When I started working on my post about minimalism last week, I wasn’t thinking about possessions at all. I was thinking about a place full of life’s excess: our calendars.
Even Americans reject materialism on principle, but we worship at the altar of Busy. We may dismiss the Mercedes as a status symbol of decades past, but the new status symbol is a busy schedule.
I haven’t been an adult for that long, so I’m not sure if this is a new phenomenon, but my unscientific, anecdotal research shows that 9 out of 10 people respond to the question, “How are you?” with, “Good. Really busy, but good.”
What we’re really saying is, “I’m important. People want to make appointments with me and invite me to dinner. I am sought after. I am loved. I belong.”
It’s important to feel loved, valued, and like you belong. Connecting with people and fulfilling those needs for yourself and others is worthwhile.
But I wonder how much actual connecting we’re doing. We are a frenetic, buzzing people, always moving to the next thing and rarely present in the moment.
Busy is elevated as a virtue, but I really believe it is an addictive distraction that distances us from one another and limits meaningful engagement with God, others and important ideas.
The worship of busy is costing us our marriages, our ability to think deeply, our spiritual growth, and our rest.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with a full schedule. My encouragement here is that we stop letting being busy define us, and that we intentionally choose how we spend our time.
Just as paring down possessions can increase emotional well being, so can paring down our schedules.
I thought about all of this, particularly with women in mind, when I named this site The Balanced Wife. Women expect more of themselves now than they have in possibly any other era.
We expect ourselves to be smart, successful at meaningful work, stylish and in shape. We want to be nurturing, engaged wives and mothers, gracious hostesses, flawless event planners.
All these things can be part of a meaningful life, but it’s important to honestly and intentionally prioritize which is important right now or during this season.
No one can do everything all the time, but we set ourselves up for failure with unreasonable expectations.
When I talk about balance, I don’t mean:
- juggling so much that you’re behind if you stop for one second.
- racing to meet other people’s expectations and having nothing left for yourself.
- cramming your schedule so full that there’s no margin or room for error.
A balanced wife makes time to think, time to rest, and has reasonable expectations for herself. She understands the ebb and flow of life, the shifting of priorities during different seasons. She knows that there is time for everything important, if she’ll stop to determine what’s important.
Most of the time, I have not been such a wife. I have let other people and my own demanding, impossible expectations of myself control my time. I have done many things poorly in my attempt to do them all. In the pages of my planner, I have sought my own self worth, defined by what I do instead of who I am.
Such a life is exhausting. Even if some of what we do in the constant pursuit of busy is worthwhile, it’s unsustainable.
If the idea of getting rid of excess possessions is refreshing, eliminating excess from my schedule is more so.
What is the most important thing on your schedule today? What can you cut out of your schedule?