When is busy too busy?
Ah-ha. I see a lot of hands. And I hear a lot of friends, family members, and co-workers who share tales of their busy-ness with me. And I tell quite a few of my own.
Two members of a missionary family from Turkey spoke at church yesterday. Dad and one of his adopted Turkish daughters came to talk with our church before their return to the mission field.
The daughter is 17. She’s poised, lovely, well-spoken, and an all-around delight. After the service, church members gathered around the table to share lunch with father and daughter. We talked about a variety of topics including the differences between Turkey and America. The daughter commented on how busy everyone in America is. She added that while people in Turkey might be just as busy, they don’t let on. If a visitor comes, they stop what they are doing for tea and a visit. Often a long visit.
Which set me to thinking. What am I busy about? Oh, good things, surely. My job, projects at church, writing and promoting my novels–the list goes on and on. Okay, so I could spend a bit less time on Facebook. Okay, so I could give up television entirely and be none the worse for it. But what about the important things.
I often get into such knots over my to-do list. But I rarely stop to consider what would happen if I didn’t check everything off. If I’m honest, there are very few (like, not any) life-or-death items on that list. If I don’t get the Christmas ask letter out on the date that’s on my calendar . . . nothing terrible will happen. If I fail to make a fabulous dessert for the ladies’ meeting at church . . . no one will mind. If I go one day over on my writing deadline . . . the world will not end.
But what if, when a friend called, I stopped what I was doing to listen? What if, when a child lingered in my office, I gave her my full attention? What if, when I travel to see my family, I left my laptop at home? What if I put people at the top of my to-do list.
I really, really, really wanted to finish the first draft of my third novel yesterday. But I also knew it had been too long since I visited Lawrence and Mabel, an older couple who can’t get out much. His health isn’t good and she lost her eyesight last December. I LOVE these people–salt of the earth folks with great stories and sweet hearts.
It was so tempting to wait and visit them another day, after I’d met my deadline. But instead I hauled myself over there and sat with them for a while. And it was delightful. And they were thankful. And my spirit was filled.
I finished the manuscript that evening, refreshed and ready to spill out a story of faith. I’d have to say I was better for putting people at the top of my list. Now, to do that each and every day . . .