Heart: Too Busy

Bench Alone

By +Jeanne Takenaka @JeanneTakenaka

We’re quickly moving into a busy time of year. Most Americans feel weary before Thanksgiving ever rolls around. Never mind Black Friday, all the Christmas parties, shopping, wrapping presents, sending out Christmas letters, viewing the lights, etc.

I met with my functional medicine doctor last week. I’ve been dealing with some issues for years, and things aren’t getting better. In spite of taking different medicines and supplements. In spite of attempting to make a few lifestyle changes.

A week in the life of

Things aren’t changing.

As we talked, he shared something with me that I’d never heard before . . . that the Chinese character for “Busy” meant, “annihilation of the heart.”

I did a little research and found that there are a number of experts (as far as my brief online search could find, anyway) who disagree wth this translation of the Chinese character.

Nevertheless, the seed’s been planted.  I’ve written on busy-ness before, but now my body is forcing me to become intentional about making some changes.

Red leaf among busy brown

I’ve thrived on busy for years . . . decades, even. I like being busy. I’ve found value in accomplishing stuff. Affirmation has come with some of those accomplishments, and that’s fed my self-esteem. And my self-concept. And my self-value.

Busyness has affected me physically, mentally, and spiritually. When I’m too busy with outward things, the inward part of me suffers. When I spend time with Jesus simply to mark it off my to-do list for the day, what have I missed?

Leafy busyness

When my focus is on getting through the quiet time, I’ve missed that intimacy with the Creator of my soul, my spirit, my essence. I’ve missed out on hearing His thoughts toward me. I’ve missed His marching orders for the day. I’ve missed that touch of His spirit with mine . . . all so I could have a few more minutes to get something done.

I can head into my days after time spent in the Word, but I walk through them with a limp. I can only go so long before I begin to fall apart—emotionally, spiritually, mentally, and physically.

And trust me, when I begin to fall apart, it ain’t pretty. Just ask my family.

Gathered Bricks copy

The hard thing is? When I’ve gone so many days without that intimate connection with Jesus, my heart becomes hardened. It takes time for the Lord to break through the walls that go up, often without me even realizing.

I have to re-learn how to be still before Him. And this often requires a lesson (or ten) in humility. When I  place more value in being busy than on my relationship with Jesus, I become puffed up. People may not see it, but God does.

Sunrise on burnscar

If I go for long enough, my heart will be completely distanced from Jesus, and I’ll have the insane idea that I can do this life in my own strength. And that, is exactly where the enemy of my soul wants me . . . depending on myself rather than on my Savior. 

Heart with cracks copy

I can depend on myself for only so long. Sooner or later, I’m going to run out of my own strength. My resources will run dry. And then where will I be? I’ll be empty and have no one to lift me up.

Half built cabin

I don’t want to get to that place!

As I contemplate the effects of busyness on my heart, the results can be devastating.

Let’s face it. There are seasons where we can’t avoid busyness. But, maybe we can evaluate how to give ourselves rest amid those seasons.

Green Door

With the holiday season nearly upon us, we’ll all be stretched thin. The question is, how will you keep yourself—your heart—from straying away from Jesus?

Let’s visit more about that next week. Be thinking, because I’ll want to hear from you!

What about you? How is your heart effected when you are busy? What other impacts does busy-ness have on your life?

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38 thoughts on “Heart: Too Busy

  1. How quickly the calendar fills. One advantage, if I can call it that, of chronic illness is that I can’t physically be all the places to do all the things I think I should do. But that doesn’t mean my heart and mind don’t get distracted and wrapped up in the “too much.” Great reminder to slow down and focus.

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    • Marie, chronic illness does color a life in a different hue. And you’re right, even if we’re not out and about doing things, our minds and hearts can still get distracted in the too much. Thanks for that reminder. I’ve missed you, friend!

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  2. I need time to myself, to be quiet. And, I’m learning to read this in my girls. I usually try to “schedule” a quiet day for us each week – to hang out, do laundry, play in the backyard, just be. But, I’m noticing quiet days don’t always follow the schedule. I’m slowly learning to read the signs, to try and get in an extra nap (for Elle) and to have days of rest. This is more for the girls – I’m still “on” during these moments, but it sure feels different than the chaos of going out.

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    • As a mom of two young girls, you’re always “on”, Annie. Planning one day a week to just “be” at home is so wise! And learning to read when your girls need that time is also wise. 🙂

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  3. Isn’t that just the modern-day dilemma? Busyness. I’m guilty too. Thanks for the reminder to be still with Him. ((Hug)) Visiting you today from Testimony Tuesday. 🙂

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  4. The busy seasons can become toxic overtime, can’t they?! I don’t think I really notice how much until I take a break (or am forced to) and realize how much better I feel when I have time to rest, to sit with the Lord, to take care of the little things that make a big difference in my life. We don’t all have the luxury of slowing down permanently, but I do believe if we can find those slow moments – those still moments – we’ll want to make it more a habit, because it truly make a a difference in the quality of our life. Thanks for the reminder, Jeanne. Love you!

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  5. When I get too busy, I feel like I’m going to explode. Sometimes my mouth explodes. 🙂 I feel like I can’t breathe, and I just want to hide and cry. Go away, world. 🙂 I definitely have to pace myself. xoxo

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    • Shelli, I call that STRESS. I get to where I forget to breathe deep. I feel pressed in on and overwhelmed. Pacing ourselves is essential if we’re going to live each day well. Thanks for sharing, Shelli!

