Years ago, I attended church with a couple named Jerry and Terry. My wife and I were friends with them, and we always looked forward to seeing them and saying, “Hi.” One Sunday, however, I saw Terry without Jerry. I asked if he was okay.
Terry said, with a touch of sarcasm, “Oh, he’s playing ‘cover the card’ bingo. He’s trying to fill every day with something work-related!”
Now, I can’t pretend to know if Jerry’s life was too full. Terry seemed to miss him, but she wasn’t angry. Jerry had an important position in his organization. Both of them understood that being gone on weekends from time to time was “part of the deal.”
However, I still think about that short conversation with Terry. I enjoy being busy. It makes me feel productive and valuable. But there have been times when I got so busy, I’m not sure I was adding more value at work or home.
Over the years, this question has become increasingly important to me: “When is life full, and when is it too full?”
What’s Your Personal Capacity?
Each of us is created uniquely, which means our desire and capacity to handle activity will be different from everyone else. We all have the same amount of time in our life, but how full we decide to make it is our choice.
For example, my wife doesn’t need her life jam-packed. She’s better with a little more margin. However, she’s had to learn how to live with me — someone who’s not great with quiet time (unless I’m sitting on a beach somewhere, reading books and watching waves).
Too busy for someone else might be just right for me.
Yet, there have been times when I was busy — and loving it — and didn’t recognize I was running myself ragged and missing out on some pretty incredible opportunities. So now, I try to ask myself, “Is my life right now comfortably full, or is it too full? And how can I know the difference?”
How Full Is Your Pot?
Picture a flowerpot of any size filled with dirt to the top edge. What will happen if you take a cup of sand and try to pour it into your pot?
While some sand might stick, very quickly the extra sand overflows.
It’s the same with our lives.
When we get too busy (like that full pot of dirt), we reduce our capacity to take on anything new (the sand). We may begin to lose our ability to learn, go on a new adventure, or digest someone else’s opinion.
If you’re in the middle of one of life’s transitions, chances are good you are struggling to see what’s next. You may not be able to see any new possibilities because you’ve packed your life so tightly that no new ideas can get in.
I’ve been there.
In those circumstances, God has been faithful to slow me down so I can begin to create the capacity to receive something new. Don’t get me wrong — I don’t enjoy the process. I find it incredibly frustrating. But sometimes, it’s exactly what I need.
In the Gospel of Luke, Martha and Mary had opened their home to Jesus and the disciples. Martha was a great hostess, busy doing all the stuff we need to do when we have guests.
Her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping, and Martha was angry about it.
“But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’
“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:40-42)
I love how Jesus showed Martha that, her in busyness, she was focused on the wrong things.
Is life too full for you? Let God slow you down. Listen to His voice and let him point out to you where you’re too busy. Then, let Him show you “what is better.” The only way you can find it is by quieting yourself, sitting at His feet, and listening.
Dale Kreienkamp is a keynote speaker, Human Resources consultant, and the author of How Long, O Lord, How Long? Devotions for the Unemployed and Those Who Love Them. He has experienced a personal journey of unemployment twice when both positions were eliminated in organizational restructuring. These personal experiences created a desire within him to help others impacted by unemployment through inspirational devotions. Dale is also an active volunteer at his home church and leader in his local community.