Busy has become a badge of honor. It's one I no longer want to wear. As I get more forward in encouraging others to unbusy themselves, I notice I'm getting push back. Stuff like, "That'd be nice, but it's stuff I HAVE to do. Unfortunately, there isn't anything I can cut." I don't usually believe this, but I don't ever really push back either. Personally, I think there's always something that could be cut out. It might not always be easy.
I am busy because I am vain. I want to appear important. Significant. What better way than to be busy? The incredible hours, the crowded schedule, and the heavy demands on my time are proof to myself — and to all who will notice — that I am important.
How can I lead people into the quiet place beside the still waters if I am in perpetual motion? How can I persuade a person to live by faith and not by works if I have to juggle my schedule constantly to make everything fit into place?
—Eugene Peterson, The Contemplative Pastor
When you clear your plate of the things that you said yes to out of guilt, you make room for the things you enjoy doing. When you quit doing the things that are noble and good, but are things you know you're not called to, then you make room for what God has waiting for you. That's what happened for me. Yet another added benefit is you're free to linger longer and enjoy the people around you. You quit feeling rushed to get to the next thing or squeeze in a little bit of work here or there.
If you are someone who say there is nothing you could cut from your family's schedule, I challenge you to make a list every commitment and thoughtfully consider what you take off your plate. It might mean asking your kids to choose an activity to quite. It might mean letting your kids quite something they don't enjoy, but you really wanted them to do. For our family it meant my quitting helping with our church's youth group, and eventually it meant quitting a job that was a nice chunk of extra income for us. It meant enrolling Stella in tumbling at a local dance studio instead of gymnastics lessons at a gym 30 minutes away.
It will probably be hard, but it will be worth it.