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  6. i don’t know if the chinese meaning you were told is correct or not, but i’m convinced what that dr. said is true. for some temperaments, it is truer than for others, but all of us need time to be human and stop running and racing around!

    i can’t tell you how many people i have known who, in answer to the question, “How are you?” can only give a schedule of their busy day or week! they don’t even know who they are or how to answer the question apart from what they are doing. needless to say, they aren’t close friends. it isn’t possible! they are too busy telling everyone how busy they are and can’t spend time getting to know anyone.

    i used to be hurt by these people. but no longer. i’m sad for them. they are not happy people.

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    • Yes, Martha. It’s so easy to find identity in how busy our schedules are. It’s sad when the schedule is the way a person answers, “How are you?” I’m glad you were able to move beyond being hurt. I’ve had to deal with some of that too. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  7. This is exactly right where I am at. Im done with being “busy”! God has been calling me to a season of rest, but it has been a struggle for me to let go of the busyness and all the “good” that I wanted to do. Its not all about that, its about my relationship with Him. Its a learning process. “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” (Isaiah 30:15). I have that hanging on my wall right now, because its in the quietness, and resting and sitting at His feet that I will find true freedom. Great reminder today! We all need it!

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    • Kortney, it is hard to let go of the busyness, for so many reasons. Yes, it’s about our relationship with Jesus, first and foremost. I love that verse in Isaiah. I’m so glad you added it to the conversation. Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  8. This is such an important message, Jeanne! My word for the year was REST, and although I think I’ve learned a bit about it, I also see how far I have to go. It’s so easy just to get caught up in too many activities, and then I have to learn all over again to leave margin in my schedule to just BE. Thanks for the timely reminder before the holidays!

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    • Betsy, it is so easy to get caught up in too many activities. I’ve been swinging on that pendulum too, trying to find the right amount of margin in my life. Being is so much harder than doing. But so much richer too. Thanks for the reassurance that I am not alone. 🙂

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  9. I’m there with you, Jeanne! I’ve been having some significant health problems that partially stem from too many intense years of busyness. We had extenuating family situations that took a lot, but yet, still, I needed to rest and didn’t. I’ve changed a lot recently and just yesterday was contemplating this season upon us. I plan to be intentional. Time with Jesus, time for rest, and the remainder will fall into place. Loved this! Thanks!

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    • Lori, I’m sorry you’ve been dealing with health problems. It’s never easy to stop our lives and give ourselves what we need to heal. The feeling of doing nothing is hard to accept as a “good thing.” We can both be intentional about resting amid the busy season. I so appreciate you stopping by!

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  10. Beautiful words! I love how we were thinking along the same lines today. What a blessing that God gave you this message of rest and stillness as well as me. God knew I needed to hear it again from others. Thank your being that person to remind me again of the importance of centering ourselves on God and intentionally inviting Him into the quiet. Blessings!

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    • Mary, my boys had a snow day today, so it’s taken me awhile to respond to comments. I LOVED your post. And, I love that God is speaking to both of us about rest and stillness too. Thanks for your encouragement here, and for stopping by!

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  11. Ugh. I get grumpy and short tempered and feel out-of-whack. I almost wish #write31days was in, say, February so that it’s not so close to the holidays. But, the problem is mine and my need to receive affirmation from others so that I push myself to busyness in order to feel satisfied. Thank you for the reminder that my satisfaction should come from knowing I’m doing what God wants me to do–not from marking things off my busy list!

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    • Yeah, it’s funny all the reasons we find ourselves busy, Anita. Affirmation has been high on my list too. Satisfaction of accomplishing? Yep, that’s been on there too. I hope you’re able to find moments of rest as we head into the Christmas season, my friend. I can only imagine all that #write31days takes out of a gal. 🙂 Thanks so much for stopping by!

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  12. Wow! Good one Jeanne! as time has been speeding up, seems many of us are injected with adrenalin to get things done. We know spending quality time with the Lord is the most important and most critical part of the day. So why do we forget so quickly? Hmmmm.

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    • Very true, Mom. Spending quality time with Jesus needs to be our number one priority each day. I think that time with Him can sometimes counteract the adrenaline the world spikes us with. 🙂 Thank you for adding your thoughts. 🙂 ❤

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  13. God is speaking to me in a similar vein, Jeanne, so I loved the reminder of your words today. I also love that photo of the blue door! 🙂 Thanks for sharing with us at Testimony Tuesday.

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  14. Jeanne, one of the first things I notice when I’m too busy or too tired is that I lose my sense of humor. I love to laugh, and I miss the giggle factor when it’s gone. One benefit of having older kids is they can take over around the home more if I need some extra time to spend on a project. It’s been a big blessing to me this year during NaNoWriMo to wake up to a spotless kitchen. I asked for help, and they delivered. 🙂 I wonder if they’d do windows?
    Blessings & Happy Thanksgiving ~ Wendy (I love that door picture.)

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    • Wendy, I’m the same way. I lose my laughter, and my ability to see reasons to laugh in the humorous things my boys do and say. They miss that laughter (because usually an impatient tone has replaced it), and so do I.

      I’m so glad your kids are supporting you as you write for NaNo. What a blessing to wake up to a spotless kitchen!! 🙂

      I always appreciate you stopping by. Have a great weekend.

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  15. Sorry it has taken me so long to get here…I’ve been…busy. Well, being sick can be a LOT of work! 😀

    Seriously, I have found that now, with the knowledge that I won’t finish what I’ve started, that it really doesn’t matter, I can afford to be a lot less busy.

    And I get a lot more done.

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    • First of all, anytime you’re here, adds to my day. I’m truly grateful you spent time and energy adding your thoughts. They always enlighten me.

      Being less busy and getting a lot more done tells me you’re focusing on your priorities, which is always a good thing, Andrew. Thank you for this reminder. Busy-ness doesn’t often equal productivity or purposefulness. I’m praying for you, friend.

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