* Friends, I’m in Book Launch Land. I’m feverishly working to prepare for the release of Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to Have. I’ll be re-posting some oldies (but hopefully you’ll think they’re goodies!) now and then so I can focus more on the upcoming release. Thanks for understanding . . . Oh – and I so appreciate you taking the time share on social media. This is the way of the writer these days and will help get the word out about Heart Sisters!
A few years ago, I was talking to a woman who was in a panic because she didn’t think her kids were signed-up for enough extra-curricular activities.
They were four and six years old.
She proceeded to proudly tell me of the various sports and lessons they were doing and still . . . She felt it wasn’t enough.
I was tired just listening to it all and when our conversation was over, I was overcome with one thought as I was walking to my mom van:
When did we as a culture start to believe the lie that it’s impressive to be busy?
Probably right about the time when we started to view the normal, bodily need for rest as a sign of weakness.
Anxiety and depression rates have increased significantly over the past five years. The most common reason for this anxiety? Trying to keep up with a frantic schedule set at a frenetic pace.
Lysa TerKeurst talks about the concept of “white space” in her book, Unglued. In a nutshell, graphic and web designers know that a more appealing website is one that includes a tasteful amount of white space – just plain space that serves no purpose other than to point the visitor to the focal point of the site. On the flip side, sites trying to sell products are wrought with advertisements and can leave the visitor feeling like they just underwent shock therapy.
We need white spaces in our lives, friends.
A few years ago when I visited Ghana, West Africa, I noticed the slower pace of life almost as soon as I got off the plane. Being in a hurry didn’t really exist in Ghana and when you paid a visit to someone, you might stay for a few hours just talking and really listening.
I know this isn’t necessarily a reality for many of us because well . . . we have stuff to do. But when does that stuff become too much stuff?
While it’s true those in Ghana may not have all of the opportunities we do, they have one thing we don’t: unfiltered joy in all things.
Ghanaians have white space. They completely rely on God and they’ve seen He’ll take care of them – time and time again.
Not to mention Jesus encouraged his disciples to rest after ministering to the crowds – and He, too, knew when it was time to step-away and replenish His soul. If Jesus needed to rest, why do we think we don’t?
We live in a culture where being busy has somehow become synonymous with glamour. With superiority. With value. The over-busy websites of our lives advertise who we are, how successful we are, and how talented we are.
But I have to say . . . It’s all a lie. It’s a whole lot of pretty front porch and not enough messy living room.
Maybe it’s just me but when I’m running around like a headless chicken because I’m over-scheduled and too busy you know who suffers most? Those I love the most.
The ones I’m trying to enrich by enrolling them in extra activities.
And what’s better? Having a practice or a lesson every night with a stressed out, cranky mom or having a lesson or practice one or two nights a week with time to exhale and eat dinner at the table as a family?
Because every time we say yes to something, we say no to something else. And in the case of being busy, we are usually saying no to what we really should be saying yes.
White space lends margin; margin lends peace; peace lends joy.
So no, I’m not impressed with busy schedules – yours or mine. I’m certainly not immune and in no way am I preaching because I’m rowing the same boat, friends.
It’s time to stop being that tacky, flashy, too-much-going-on advertising website and embrace the serenity of white space. And it’s time to stop trying to impress each other with how busy we are and start impressing each other with the light of Jesus that lives in us. A light that can only come when we slow down and listen to what He’s trying to tell us.
Because so often I hear, “I don’t hear God speaking to me.”
But we don’t hear God speaking to us because we’re never still enough to listen.
Be still. Embrace the white spaces. And listen.
Great post! Love it.
Thank you, sweet Ashley! :) Love to all four of you!!!
Yes! So much yes! We have a large family so we’re busy just because of the number of people who have so many things scheduled. We just moved out of a foster care community where participation in multiple activities each week was expected. After 2 years, we were exhausted and craved family time. We made a pact that, for the first year after our move, our children will not be involved in any regular, organized activities. They’re still young and won’t miss it anyway and we need to learn how to create white space in our routine. I waffled yesterday though, when my oldest son asked to join basketball. “It’s just one activity, it’ll be good for him, the practices will be close to home….”
Still waffling this morning when I read this post, so thanks for a very timely reminder to put my family time first and stick to our plan!
Good wisdom, Alicia. Our souls need space to breathe. I don’t think it’s a bad thing to do one activity but it’s when we over-schedule ourselves and our children to the point of stress and exhaustion that it’s just not worth it. Extra-curricular activities aren’t bad unless they start to take over your lives and you become a grouch. Spoken from experience. :) Thank you for reading and commenting, Alicia!!
I really enjoyed this post, Natalie! So well written and very meaningful
Thank you, Vicki! So great to connect with you here! :)