This past summer, we went to Arkansas for our annual vacation at the lake with all of my extended family. As is customary, the guys went and rented jet skis one afternoon.

Being the generous-hearted person I am (read: the person who would rather read a book in the cool cabin than risk life and limb doing water sports. Ahem.), I offered to stay back at the cabin with our children while my husband went out to have fun on the jet ski.

About two hours later, my sister knocked on the cabin door and said that my mom was going to watch our children so I could go down and enjoy the jet ski with my husband. While I would certainly have rather stayed put, I knew my husband would love for me to go careening around on the jet ski with him. So I took our children over to my parent’s cabin to spend time with Grandma and I headed down to the boat dock where I was told I was supposed to meet up with my husband.

There weren’t any jet skis in sight, but I figured they’d be back soon. So I sat down on the dock and waited. And waited. And waited.

(I found out later that the guys had gone back to get gas at the jet ski rental dock and then there was some confusion at the rental place as to when they needed to return the jet skis which took them a long time… they felt terrible when they found out later that I’d been sitting there waiting for them all that time!)

I hadn’t prepared to be sitting and waiting at the boat dock, so I had nothing to do — no book to read, no paper to scribble down a to-do list or map out a blog post, no iPhone to check my email, no nothing. And I was afraid if I ran all the way back up the hill to the cabin, I’d miss the guys when they came back to pick me up.


As I sat there, I realized something: I never just sit.

Never.

In fact, with how antsy and uncomfortable I felt, I realized I don’t know how to just sit. I have to keep hands or head busy at all times. And most of the time, I’m trying to multi-task to keep both of them busy in three different directions.

The honest answer is: I’m addicted to adrenaline. I want to constantly be going-going-going and doing-doing-doing.

Why? Well, I probably mentally justify that I’m trying to use my time wisely. And yes, of course, I’m not suggesting that I should develop the habit of laziness.

But I’ve been pondering this recently, digging deep, and really asking myself: have I become obsessed with busyness? Obsessed to the point that I can’t even stop to savor the moments? Obsessed to the point that stopping to pray is hard because I can’t shut my mind off and focus wholly on Jesus?

That’s what I was challenged most by when reading 7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess. Truthfully, I picked up the book because it looked like a fun and inspiring read.

As my friends well know, I disdain clutter, I don’t like shopping, and I’m happy with re-wearing the same things over and over again. (My husband even teased me that if I did the 7 Clothes Experiment — you know the one in the book like Jen did where you only wear seven different items of clothing for a month? — that I’d actually get to add a few things to my sparse wardrobe that month!)

The chapters on clothing and shopping and electronics were just lots of preaching to the choir. And I was starting to feel a little uppity. You know, like, I’ve got this whole freedom from excess thing down pat. I don’t know what the rest of everyone else’s problem is, but apparently I’m just a little more holy or something.

Yeah. I should know better than to start patting myself on the back. Every time I do that, God shakes some sense (and humility!) back into me by hitting me square in the forehead with a two-by-four.

And that’s what chapter seven in Jen’s book was for me. Maybe I only have 12 to 15 items in my wardrobe at any given time, maybe I have clutter-free kitchen countertops, and maybe I can shop at Target without buying a cartload of stuff that’s not on my list.

But the trying to load too much onto my plate? Guilty as charged.

You know how Jen talks about the Seven Sacred Pauses, stopping seven times in the day to read Scripture and pray? Well, when I read that, I immediately thought, “Are you kidding me? When would I find time to do that? Isn’t reading my Bible and a devotional book every morning enough?”

Yes, I know, it sounds ridiculous to admit that aloud. But I’m being authentic here.

It’s almost like my morning quiet time has become just another to-do on my long list of frenzied productivity. Just one more thing to check off my list so I can feel like I’m doing my duty.

It’s like I’ve become so busy doing life that I’ve stopped living life. I’m too focused on making sure that I plow through my to-do list and can pat myself on the back for being a powerhouse of productivity. In the process, I’m missing the moments and plowing over people.


