Our minds are overflowing with information, which is thrown at us from all directions. Billboards and business signs reach out for our attention as we drive down the street. Advertisements scream at us as we check our e-mail, read our Facebook messages, catch up on the evening news or browse through the daily paper. Let's not even mention the barrage of messages we receive while shopping, whether we are at a grocery store, department store, a mall, online...doesn't matter - obviously we "need more", "deserve more", or "should be doing more"...blah...blah...blah. [Guess I did "mention" it after all.] If you watch television, add to the list a whole new set of voices that insist on our attention.
Even viewing movies, we are introduced to trailers for other movies. It is constant mental noise and distraction.
Well-intentioned advertisement can also be overwhelming. Take church announcements, for example, humanitarian pleas, or calls from charity organizations. "Volunteers are needed in the nursery." "Join the Women's Ministry group every Thursday to grow closer to the Lord." "Help with the Fundraiser." "Go on a mission trip and see your life changed!" "Donate to the crisis." "Help us help them." None of it is bad, just...noisy. There is an overwhelming abundance of information to be processed every day.
Add to that the chaotic chatter of children [young or old]. Even while playing happily [maybe especially while playing happily], three happy voices at once coming from all different directions quickly melt together into noise. Happy noise. Noise I generally love...but noise, nonetheless.
Unhappy noise is far less pleasant. Whining, bickering, arguments, yelling, fighting, crying...these resonate in the deepest part of a mother's heart, conjuring up a soup of emotions from agonizing empathy to bitter irritation. It is loud, both literally and figuratively, within our hearts and minds.
Add to the continuous flow of noise and information the unending "doing". From the moment I wake to the second I pass out from exhaustion, I am busy. My hands are busy - and even when they have a moment to rest, my heart and mind are burdened with responsibilities, schedules, goals, lists, deadlines, demands, desires...etc. I am exhausted.
There are the usual daily tasks, such as laundry, meal preparations, dishes to be washed, floors to be cleaned, children to be bathed, beds to be made, toys to be put away, homework to be completed, etc. Then, of course, the occasional and the unexpected responsibilities; commitments to be fulfilled, family or friends that need help, home repairs, auto repairs, bills to be paid, groceries to purchase, clothing to be replaced, celebrations and holidays to be planned. And to the list of "doing", add the selective - the things we want to do that take time and attention, that are unnecessary, but we either enjoy doing them or feel compelled to do them [or both]. Just writing it all down exhausts me.
Here's the point of my pointing out the obvious: We are inundated with busyness.
We are conditioned to believe we must constantly be doing, going, getting, growing, so much so that we often neglect the simplicity of being, of living. We will never accomplish all there is to do. It is a mountain that starts out bigger than our abilities and continues to increase in size and height. There is no summit point we can reach, where we can finally sit down and look out across the horizon to see how far we have come and glory in our great accomplishments. It is illusive and unattainable. There is always "doing" to be done.
As I was overwhelmed by the demands that were before me a few days ago, I was reminded of the Psalm. "Be still and know that I am God." [Psalm 46:10]
I am His creation, designed and purposed to be clay in His hand...molded and shaped and used for His plans and His glory. Why do we chase after these "things" and "goals" and "objectives" with such wild voracity. We look ahead and plow forward and forget to recognize the person standing beside us in the grocery line. We are so focused on checking off every single box by the end of the day that when it comes time to tuck our children into bed, we realize that is the first time we've really stopped to look at them all day. We pour all of our energy and effort into our careers, and we come home exhausted, with little or nothing of ourselves left to share with our spouse. We are like race horses, our eyes set straight by blinders, while we may run fast and efficiently, like handsomely carved machines...and the crowds may cheer and there may be a blue ribbon or silver cup with our name on it at the end of the race, the fact remains, we are running in circles. Silver cups tarnish and blue ribbons deteriorate.
If I can walk faithfully each day, doing the things He has made me to do - whether they are spectacular and others notice, or they are simple and mundane and thankless jobs - then that day has been successful.
It will be busy. Life is busy. It will be noisy and messy and hard. But in my heart, I must learn to be still and know that He is God. I must learn to rest, to quiet my mind, to resist the onslaught of messages that pull me in every direction from every limb until I am stretched to my absolute limit. The cultural norm of busy till you bust will get us to a finish line, and maybe even a ribbon, but in the meantime, we pass swiftly by the beautiful landscape surrounding our track and trample over weaker competitors, who may have been our dearest companions, if we would only pay attention to something other than the voices and the whips that press heavy and relentlessly on our backs.
As you face your busyness today, take a moment to be still. And as you accomplish the things that must get done, quiet your heart and know that He is God. "Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." [1 Corinthians 10:31]