When my husband and I lived in Afghanistan, we noticed wedding invitations came about three days prior to the event. These gold-embossed, elaborately designed cards were not a last-minute project, so clearly the marriage celebration was planned weeks, maybe months, earlier. Why wait so long to deliver the news to desired guests?
We gave regrets too many times in the first years, not understanding the full meaning of this cultural practice. Making time to attend the nuptial party communicated a value, a respect for those asking for our attendance. There was no assumption we were sitting around doing nothing. The unspoken challenge was:
Would we stop our ongoing busyness to grace the family with our presence? Would we forgo our own agenda for someone else’s important event?
Even a simple shared meal in most foreign cultures ignores the clock on the wall. Dishes come in waves beginning with nuts and juice, then perhaps a soup or salad/vegetable dish, followed by bread and the main entrée, and finally fruit, dessert, and tea to finish. All this occurs in slow-motion, over hours, not microwave minutes. Conversation and connecting is really the focus, not the food.
How do we know how to order our days in a healthy balance for our body and spirit and relationships and responsibilities? Do we let our culture or Mr. Busy assess our value?
We need to hear God’s voice telling us to move forward or not, to rest, to pick people over productivity, or to just breathe. Hebrews 4:9-10 (NRSV) tells us: So then, a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labors as God did from his.
Not everyone will agree or confirm our choices to stop, to slow down, to leave room for worshipping God, to build toward resiliency and health. No matter, we must take our stand. Busyness can train wreck our lives and those around us. Certainly, we will not enjoy our life to the extent God had in mind when He made us and set us free from the slavery of sin and selfishness.
Reach out to trusted friends if help is needed to break out of busy-slavery. We must listen to God’s loving voice about Sabbath and margin, not slave-driver boss man, Mr. Busy.
How do you tune out the relentless call to busyness and develop a healthy balance that includes rest? What needs readjustment in your current situation? Who can help you make the changes needed?