Chapter seven was the reality jolt I needed to help me step back and re-examine my life. If I couldn’t even find time to carve out for stopping to pray and read Scripture more than once in the morning, that might be indication I’ve got a priorities problem.

So, I’ve committed to be more intentional to practice the principle of quiet. In fact, I bought a candle that I light every morning as my reminder to take time to be still, to really stop and listen to what He wants to say to me.

Because if I’m too busy for Jesus, I’m just plain too busy.

By: Crystal, Money Saving Mom

 

photo credit; photo credit; photo credit

 

***

Tune in this Friday for a link up on Stress! If this week’s chapter affected you in any way, we want to know about it! So share about it on your own blog and come back and link up this Friday {or share in the comments}!

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  1. 1

    You are not alone here. I think a lot of us women struggle with the the obsession of busyness. So many good thoughts to ponder in this post. I really want to focus on taking more time for still and quiet.

  2. 3

    “Be still and know that I am God.” Be. Still! You are so right. I covet this stillness, but rarely do I just stop and do it. If I do stop, my mind wanders to the to-do list. What are we creating in our children if all they see is us working through our list? We need grace in this too though. We need the strength of God to lead us to the still waters and rest in His green pastures.

    Thank you for this thought-provoking take on stillness! It sounds like a book that I should pick up.

    • 4

      I’m thankful that my Heavenly Father isn’t bound by a to-do list! And you are so right, I want to set an example of orderliness and diligence before my children, but most of all, I want them to see grace and love. Those are paramount to the to-do list!

  3. 5

    What a great post Crystal…Sometimes it’s amazing how God shows up out of nowhere and shows us just what we need for that very moment and it changes our lives forever! You are a great inspiration to Moms everywhere!

    For me..since I’m older I’ve learned that I MUST have quiet time each day..it’s just become who I am about..I almost go crazy if I don’t have a little moment or two of doing nothing and just spending time with me and God…I become unfocused, grouchy, confused..well you get the pic.
    Thank you for sharing your heart! You are amazing :)
    Blessings to you!

    • 6

      I so agree about having a quiet time each morning… it’s what I look forward to when I wake up in the mornings. Well, that and coffee. ;)

      I’m working on keeping that quiet spirit with me through the rest of the day — especially when life feels anything but quiet. :)

  4. 7

    Great reminder for me today as I am struggling with an injury that has taken away my running time for the past 3 weeks. I so want to get out there and run, its my prayer time, my sort it out time, my alone time….yet God is also showing me its grown to be Idol time. I have had so many people lift me up with compliments about how I can run so long, that I have pulled away from the reason I began running long in the first place, and that was to spend more quiet time with God.

  5. 8

    I relate so well to “patting myself on the back” and being brought to my knees EVERY TIME. I’ve had it happen time and again. If I catch myself in a thought like that, I IMMEDIATELY cry out to God about it because I know what’s going to happen. :) The thing is catching myself!

    Busyness is a blessing, but it is so easy today to get busy, busy, busy. My husband and I have talked about how we went to bed earlier and read magazines etc. more when we were first married, before we had internet.

    I also love the opportunities and situations God puts in our lives to teach us or guide us into a certain thought.

    • 9

      God is so good at reminding us how much we need Him — and how we’re all a beautiful mess! And we each have our own struggles and messes, so we can learn from each other and constantly be reminded that we don’t have our act together. :)

  6. 10

    So many great things here, I’m not sure even where to start. But that whole fidgety feeling of waiting without an iphone or book or to-do list – yea I’ve been there. And it kind of scared me how crack-like that impulse can be. I’m trying to actually cut down where I take my phone with me, because if it’s not there I’m forced to be quiet and just be. The absence of the phone is the reminder to focus on what’s actually in front of me. Thanks so much for this beautiful, vulnerable post, Crystal.

    ~Lisa-Jo

  7. 12

    Again, another great post from Crystal. Thank You!

  8. 13

    I wrote the draft of a parallel post for my own blog!!! It amazes to me how God will underline a message He has for my heart. Many thanks for this message, Lord.

  9. 14

    love.

