I remember once hearing someone say that they feel so much satisfaction when they are busy. What is that about? Why do we tend to correlate busy with successful? I have a friend whom I adore dearly who is always busy, always tired, and always overdrawn. When I ask her about her busy life and her busy schedule, she almost glows with pride and says that she would rather be busy than bored. But does being still constitute being bored? Or are they perhaps two very different things?
Being still allows time for revelation, personal introspection, and eternal contemplation. Perhaps meaningful stillness doesn’t mean boredom at all, but a pathway to opening up the heavens and preparing to listen to and learn from the Almighty.
One of my all-time favorite talks was given by then-President Uchtdorf in October 2010, “Of Things That Matter Most.” he discusses the need to simplify space in our lives and focus on things that matter most. He says:
“Let’s be honest; it’s rather easy to be busy. We all can think up a list of tasks that will overwhelm our schedules. Some might even think that their self-worth depends on the length of their to-do list. They flood the open spaces in their time with lists of meetings and minutia—even during times of stress and fatigue. Because they unnecessarily complicate their lives, they often feel increased frustration, diminished joy, and too little sense of meaning in their lives…There comes a point where milestones can become millstones and ambitions, albatrosses around our necks.”
I have heard repeatedly that the one silver lining in this COVID-19 pandemic is the way life slowed down and taught us to remember things that matter most — things like time spent with family, games played at the kitchen table, dinners eaten together with loved ones, and time taken to just be. However, for many of us life is going back to normal and we are finding that it is harder to take the time to be still. We are back to work, back to school, back to callings, and back to being busy. So many of these things are good things, and it’s okay to feel satisfied at the end of the day for all the good things we have done and accomplished — but is there perhaps more?
One of my favorite Bible stories is that of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. I have always wondered which sister I most resemble. I have come to the conclusion that from time to time I resemble both. When I take the time to think of my Savior and what He would want me to learn, I am like Mary; when I want to be busy doing good things for my Savior, I am like Martha. Martha was doing good by serving the Savior. She was setting up the house and getting the food ready and cleaning done for Him. She wanted the Savior to see that she knew how to serve Him. Yet I once read a quote that said “The doing lacks power when we are not first being with Him.”
Martha’s inability to put away the busy things prevented her from just being with Jesus. Mary knew being with Jesus would be the most beneficial to her soul. She knew that she might not always be with Him and therefore needed to take the time to learn at His feet. Literally, Mary sat at his feet in an attitude of worship and adoration. She sat still and listened.
President Ucthdorf said, “My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”
I have often heard the adage, “If Satan can’t make you bad, he will make you busy.”
I don’t think this saying means that being busy means you are being bad, but being busy does make you distracted —and distraction is the exact kind of recipe Satan uses to fill our lives with meaningless tasks that separate our hearts from listening to the “still small voice.” As President Uchtdorf said,
“The humble Man of Galilee stands with hands outstretched, waiting. His is a simple message: “Come, follow me.”And He does not speak with a powerful megaphone but with a still, small voice. It is so easy for the basic gospel message to get lost amidst the deluge of information that hits us from all sides.”
We really are bombarded with information at our fingertips every minute of the day. There are Google searches to be made, recipes to be recalled, family gossip to be shared, friend’s vacations to be coveted, funny videos to be enjoyed, sappy commercials to be cried over, and so many more instantaneous distractions Satan uses to fill our days with monotonous nothings that will unfortunately not make us better disciples of Jesus Christ.
For those of us who are choosing to focus on busyness as Martha did, there is still time to change our focus. There is still room at the Master’s feet. No one need be perpetually ashamed at time spent wasting time — we have all done this. The difference is how we move forward knowing just how devious and persistent the enemy of our souls is. He wants us to forget things that matter most. He wants us to live in the world and of the world. He doesn’t want us to be still, being still opens the heavens and he is bound and determined that for each of us they remained closed.
“Let us be mindful of the foundational precepts our Heavenly Father has given to His children that will establish the basis of a rich and fruitful mortal life with promises of eternal happiness. …do “all these things … in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that [we] should run faster than [we have] strength. [But] it is expedient that [we] should be diligent, [and] thereby … win the prize.”
May we ever ask the Savior, “What lack I yet?” so that “the eyes of our understanding will be opened, and we will recognize what needs to be done to purify our heart and refocus our life.”
Don’t let busyness rob you of your joy! Be willing to give more than your leftover time to the Savior. Open up your life to receiving revelation and the motivation to become the person you are meant to become, and the Savior will welcome you with open arms into His kingdom at the last day — for you will have “chosen the better part.”
Janette Beverley is a lover of life, family, music, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy, and has five amazing children and one equally amazing husband. Janette is excited to be writing for LDS Blogs and sharing her love and passion for finding the miraculous among the mundane, the awe-inspiring among the obvious, and the uplifting among the underestimated. To read more of her work, you can visit Janette's personal blog here.