Matthew 5:7 says the merciful are blessed, and they will receive mercy. The concept of forgiveness is a pillar in the Christian faith. We must forgive and ask for the understanding of those who trespass against us because that’s what God would want us to do. We must not seek revenge or anything like that […]
Everyone has had a week where it seemed like the world was against them. Everything seemed to have to be done at the same time, and you are grateful you found time to take a shower. That should not, however, be the norm. Even so, there are too many people who are trapped being endlessly busy. This constant busyness causes spiritual, emotional and even physical harm. Despite its dangers, busyness is a habit that can be difficult to break, but Alli Worthington has some advice in “The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World” for everyone who wants to conquer busyness and build a happier life.
Beliefnet: What is the worst way you have seen busyness impact people’s faith? Why do you think busyness causes so much damage to faith?
Alli Worthington: Busyness has a massive impact on our faith. For most of us, we are busy in our lives doing good things. We stay busy with work, our families, and all of our responsibilities. And all of these things are good. However, when we stay so busy that our relationship with God suffers, that’s when even the good things we do that keep us busy become a hindrance in our spiritual walk.
When we stay too busy to read the word, pray, and worship God every day, our busyness slowly erodes our faith. And because we stay busy doing good things it makes our busyness even more dangerous because we aren’t doing anything “wrong.”
It’s easy to know when a specific behavior is hurting us spiritually, or when it’s obvious that the behavior isn’t helpful, or it’s outright sinful. However, when we stay busy doing good things for other people, but we stay so busy that we aren’t connecting with God every day, we often don’t realize the damage that we’re doing to our faith.
Beliefnet: When people find themselves drowning in busyness, what is the single best thing they can do to take back control? How can they best recognize they are out of control in the first place?
Alli Worthington: For most of us, the signs of being overly busy include things like: being short-tempered, lots of little illnesses, lack of self-care, self-medicating, and neglecting important relationships.
I know that my out-of-control emotions often reflect the out-of-control expectations I put on myself. When I find myself in situations where I’m not as kind as I should be, or I cry at the drop of a hat, it’s always my clue that I’m close to burnout, and I’ve let myself get crazy busy.
When we find ourselves drowning in busyness and feeling close to burnout, there are two things that we can do to get back in balance. The first is to pray and ask God to show us clearly which things he has called us to do and which things we are doing but no longer need to do.
Like I mentioned before, most of us fill our days doing good things, but to break the patterns of busyness, we have to cut out some of the good things and leave room for the best things.
The second thing to do is to make a list. Now normally in this situation we would make a list of all the things we need to do to help us feel less busy. Instead, we need to make a Stop Doing List. A simple list of 3 to 5 things that we want to stop doing. These are things that simply suck all the life and energy out of us. These are the things that we say yes to in the moment and hope that we have the energy and resources to fulfill the commitment in the future somehow.
Praying for clarity and creating a stop doing list is the best way to break the pattern of living crazy busy.
Beliefnet: A lot of people, especially young people, feel that they HAVE to have busy lives in order to check all the boxes necessary to get into a good school or get a good job. How can people who live busy lives by necessity deal with the busyness and avoid letting it hurt their faith and happiness?
Alli Worthington: No one is living a life where they aren’t busy on an average day. What we want to do is break out of the patterns of crazy busy, because that busyness is what leads to depression and burnout, and instead, lead full and happy lives.
No one has the luxury of relaxing all day and not being busy sometimes. Where busyness is a problem is when we find ourselves saying yes to obligations or filling our calendars because we feel like we have to do all of these things to be enough, to be worthy, or simply so we don’t fail.
People who lead full and busy lives that are lived on purpose with intentionality are happy, people who live crazy busy lives always trying to be good enough or to please other people are walking into a recipe for disaster.
For any of us who are in a season of our lives where we are very busy and have a lot of boxes to check off to achieve a goal, it’s important to remember that it is just a season. We all have seasons of way more activity than others, and that’s normal, and it’s temporary.
As we’re living in these full seasons, what we have to do is stay strong in the Lord by spending time with him every day. He will be our lifeline and he will help us protect our time and our boundaries with wisdom, as well as guide us in our path of happiness.
Beliefnet: “The Year of Living Happy” focuses especially on women. What advice do you have for mothers who are struggling to handle the busyness that inevitably comes with motherhood and the mommy-guilt that creeps in both when they are busy and when they are not?
Alli Worthington: There is no busier time in a woman’s life that when she is raising small children. As the mother of five sons, I had to make peace with the fact that nothing was ever going to look perfect. I had to decide that at the end of the day if I knew my kids were learning more about Jesus, that my kids felt loved, and I was teaching them to love others well, and teaching them to begin to take personal responsibility for themselves, that everything was just fine.
We live in an Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest filled world, where feeling bad about ourselves as mothers is just one click away at any time. Protecting ourselves from mom-guilt comes down to knowing what is important and what is just optional. I like to say that the secret to success as a mom is to not major in the minors.
Beliefnet: You said that “the more we seek God…the happier we become.” Where do God and happiness most overlap? How can people best find God through the things that make them happy?
Alli Worthington: There’s nothing in the Bible that separates the concept of joy and happiness. They have one and the same meaning according to the original languages of Scripture. God tells us to be happy more times in scripture than any other command. Just think about that for a moment. Commands such as “rejoice,” “be of good cheer,” “do not be afraid,” “give thanks,” these are all ways of telling us to be happy.
The very things in life that lead to misery are all things that happen out of God’s will: violence, pride, selfishness, lifelong patterns of specific sins. However, the things that lead to happiness are all part of following and obeying God: loving relationships, healthy community, unselfishness, a sense of wonder and awe, and gratitude.
God’s commands are our instructions for happiness.
The secret of happiness is that when we seek him and obey him in faith, it always leads to happiness.
Let faith guide you into a happier, less stressful year, and check out the rest of Worthington’s advice. “The Year of Living Happy: Finding Contentment and Connection in a Crazy World” will be on sale starting October 2, 2018.