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May 6, 2015

Relinquishing the Badge of Busy-ness

TN--Rebecca Townsend“Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with yourself.”

I heard it over and over as I entered consciousness from a restless night of sleep.

The sun was beginning to show itself after it’s own evening of re-charging, and it was becoming brighter and fuller.

I was not mimicking such energy in my own awakening. My eyelids felt like 10-pound sandbags trying to be lifted by a mere pinky finger. Gravity was winning. And I was losing.

“But, be gentle with yourself,” I heard the small voice within cry out for its own attention.

Why do I keep hearing the same thing? Could it be that I am not listening? That I am moving too quickly…saying “yes” when I should be saying “no”?

How do I change the automated response of “yes” to the perceived selfish reply of “no”?

I have spent my life trying to earn the honorable badge of busyness. In my community and in my childhood home, there was a distinguished identity associated with having a full plate of responsibilities.

From a young age, I began to correlate busy with worthy. I viewed someone who was “on the go” as important and valuable.

I created a script — a story in my head — based on the belief that in order to be a person of influence and prominence, I had to say “yes” to everyone and every opportunity. I had to be of service to others whenever I was asked, and it is selfish to say “no” to someone. It is selfish to not care for others when you have been taken care of so well.

This story line runs deep. I realize part of this story is generational. Perhaps I am merely mimicking what I watched my sweet mother do so often and so well: serve others. (How could she not have with the name of Mary Martha?)

In her service of others, I watched my mom stay up late making good on promises of baked goods for a church gathering. I saw her up before the sun to prepare us for school, plan dinner, and finish laundry. I saw her live with no boundaries around her own time and our family time. My mom ran on empty so often.

And here I sit. I have justified my hectic and active calendar for the last several years because I have finally found my sweet-spot in life. I love my life — I love my family — I love my work.

BUT — here’s my conundrum: How do I remove this Badge of Busy-ness that has implied such honor? I have worked diligently to earn this, and now I should just rip it off? Tear off my soul’s work?

The truth is being un-busy scares me. All those teenage fears re-surface: Will they still like me if I say no? What will people think if I’m resting rather than helping?


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