  10. 15

    Your last line hit ME like that two by four in the forehead. “Too busy for Jesus just means I am too busy.” I am with you and I didn’t realize it until you said it. Thank you! I think I’ll pull out that Bible study book that has been waiting for me. :) I’ve read your money-saving blog, and it is nice to hear your voice here.

  11. 17

    gosh i needed this like a bucket of cold water to the face.. yesterday my baby asked why i never go have lunch with her at school. there are days when i forget to take my meds. my poor dog is getting chubby from lack of a good walk. all because i’m so caught up in “what needs to be done” and feeling like i have to have all my ducks in a row or i can’t breathe. i wonder if this is just a mom thing?

  12. 19

    Thanks for this wonderful and needed post! I really enjoyed reading it and I can totally relate. It’s hard for me to sit down and listen to the sermon on Sundays because I’m so used to multi-tasking. Our pastor preaches for an hour most weeks so I really get antsy. I think it’s easy for us to get in productivity mode because we truly have so many things that NEED to be done, cooking, cleaning, laundry, homeschooling, etc. I want to slow down and live life with quiet moments but it can be so hard to carve out the time even when you WANT to. Children take so much time and energy.
    Your writing has really gotten amazing over the years! Great article!

    • 20

      I think you and I are a lot alike… except you can run circles around me when it comes to productivity (I sincerely mean that; you’re an inspiration!). :)

      Thanks so much for your kind encouragement. God is good to use broken vessels for His glory.

  13. 21

    I have so been in the exact same spot. And I have found that I need quiet to revive my very soul. And yet, that is most often, the first thing I let slip and go. I think (in general) our society is afraid of quiet. We don’t know what to do when there is no noise surrounding us.

  14. 22

    Reading this was like looking in a mirror of sorts. Thank you for sharing and reminding me to be still yet again.

  15. 23

    I too like to be busy working on something. There is a lot of points that you mentioned that are really making me think of ways I can spend more time in God’s word and be still. Thank you for always sharing your heart and where God is growing you. It’s always encouraging!

  16. 24
    jennifer says:

    Loved reading this. thank you for sharing these thoughts.

  17. 25
    Jaysa Hursa says:

    Thank you for this lovely post. I’ve been finding that lately my priorities are completely mixed up! I have been scrambling each day to find more ways to make money, more ways to save, etc etc, trying to “help out” as a newlywed. I found that I have put these activities before spending quality time with my husband, reading my scriptures, and praying daily. I’ve been trying to fit them all in my day but have pushed aside things that are much more important. I read recently in the New Testament in Matthew 6:20-21, “But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” I have found that my heart IS where I have found “treasures.” I love this scriptures and I felt like it went so perfectly with what you were saying in your post. Thank you!

  18. 26

    You are so right, Crystal. I feel this way also. If I’m not busy ALL the time then I am failing as a mom, housewife, friend, etc. I feel that if I’m not juggling ten things at a time then I’m being lazy. Taking time to smell the roses is definitely easier said than done. I think so many moms out there feel the way you do. Thanks for the post.

  19. 27

    I LOVE this!!! So appreciate your willingness to be real… I love how God is calling so many of us to {re}learn how to Be Still!

    Thank you!

  20. 28

    Very well written Crystal! I always admired and looked up to you as a person, but the way you told this story, I think you are a very good writer too. Not to mention the message you have given in this article. I know that antsy feeling that comes to me with even 5 minutes of inactivity.

  21. 29

    I definitely resonate with feeling like prayer and quiet time are something to check off my to-do list. Something that has helped recently is journaling my prayers- forcing me to sit and think. I also have trouble just doing nothing. Just enjoying creation. Thank you for your honesty.

