Sanctified Busyness

Often, we make our lives busy as a way of hiding from ourselves. When our plate is empty, we have time to think. That can be liberating, or it can be terrifying.

The Face in the Mirror

When nothing stands between you and YOU, every shortcoming, every insecurity, comes rushing to center stage. You’re able to see the gaps between where you are and where you wish you were.

You realize you’re sitting in engineering class even though your heart dreams of being a musician.

You realize as a single parent that you never got the chance to backpack through Europe.

“Good leaders never embrace a victim mentality. They recognize that who and where they are remain their responsibility – not that of their parents, their spouses, their children, the government, their bosses, or their coworkers.” John Maxwell

It Is Your Fault

Even more terrifying is the realization that we have no one to blame but ourselves. Much easier to fill our day with good (but not the best) things to do. Rush from one task to another, dreaming of a day when we are less stressed while simultaneously taking on additional responsibilities so that we never actually have to face ourselves.

Power, Misused

With the acceptance of that responsibility comes immense power. If we are to blame, then the only true barrier to reaching that dream stands within ourselves. We see the gap, hate the feeling it brings, and plug it with the first ‘good opportunity’ we can get our hands on.

This is the worst kind of hiding. We experience the emotional ‘win’ of progress, but not towards our actual goal. The cumulative effect is that we feel our dreams can never be reached: we’re working so hard and gaining no ground! In reality, we are working diligently – on the wrong things!

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. We ask ourselves, ‘who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and famous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in all of us. And when we let our own light shine we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” – Marianne Williamson

Be brave. Don’t use busyness as a way to hide from your greatness.

How to gain clarity

  • Make a list of everything that you “had” to do this week.
  • Next to each item, write down the consequences of not completing that item.
  • Now ask yourself if those are the true consequences – we often over-inflate consequences to scare ourselves into completing tasks.
  • Cross off any item whose consequences are something you could live with.
  • The remaining items represent the actual “have to’s.”

The tasks you crossed out are hiding places you used this week.

What does greatness look like to you? Leave a comment below. Maybe speaking that dream out loud in a public space will help you to realize the truth: you CAN reach it. 

4 Replies to “Sanctified Busyness”

  1. Greatness to me comes from within, you have to want it, bottom line. Something that has stuck with me that I once heard my father say was, “The only person you’ll ever let down is yourself, your family will always love you no matter what happens in the long run. As long as you can look yourself in the mirror everyday and appreciate everything that guy has done for you then you’ll be fine. If something comes up that your very unhappy with, change it, your’e the only one that holds yourself back, so what do you want?”.

  2. This just gave me a lot to think about. I especially liked the Marianne Williamson quote.

    To me, greatness is sort of like beauty; in that each person should define it for themselves. In the past, I have been guilty of trying to compare myself to others and their achievements. It wasn’t until I only compared myself to my previous self, asking “Have I changed for the better? Have I progressed towards my own goals?” I found it to be extremely useful in tracking my progression towards those goals and left me feeling more satisfied with my progress when I wasn’t comparing it to someone who had the job or lifestyle I was working towards.

    Also, I think when you stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to your past self, you are not embracing that “victim mentality”, but instead are empowering yourself. When you aspire to have the serenity to accept the things you cannot change, courage to change the things you can, and wisdom to know the difference (should I cite this?), we stop worrying ourselves over busy work and get closer to manifesting our own destiny.

    Thank you for the insightful post.

  3. Dr. Ferrar,

    This post was very thought-provoking. What particularly stood out to me was the point you made about how we are all waiting for the day when we are not so busy, while we keeping adding on more responsibilities. The truth is, we are never not going to have something we should (or maybe “could” is the better word) be doing. This semester I keep telling myself, “when I graduate, I’ll do this thing, spend time with this person, go to this place”, etc, because I think I’ll have more time. I know that I really still have to continue to experience life while in school. This just requires improving my prioritizing skills (and yes, that means setting time aside where taking care of myself or fostering my relationships is the priority!).

  4. I really enjoyed the quote by John Maxwell, about not embracing a victim mentality and taking responsibility for the consequences which your own actions (or inaction) caused. I really see the ‘filling in the gaps’ with busy work happening in my life and this post has helped to motivate me to fix that.

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