When is busy too busy?

FamilyA show of hands please–who out there is 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 . . .

 

13 thoughts on “When is busy too busy?

  1. mom

    While I agree with your thoughts, I know and observe that you do a better job of putting people at the top of your list than about anyone else I know! I’m glad you spent some time with Lawrence and Mabel…

  2. Good advice for all of us…. I took time Sunday to make the peach cobbler ( recipe on your promo card)…. I used 4 cups of frozen peaches and topped it with some granola…. a perfect fit for reading Miracle in a Dry Season! Blessings sent your way as you continue to inspire me….

  3. Reblogged this on Donna's Family Life and commented:
    I am totally inspired by today’s post from Sarah Loudin Thomas…

    Why do we not take time for the things that are important? A hug and a few minutes attention aimed at a child (or grandchild) , a phone call to a friend who’s been going through some difficulties, or just stopping long enough to look up at the sky and appreciate the beauty of God’s creation!

    Take time to read Sarah’s post… and to send her a comment or a word of appreciation.

    God bless you today… and always!

  4. Great thoughts, Sarah.

    I used to be too busy for people, and now, with health shot and pretty well property-bound, I’ve become something of a cautionary tale.

    There are times I would love to have the chance to talk with someone face-to-face, to be able to use hand gestures and make silly expressions to garner a shared laugh, but I didn’t build those relationships.

    And the one face-to-face relationship I have, with my wife…I didn’t nurture that in the right way. She’s caught up in her career, and while I listen, and ask questions, she’s sort of moved on. My life’s become pretty static, to her, and the conversations are one-sided.

    I stay busy, writing and doing what work I still can, and caring for the dogs, but it’s become a largely silent world for me.

    I’m not saying this to ask for sympathy. I do okay, and God disposes, after all. My complaints are nothing when compared to, say, ISIS.

    But I would suggest that if we’re too busy for people, one day, they’ll be too busy for us.

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