feet, loosen your belt, with nothing on your plate. It’s the opposite of rushing and filling our minds from margin to margin, moving from task to task, leaving no free space to look back and reflect.

The song, Our House by Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young evokes this image for me.

“Come to me now and rest your head for just five minutes... everything is good.”

Everything is good. God said this after his act of magnificent creation.

Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! — (Genesis 1:31, NLT)

Can you do the same? Can you settle in after a good meal, or a finished project, or a time with family and friends and just reflect and take in the goodness of the moment? Or are you already planning your next project, scurrying about the kitchen cleaning up, or surfing social media to see who had a better time than you did?

Take time to do nothing

Rushing is the destroyer of reflection; it clutters our minds, leaving us no free space to reflect.

Rushing and busyness cause the past to recede quickly, leaving moments shelved and stuffed away in drawers without being sorted, organized, or recorded.

Rushing brings moments not yet lived into the present as we think about our next steps while literally taking the present ones.

Hurrying robs us of now.

Unable to be fully immersed in the right now because we’re planning, scheming, and worrying how we’ll get there on time, fit it all in, what we’ll say, if we’re prepared, what we’re forgetting…these things steal our minds from the present.

Rushing and busyness are like locusts, eating up everything before our eyes leaving nothing left of what was and destroying what is before us.

Rushing is the enemy of reflection, and busyness erodes presence. One simply can not live fully in the present when rushing through life, when crowded thoughts push away reflective ponderings.

A Sabbath lifestyle is the antidote for rushing.

It’s the practice of slowing down and recognizing that enough is now and this moment is the one we should choose to live in.

It’s still ingrained in me to work whenever the opportunity presents itself, regardless of the cost or what I have to say no to in order to earn the bucks. It occurred to me recently that I still need to give myself permission to rest and leave room for better things.

There are times to lean in and press hard to complete a task, and there are times to let go and let someone else have the privilege. Everything isn’t meant for me. I must choose wisely. Trying to do it all creates stress that breaks down our bodies and our peace.

In finding the rest of God now, we prepare for the fullness of God one day. — Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God

How can you practice reflection and rest each day?

A time of silence allowing the memories of the day to wash over you? A journal for detailing and mining the busyness for gems of remembrance? A soak in the tub and gratitude prayers?

Don’t let busyness and hurrying from task to task without built-in margins rob you of the only certain thing you have: this moment.

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. — Jon Kabat-Zinn

If you feel stuck in the hamster wheel of busyness and margin seems like an elusive dream you can’t attain, download these tips to learn to tame busyness.

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