  22. 30

    Crystal, I got my wake up call when all of a sudden I went from being an independent, busy homeschool mom to no longer being able to drive or read or essentially do anything else. My two-by-four came in the form of functional blindness. One day I was doing it all and the next I couldn’t keep my eyelids open. The condition is called blepharospasm and my eyelids spasm shut at the most inopportune times and won’t open. The treatments for this condition aren’t working for me and I have to hire someone to drive my children and me to do the basics, going to doctors’ appointments, running errands, etc. My husband works out of town, and arrives home around 8 at night. I’ve had to learn to not be so independent and to rely on others and the Lord which is very hard for me. I am also learning to be still and listen for God’s voice. It’s been a hard lesson and one I’ve been learning kicking and screaming. Waiting is hard, but waiting on the Lord is life changing.

  23. 33

    I remember many many years ago my very spiritual mother in law telling me about talking to God about a not very nice thought she had.. It was just a momentary thought.. and she was immediately repentant… I was in my early 20s at the time & I was just amazed.. She spends most her day in communion with God.. Shes still human, but shes shown me a way of being that I appreciate some 30+ years beyond.
    When was the last time you lay upon the ground under a tree? Lay on a blanket & looked up at the stars? Walk barefoot in the soft deep grass. They’re amazing experiences & something I try to do every once in a while.. It sure grounds you.
    Its difficult to not be too busy in this super fast paced life.. but it sounds like you’ve had your eyes & heart opened.. and thats always the best first step!
    Blessings!

  24. 34
    Beth Williams says:

    Crystal,

    I also have trouble sitting still and being quiet. I find myself antsy wanting to do something–even get up and walk. Only if I get really really tired can I sit for hours and do nothing.

    I heard about the praying 7 times daily. I’m working on it as we speak. The other 7s in the book are simple for me to do. Not this one.

    Great post!@

  25. 35

    Crystal, I totally hear you! I’ve been dealing with too much busyness for quite some time. Because I am kind of an over-achiever, I feel badly if I’m ever just sitting still reading or watching something. I always have to be assembling products while watching a film or hand-hemming something while having family time. There’s nothing wrong with either one, but when I don’t have something to keep me occupied I don’t know what to do!

    The last couple weeks I have been totally running out of energy (probably brought on by overdoing some large projects), and I’ve been realizing that I need to slow down.
    I took one of your business courses back in 2007, so this isn’t the first time you’ve given me inspiration about juggling life and business priorities. ; )

    Thanks for the encouragement!
    Katrina

  26. 37
    Anonymous says:

    What a great reminder this post is! I started trying to get organized again for the umpteenth time in my life this summer by reading the great guidelines on moneysaving mom. I felt inspired by God and finally had some real methods to achieving this. However, it was becoming consuming having a never ending to do list. I think its all about BALANCE! We all try too hard to do it all. I like having a clean house and all, but its not going to matter 25 years from now. I would rather remember a last minute picnic or roadtrip or camping trip where the kids are so super excited and say “best parents ever!” So, for me its going to be about enjoying the journey, being closer to God, and being maybe just a little more organized. Thank you for the inspiration!

    • 38

      One thing that has really helped me is to stop and consider what is really going to matter 25 years from now. I want to wrap my life around those things and not get so caught up in worrying about the day-to-day things that really are going to fade into oblivion and not matter in the grand scheme of life.

      Enjoy the journey, friend!

  27. 39

    Wonderful post! Thank you for the reminder that God is not just another thing on my list to check off.

  28. 40

    What a great post Crystal! I’ve been following your blog for years and I think this was an eye-opening one for me as I too have the same “busyness” problem. The other day I was playing with my kids and stopped to grab a washcloth to wash one of their faces that was all dirty and then I stopped in the middle of playing with them to reorganize some of the books on the bookshelf that they had taken out. And my husband finally said “Why don’t you just stop? Just stop and play with them and enjoy it and stop trying to clean up!” That really hit me like a ton of bricks…here I am always wishing I had more time with my children and I’m finally playing with them and what do I do? I try to clean at the same time because I can’t just sit still and play with them. I’ll definitely have to try out the book you referenced in your post…maybe that will help me. :)

    • 41

      Your marriage sounds a lot like mine with me being the Type A spouse and my husband being much more relaxed. He’s taught me so much about this over the past nine years we’ve been married.

