I’m adequately occupied

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A short while back, I did a Record Live on the topic “Dear God, I’d like to hang out but I’ve got kids”. In a way, it felt like a follow-up not only to “The Pregnancy Diaries” series of articles I wrote for Adventist Record back in 2016, but also to the piece, “Diary of a first-time mum”, published in Signs of the Times magazine a year later.

In those pieces, what started out as a strong sense of bewilderment that I would soon be a mother became full-fledged despair as I discovered how overwhelming life was with a newborn.

More than six years on, an infinite amount of unconditional love has mostly replaced the feelings of despair. One thing, however, remains: Overwhelm. The challenges have changed, but the feeling life is moving at a manic pace is the same. I suppose it doesn’t help that children also grow at breakneck speed. One minute they’re teething, the next minute they’re losing the very same teeth. One minute they’ve just started solids, the next minute they’re cooking dinner for you.

While the Record Live title was mostly tongue-in-cheek, there was a strong element of truth in it. Life is busy—and not simply for those with kids. While parents have the lives of extra (little) people to manage and while these same children may not grant us the ability to pay attention, especially during church services, everybody is busy.

It’s become a standard reply to “How are you?”. Some people even go so far as to incorporate the concept into their greetings: “How are you? Must be busy.”

As Adam Waytz wrote in “Beware a culture of busyness” in the Harvard Business Review, “Put simply, busyness has become a status symbol. . . . People perceive others who are busy . . . to be important and impressive.” In other words, if you aren’t busy, you must either be worthless or lazy.

Now, I know that life can get a bit too much to handle at times. But as I quoted in Record Live, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1).

Sure, life is busy in the sense that I don’t have enough time to do everything that I would like to do. But is life so busy I don’t have enough time to do something I enjoy? To stalk people on social media?

I would have answered yes to those questions some six years ago. The season of being a mum to a young child was all-encompassing. Life was reduced to witnessing (and ensuring) my child go through a seemingly endless cycle of cry-eat-cry-sleep-cry-poop-cry.

Life was so busy God fell by the wayside. I knew I should be reading the Bible but my brain felt like mush whenever I had a spare moment. I knew I should be praying but I drifted to sleep whenever I closed my eyes.

If you are going through that season, I’d like to think God understands, since “the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7). He is, after all, our best Friend—the kind you can pick up from where you left off . . . months ago. But remember, best friends only become so because they have previously spent copious amounts of time together. And even if they don’t (or can’t) anymore, they still find time for each other. 

My busy season has waned and today, there’s an addition to my friendship with God—my son. We read the children’s Bible together, we pray together, we have discussions about God together. Even more precious are the times when my son teaches me about things he’s learned about God.

So remember, there is a season for every activity under the heavens. This means even if we do have busy seasons, it shouldn’t be our norm. Being busy will end, although I will concede the “season” may be longer for others.

More importantly, don’t let being busy define you. If you feel slightly awkward admitting you’re not busy, remember, “You are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:31) and even sparrows have time to sing.

Nowadays, when people ask me if I’m busy, I try to answer, “I’m adequately occupied.”

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