Do you always feel like you are running late, falling behind, or rushing around like a chicken with your head cut off? If so you are not alone. My wife and I feel like this on a regular basis, especially around the end of the year. A popular Catholic speaker, Jesse Romero, likes to remind people that being busy is not necessarily a good thing. He points out that the letters which make up the word are a great way to remember just how dangerous being busy can be to our spiritual health: Being Under Satan’s Yoke – aka busy.
Living the Good Life
I don’t know about you, but whenever I keep myself or my family too busy, I feel just like I am under Satan’s yoke. When my life gets filled up with too many to-do items, sports activities, Church activities or I take on too many tasks at work, my most important relationship suffers. When I get too busy, something has to give, I simply don’t have time to do everything that needs to be done, so invariably, my prayer life gets the short end of the stick. This is what Satan desires, to separate us from God and His fatherly love.
As you may have noticed, the items listed above are good things, there is nothing wrong with playing sports or coaching your kid’s soccer team, there is nothing wrong with completing items on the honey do list or being involved in various ministries at Church, but there has to be moderation. Following the Angelus on August 20th, 2006, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reflected on the dangers associated with excessive activity and busyness even for those people who do the work of the Church. He cited the writings of St. Bernard (1091-1153) who wrote in a letter to Pope Eugene III, “Excessive busyness leads to spiritual suffering, loss of intelligence and the loss of grace.”
The Busy Family
Being busy is fashionable. Next time you speak with a friend, ask them how everything is going, 9 times out of 10 the answer will include a comment on how busy they have been recently. Being busy may be a common response from you too. The prevailing attitude is that if you are not busy all the time, then you must have a really boring life. Being busy means you are important right? If that is the case, then I don’t want to be important, this might just be the secret to attaining the virtue of humility. The problem for many of us is that somehow we got into the mode of being busy and we don’t know how to stop it. I often think of the Jetson’s cartoon show when George yells to his wife Jane as he is on the out of control electronic dog run, “Jane! Stop this crazy thing!”.
At various times in our busy lives, many of us wish to yell something similar to this famous phrase. We get so busy that we feel like we are out of control, the world is going too fast and we just want it to stop. Now if we as parents feel that way, imagine how a busy pace of life might feel for our much younger and less capable children. We have been trying to solve this problem in our family for years, and at times we have been successful, but many times we just fail miserably. I believe the key is to keep a close eye on your recurring commitments, learn to prioritize your activities and learn to say no. In our family, we try to meet the needs of each family member, but not necessarily at the same time. We may choose to participate in sports in the fall, but not in the spring. We may also choose activities in which the whole family can participate instead of 5 different individual activities. We have found that spending time in an activity as a family is far more beneficial than selecting an individual activity for each child.
Contrary to popular belief, it is OK to have openings in your schedule, in fact it is important to maintain our sanity. God created the Heavens and the Earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested. If rest and relaxation are important to God, and we are made in His image and likeness, then maybe it is good for us too.