It is often said that “idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” While this may be true at times, I’d also like to suggest that busyness is equally, if not more, detrimental to one’s emotional and spiritual health. Our culture today constantly screams at us to do more, try harder, and be more successful. In the midst of our chaotic lives, we often fail to heed an important calling: “Be still and know that I am God.”
I sat at lunch with my pastor several weeks ago. Inevitably, this question surfaced in our conversation: “Okay, but how are you really doing, Mary Rachel?” I told him I was numb. Indifferent. Apathetic. About things that matter, about things that don’t, and about things that should. Most days, I feel nothing. Realizing that this is a concerning place to be and wanting a quick fix, I immediately asked, “Then what do you suggest that I do?” He told me to do more things that make me cry. That seemed like a dumb answer.
Later, though, I began to think about what Doug could have meant by his words and determined that I would put them into practice, at least for a time, to prove that his suggestion didn’t work. I started reading books again. I watched a tear-jerker movie. I journaled. I listened to music. I prayed. And amazingly, my heart softened.
I’ve realized that I, like others of you probably reading this, often use busyness as a distraction. When I start to feel anxious, I throw on my running shoes and hit the pavement, sometimes for hours at a time. If I’m worried, I pour myself into my work, or make another commitment that I really don’t have time to fulfill. Instead of slowing down and finding rest in the only One who can truly give it, I get busier, because being busy is easier than feeling something.
The truth is, more distractions never lead to more joy. While busyness often allows me to forget, it never allows me to grow. Jesus doesn’t promise an easy life, which is so often what I want. Instead, He promises that I must walk through “the valley of the shadow of death.” Then he promises that He will be on the other side, waiting for me. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” He says. “Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Burdens in this life are guaranteed, and so is His rest.
With Jesus’ words in mind, I have, somewhat counter-intuitively, started doing more things that make me cry, which generally requires me to slow down the pace of my frantic life. In feeling pain and sadness again, I’ve found that God has given me plenty of reasons to laugh, as well. The truth is, sometimes God does communicate with people through a burning bush. But more often, it seems that He speaks in a whisper which we are unable to hear through the white noise that we create for ourselves. “Make time for quiet moments, as God whispers and the world is loud.” Stop doing, slow down, and feel something. Stillness is good for the soul.