      I want to be the kind of mom who can just sit and savor life and just enjoy *being* with my family. The other day we were somewhere waiting together and I was so excited because I was just there, all there, soaking up the moment. Not thinking about the next day, not worrying about my to-do list. Just 100% there. It was a beautiful thing.

      So glad you’re joining me on this journey of life — and learning to live in the moment! We’re all a work in progress, aren’t we? :)

  29. 42
    Diana Vlay says:

    Dear Crystal, I am glad that you figured this out yourself. Although I love your website, lately I have been thinking that you are plowing through life. I wrote to you once that I had cancer and that your website helped me through the trials of treatment. I am now a survivor and learned through cancer to be quiet and still at times during the day. Unfortunately, it took cancer to calm me down and to not believe life was one long “to do list”..and Crystal..I am an avid knitter…I use knitting to calm my mind but take it off your “goals” list!!! “Do 25 rows of knitting” is going to take the joy out of the pleasure of “just knitting”! Knitting for me is an “active meditation but certainly setting goals in my knitting would make it a “chore”. Peace of mind to you dear Crystal…Diana

    • 43

      Isn’t it fun how we’re all so different? Since I’m Type A, I’m learning that I have to intentionally plan for margin and relaxation — otherwise it doesn’t happen! It might sound weird, but it’s true — and the results have been amazing!

      As I’ve been planning for more margin and quiet in my life the past two years (and especially the past two months!), I’ve been amazed at what a difference it’s made! My husband has also said I’m just a much calmer person and can just take time to sit and enjoy life rather than feeling like I always have to be doing something.

      It’s been SO good for me and I’m so thankful for the various people and books God has brought into my path to help me work on developing more quiet as it’s not something that comes naturally to me. I have a feeling it will be a lifelong process… not something I’ll ever just learn and be done with. :)

      By the way, I appreciate your input on the knitting goals, but you know how I said I have to plan for quiet? Well, putting specific knitting goals and reading goals on my goals list inspires me to actually take the time to knit and read (things that really relax me!), versus just plowing through life as I have a tendency to do. This has been a huge help to me… though I know it wouldn’t work for everyone, especially people who have different personalities. :)

  30. 44

    Thanks for the insightful post Crystal. Several interesting discussions in the comments as well!

    You mentioned in one of your responses that you focus on things that will be important to you in 25 years. This is such a great idea. I work with someone who has inspired me a lot in this area. She has two phrases that always stick in my mind:

    #1 – Treat people like you’re going to work with them for the next 30 years. This has changed my reaction to small mistakes or someone having a bad day almost entirely. I take a deep breath and let things slide. I remember that this person and I are on a long journey together. I’m sure I annoy them at times as well!

    #2 – It’s about the people, people, people. The woman I work with drives me absolutely crazy sometimes. She will talk with people for hours! At the same time she is one of the most passionately curious people I’ve ever met about what’s going on in other people’s lives. As an example, she was running around 3 days before her wedding and stopped me in the hallway a few weeks ago. She then proceed to ask me about my sister’s recent travels for half an hour. I’ll never forget that.
    Thanks for the insightful post Crystal. Several interesting discussions in the comments as well!

    You mentioned in your response to

  31. 45

    I love your authenticity here! Thanks for sharing.

  32. 46

    This was so good! I’m not a mom, but I feel like I’m there. Sometimes it seems people want to have me sign up for more and more and take on other work and volunteer to babysit for parents’ night out and take on the nursery and stay at work late and do other things because they assume I do not have a husband or children. Some with families tell me my life is way more busy than even theirs and I will never have time to find someone to marry if it keeps up. It’s a strange hamster wheel of a cycle that is so difficult to get out of. Thank you for your perspective and authenticity!

  33. 47

    Hi, thanks for sharing this post! My grandmother said that when she would try to do it all and go, go, go, that she was developing “Wonder Woman Syndrome.” It’s so true, and a daily for battle for some of us. I wrote about her “10 symptoms of the wonder woman syndrome” here: http://www.roar.pro/10-symptoms-of-the-wonder-woman-syndrome/ Hope you find it encouraging!

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