Even very good things can sometimes become very bad for you.
I’ve been thinking lately about how full my life is. And I’ve noticed a pattern.
I fill my life to the brim in an effort to not have to think about how my life is void of everything I’ve ever desired in life.
When I was growing up, I dared to dream of having a husband and children. I knew it wasn’t likely to happen, but I thought maybe, if I played the cards right, things could work out.
As much as I want the desire to go away, it just won’t.
So I try to drown the sorrow of disappointment in a flood of activity.
Volunteering for every opportunity to serve at church.
Taking on every friend’s sorrows and trials.
Picking up every open shift at work.
Pursuing degrees, certifications and other educational opportunities.
Studying voraciously any number of topics. Health. Natural wellness. Oils, oils, oils. Psychology.
Reading everything I can get my hands on. Books. Magazines. Textbooks. Fiction and non-fiction. Then giving up fiction because the fantasy world in many works of fiction hurts my heart.
This past holiday season, I worked tirelessly because I could. It was holiday pay and overtime and it made everyone else feel good about their situation so there I was. It wasn’t bad. I love my job and if I can’t do holidays with my family, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be than at my job. It doesn’t feel too much like a job so it was ok. (For the record, I asked to work a lot because I couldn’t get enough time off to go anywhere. I figured that if my options were to sit at home alone or to be at work, I’d rather be at work where I’d at least have someone to talk to.)
But they gave me several days before New Year’s off.
I had a mini crisis during my time off because for the first time in months, I had time to think and I felt like I was losing it. I cried for like 4 days straight.
It was then that I realized that for the past (roughly) 15 years, I’d crammed my life so full of good things that it numbed the pain of disappointment. As long as I was doing something or going somewhere, I was ok because I didn’t have to face how empty my life was.
I don’t think busy-ness is bad or wrong. I think sometimes God works through us in our deepest pain. Sometimes we need the activity just to give us a reason to get out of bed and sometimes many beautiful and lovely things can come out of those places of sorrow. Sometimes, for short periods of time, keeping busy is necessary and good. It helps us and it helps our families and friends, our churches and schools. Sometimes, busy-ness is a good thing.
But when it goes on…. for 15…. years….
That is when it becomes unhealthy.
Well, maybe it becomes unhealthy many years sooner than that. My point is, if you have to be that busy for a long time (longer than a few weeks to a few months), something is wrong and you need to address it.
I don’t have all the answers. I don’t know what to tell anyone who might be struggling with this. I don’t even know how to help myself with this.
I’ve been thinking in the weeks since New Year’s about faith and how it pertains to the concept of busy-ness.
For many years, I was at church every time the door was open. I prayed. I read the Bible. I volunteered in ministries. I did everything I could. I did it to numb the pain and forget the sorrow. I found joy and laughter in it (sometimes) but it did nothing to heal the ache that no one saw.
I think it’s easy for us to think that if we’re focusing on God, we are doing good. It’s especially easy to think that by praying, serving and seeking God, we are moving in the direction of healing. Jesus is the healer, right? If we’re seeking Jesus, the Healer, we’re bound to find healing and restoration eventually, right?
Looking back on it, I can tell you that is not always the case. There have been times when I’ve used the words “I’ll pray about that” as a way to avoid making difficult decisions that would propel me into freedom. Sometimes I used church or ministry opportunities as an excuse to not do the things that would bring true restoration to my soul. Sometimes very good things — like prayer, ministry opportunities, church meetings and Bible studies — are the reason we stay stuck.
Don’t let good things come in the way of the best things.
The thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. I have come that you may have life, and have it more abundantly.
I’m not saying that everything a person does to keep busy is bad. I’m not saying that church and Christianity are bad. I’m saying that busy-ness can be the thief that comes to steal, kill and destroy. I’m saying that sometimes the thief (Satan) uses very good things to destroy us or to keep us in places of pain. Our job is to honestly assess the motives behind what we are doing and only do those things that will bring us abundant life.
If the Son sets you free, you are free, indeed!
Jesus has already set us free. We have only to figure out how to live free. We aren’t living free if we’re filling our lives to the brim with things that are designed to numb our pain.