"How are you?"
It's a loaded question.
I was telling two of my friends last night that I feel like that's America's answer anytime you ask. We glorify busy. We fill our schedules because we feel like we should – or simply because we can. It's a fact of life that we're constantly busy.
Last Sunday, I broke down in tears for the third time in two weeks. This isn't a red flag or a cry of help – it's just life. And I'm a crier. (Anyone else?) I feel overwhelmed. I told Chris that I had told a friend that I was overwhelmed, and her response was, "That's so reassuring. You do so much, and you do everything with a smile. I love that about you, but I've always wondered how you do it." In the moment, it felt like the room stopped for a minute. I responded honestly, "That is all God's doing. You are so sweet, and I'd really appreciate some prayers right now." As I relayed the story to Chris, I told him I hadn't realized how true that was. And that I had taken on too much, again. I looked at my planner and said, "There's no way. These are all good things... I can't quit them. But it's so much."
I told him how this summer, I had decided that I had been the "no" girl for too long. Always too busy to hang out, never wanting to drive to meet anyone, so selfish and protective of my time. My life was too precious to fill with spending so much of my time investing in others who, I was afraid, wouldn't really love me. So I started saying "yes" – to so many good things. I prayed. I listened. And God set people in my path, so many wonderful relationships. He watered and doctored relationships I've had for years, some for my whole life. He brought new people into the mix. He brought old friends back again. My life suddenly became about so many relationships and, even though I consider myself a serious introvert, I found my heart being strengthened and sustained by the warm bodies that were suddenly brought into my life.
I had also spent the summer praying about whether or not I should pursue my freelance work more. Chris and I were a little tight on money, and were looking into a very uncertain future. I asked God if I needed to share more on social media – to really start to market myself. And before I could consider it further, I suddenly had several project requests in my inbox. Friends, family, and people who had found me online were reaching out and sharing their dreams with me. I was floored and honored. These last few months, I've seen very visibly that my freelance work is a mission field. I have the delight of serving these people each day, getting to know their hearts and dreams as we work intimately to create something that embodies who they are. God inserts Himself into these areas and reveals His truth about the people I'm in contact with. He's teaching me how to truly be a servant and to give generously and love graciously. My heart is so full.
But as I looked at my planner and at my Trello list, I saw so many projects... too many projects. I was afraid, and I let all my fear pour out like Niagra Falls from my eyes.
Insert sweet Chris. Always my voice of reason.
He said, "I think you're Peter out on the water right now, and you're looking at the waves.
You've been hustling along, helping people with their dreams, forming relationships, mentoring, being mentored to, investing in people through friendship and through design work – and you're right, that it's all good things. God's been bringing these things to you for your good. But now you've taken a moment to look back at ALL you've been doing and then looking ahead at ALL that's to come, and you're afraid.
I think Satan's trying to tell you to be selfish with your time. You didn't invent time, you can't claim it as yours... time belongs to God. He created it. And He's been so faithful in guiding you in what to do with your time. I've seen you grow and flourish over these last few months. Keep drawing near to God. Fix your eyes on Him. He'll give you your daily bread, and that's all you need."
Keep going. Keep running your race. In a world that glorifies busy for busy's sake, we can turn our busy into a life of purpose. Let's be wrung out at the end of our days. Let's get up early and spend time with the Lord. Listening. Talking. More listening. Let's drive home from work tired because we put our best effort forward during the day. Let's pull up to our homes and pray to God that He would give us strength to go love on our husbands, our roommates, our friends we're meeting up with. Let's shift our hearts to listen and really hear the person across from us at the table. Let's encourage and lift up one another. Let's go to bed worn out because our days and our hearts are full.
This is how we're intended to live. God made us to be workers, to be helpers, to be doers. We do our best to carve out a window of time to sit down with His word, and sometimes that requires literally getting away for a day or two. But more often that not, the way we are "recharging" for our work is by simply walking with God. Talking to Him in the car. Praying in our cubicles. Silently asking Him to give us words to share when our friend asks for advice. He stands beside us, He's all around us. He's closer than you think.
PS – I know this does might not apply to you in the season of life you're in right now. As my sweet friend Lindsay reminded me in the comments, now might be the time for you to be changing your "yes" into "no". Our God wants us to be near to Him and to walk with Him. Sometimes that means walking out on the water, and sometimes that means sitting at His feet and listening. Each day is a balance, and it will never be perfect, and it will be messy. My prayer for all of us is just that we would keep our eyes focused on Him, and that our posture would always be to bring Him the glory, forever and ever, Amen.