We hear this all the time. In fact, I would argue these words have become a badge of honor in today’s society as a response to that simple question “How are you?”
Ten years ago, when someone would ask – “How are you today?”, a typical response would be “Pretty good thanks, how about you”. Fast forward 10 years and the answer has mostly changed to “yeah – things are really busy” What else has changed?
One thing is certainly electronics. Many of our lives are dominated by technology. Ten years ago, I checked email at the office a few times a week – now I check it a few times every hour. It’s almost always now done by electronics. There is usually a twinge of “Ugh” when I have to actually “call” someone and not just text. Again, this is a change from 10 years ago when I would call my husband when I needed him. Now we simply text. Our social life has become integrated into our electronics, which usually reside no more than a few centimeters away from us at all times. Much of our “busyness” is caused by our exhaustion with always being connected.
Another change over time is that our striving for perfection or wholeness is less connected with our full acceptance at baptism and more connected to the size of our house or our portfolio. We are striving for the perfect family image rather than trusting that God has already made our family perfect.
We want our kids to have every future advantage by getting them to extra hockey, baseball, soccer practices, tutoring, music lessons, karate, and play dates to make them whole rather than trusting that they already are whole and they should follow where their gifts lead them. In our adult lives ,we also strive for wholeness which may mean balancing many things like yoga, guys’ night, book club or a trip to the gym.
All of these things can certainly improve our lives and they are all action items that add to our busy lives. It is as if we are working so hard for wholeness, that we are missing the forest for the trees. We are reaching for a goal of perfection that we have already obtained at birth and are reminded of this at our baptism. Keeping busy is our new way of life.
And now... here comes Lent, a time within the church to slow down and switch gears. Historically the tradition is to give up something for Lent as an exercise of spiritual renewal. In my experience this is a good practice. It does help us to stop, pay attention and spend some precious time reflecting on our relationship with God.
More modern traditions fit into the “busyness model” of a switch from giving up something for Lent to taking something on for Lent. For example, take on reading the bible every day or using a Lenten calendar to remind you to do something to help others and yourself.
So which is right? Should we slow down and give up for Lent ? Should we speed up and take on something new? Or is Lent simply not important enough to hit our radar anymore?
What if we gave up the word “busyness for Lent”? Perhaps we can simply respond differently when asked the question “How are you today?”. Or we can make a shift and actually follow God’s commandment to “Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it Holy”. In doing this, we slow down, think, and remember we are already perfect.
How busy are you?
How busy do you feel?
God commands you to keep the Sabbath!!
This Lenten Season, be kind to yourself, keep the Sabbath and reconnect to your family, your church family, and to God.
May your Lenten Journey include Sabbath (rest and honor to God)