Busyness Badge of Honor

My spot this morning: praying, reading, learning, listening...

My spot this morning: praying, reading, learning, listening…

This week has been quiet. With the kids back in school, it’s like we’re finally catching our breath as a family after a very busy holiday season. I’ve spent most of my time at home, with no set agenda and little running around. Sure, I have taken care of household responsibilities, but I’ve used many of my minutes sitting at the table, reading my Bible and praying and meditating on verses God has highlighted to me.

In the stillness this morning, I wondered: shouldn’t I be more busy? My To-Do list laid unfinished beside me, and here I was chatting with God.

Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary.
– Jesus’s words in Luke 10:41

Why do so many moms, including me, wear busyness as a badge of honor? Why do we rank our value and productivity by tasks completed, number of activities our kids are involved in and organizations/ministries we have a leadership role, on top of demanding full-time jobs (within or outside the home)?

Too often, we run ourselves ragged. We stack our schedules to give our children every opportunity, when it really isn’t necessary. Our homes become a yard of passing ships, trying to keep up. More often than not, “busy” becomes a rival to “good” when people ask us “How have you been?” while sitting at the third ballgame of the week or when bustling into Sunday School with a “we made it!” sigh that all mothers understand.

Why is the mark of a successful mom being “busy”?

We look at the life of the “Proverbs 31 woman”, and wonder how she did it! We hold her up on a practically unattainable pedestal, and think we must be just like her if we want our children to rise up and call us blessed, too. This chapter of the Bible was written by a King called Lemuel, and it is an oracle his mother taught to him. She wanted him to choose a wife wisely, so she described a woman to him with the qualities he should look for: most importantly a woman who fears and follows the Lord. This isn’t a laundry list of what a worthy wife should do, it’s a gathering of qualities that we as women should strive to develop and exercise. A beautiful, capable woman in God’s eyes is trustworthy, encouraging, hardworking, nurturing, shrewd, strong, generous, honorable and wise. These can only be learned by spending time at the feet of Jesus, and walking each day by His side.

Busyness can too often block us from the one thing necessary to Jesus: wholeheartedly being with Him.

Most of us have already burst out of the gates, racing into this new year full throttle. God has so many opportunities for us to put our faith into action and be about His Kingdom!

But before our schedules start exploding, let me encourage you (and remind myself) to not become so busy that we cannot simply be with Jesus.

Journey to the Manger: Anna

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

Matt and the kids try to quickly memorize what objects are on the tray.

As my family continues our Journey to the Manger, we stopped by the Temple and met an old woman named Anna.

At the age of 84, God gave Anna a beautiful gift. Anna had lived in the Temple for decades. She became a widow seven years into her marriage, and spent every waking moment in the Temple from that point, pouring out her heart to the Lord, worshiping Him, and declaring His praises. Out of such a deep intimacy with her Heavenly Father came great sensitivity to the working of the Holy Spirit. She learned how to pay attention to God’s movement.

Anna

Anna

So, when a new mother and father entered the Temple one day, cradling their infant son, Anna was ready and waiting for God to speak, like she did every day. This time Anna heard the God of the Universe cry out and coo from by Mary’s loving arms. This elderly lady, so close to Heaven, beheld Heaven’s promise and joy with her own eyes. Right away she broke out in praise and began to witness to everyone around that this child would redeem them all!

Anna spent so much time with God, she was quick to feel His presence and respond. She paid attention. For most of us around the celebration of Christ’s birth, our focus is much less trained. Too often we succumb to the Christmas crazy, running from one store to the next for the perfect gifts, squeezing in parties and school programs and church musicals and family gatherings. We become too busy to receive God’s greatest gift: the presence of His Son.

Today, we put our focus to the test. My husband and kids put their game faces on as I revealed a tray of objects, and they began intensely scanning the items for the next minute. Then, they worked together to recall from memory as many of the items as they could. They impressively remembered 20 out of 26! Jackson explained that he just needed to close his eyes to see the tray and remember what it held.

Maybe the same memory device could also be used in our spiritual lives. We need to spend more time with our eyes closed in prayer to sear God’s promises on our hearts. Anna spent years and years meditating on God’s Word and willingly serving Him. When the time came, Anna was ready to experience the joy of Christ.

This Christmas, that’s what we need most: Jesus.

 

Click here to learn more about celebrating Advent with your family this Christmas, including access to a Scripture plan, free downloads and activity ideas. For more on Journey to the Manger, an advent experience from Focus on the Family, visit the Thriving Family website.