Making Sense of Life's Messes

You > Me.

youme2 You > Me.

I’m so stinkin’ busy.

At least that’s what I tell myself on a daily basis, and when I forget, I have friends that faithfully remind me of my “busy bones.” And (ugh, I hate this part), they’re right.

My busyness is more appropriately termed “overwhelmed”. I am known to consume myself in my work, finding way too deep a meaning in where I allocate my talents. A kind of self-induced weight that zaps me of the energy that I need for the interactions I’m given with others . . . Interactions that matter more than my title.

I can sit at my desk and sort through five different projects in my head all at once, and write out lists of tasks. I can wordsmith. I can concept, plan, and execute-on routinely and without hesitation. Sound like a bragfest? Far from it. See, I’m perfecting a GLARING imperfection.

People approach me while I’m plowing through e-mails and the best I can muster up is a “huh”, “hmm”, or genuinely listening while pounding away a million miles a minute on my keypad. And honestly, who does that help?  Not my sanity, and especially not the person who is requesting my attention.  (And c’mon, I was raised in the south – have I lost my grasp of southern hospitality?)

In an effort to care deeply about the work I have been given the opportunity to do, I am being careless about those around me who need me the most. 

photo8 21 You > Me.

The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still. — Exodus 14:14

I’ll start with what is leading to this “revelation”. I’ve recently been reading through a few books (of which I HIGHLY recommend), “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning, “7” by Jen Hatmaker, and “The Minimalists” by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  (If you dare try to tell me it’s a happy coincidence that I’ve been reading through all three at the same time, I’ll have to laugh — it’s just too perfect a storm.) All of which deal with the pursuit of a minimalistic attitude and spirit.

So what exactly does that mean? Good question . . . I’m still figuring that out. But here’s how I’m sorting through it: The problem isn’t that the world is moving by me in a million little pieces – it’s that I feel the need to consume/be a part of/weigh in on, every single one of those little pieces. (Sigh deep with me.)

If I’m on my computer at home, I have the t.v. on in the background. If I’m watching a movie, I’m also perusing through Pinterest. Before I go to bed, I am sure to scroll through Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. On my drive home, I catch up on all my personal emails, text messages, and phone calls.

So, I am busy. But the sad part is, the majority of my “busyness” is a result of my own self-imposed obligation to stay busy. I’ve never been a fan of sitting still . . . but I’ve also never been a fan of neglecting those around me. 

I’m literally handing over my leftovers and expecting others to resound in gratitude. 

photo4 2 You > Me.

Teach me, and I will be silent; 
make me understand how I have gone astray. — Job 6:24

In “The Minimalists,” Millburn recalls a word he heard from Rob Bell that talked about a command from God to Moses to travel to the top of the mountain — followed by a command to “be on the mountain”.

Why would God have asked such a command? Think about it . . . Our “next-step mentality” is not merely a result of our busy culture, for some of us, it’s knit into our DNA.

“God didn’t want Moses to start worrying about how he was going to get down, or worry about whether or not he turned off the lights before he left the house, or worry about what bills need to be paid this week. God just wanted Moses to be on the mountain, to enjoy the mountain.”

I’m so busy looking at the clock, the keyboard, the screen, my feet, my phone — you get the point — that I’m not looking out.

On this trip to Seattle, I realized — get ready for it, because I’m going to sound like my own personal broken record — I need to create the room for margin. And to do that, I have to stop being the queen of multi-tasking. I have to stop trying to be great at everything.

I should stop biting off more than I can chew. I should lighten my load and use my energy to lighten your load. 

photo1 2 You > Me.

I am leaving you with a gift-peace of mind and heart. 
And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give.
So don't be troubled or afraid.
— John 14:27

I decided to use this break from my routine to once again test this change in attitude/perspective: “How can I make a point to give my very best to every single person I meet?” I’ve been there before. Surely I can slow down enough to do it again . . . I can make time for others.

Here’s what happened: I stopped to make people feel known, to feel heard, appreciated, thought of, cared for. They smiled, laughed, look at me confused, welcomed conversation, or went on with their busy day.

But you know what happened inside of me? I started to feel freed up to enjoy the thing in life that I love the most: moments. I made the time to create them with others, and I watched as it transformed their expression, their mannerisms, and hopefully – their day.

In cutting out the excess that I was willfully over consuming, I was able to make time to indulge in others – in a way that left both parties better off than had I been the typical queen-of-multi-tasking-head-stuck-in-my-phone-and-list-of-to-do’s.

I was happier. They were happier. I felt lighter and hopeful and encouraged . . . And it was all because I chose to make the time to simply “BE on the mountain.”

Cheers to a new minimalistic attitude I will fight myself (daily) to pursue and maintain in 2014.  I hope you’ll join me on the journey, and hold me accountable as I fumble my way through it.

photo10 2 You > Me.

What do you think? Can you resolve to stop overloading your own plate? To drop the balancing act? To stop overindulging, over consuming, overworking? Can you pause from your routine to make moments with those around you who could desperately use you? Would you be willing to slow down enough to simply “be on the mountain”?

  • Josh Read

    This is beautifully honest.