I am currently in a Bible study called, Breaking Free (Bible Study Book): The Journey, The Stories written by the amazing Beth Moore. It has been a powerful study and I’ve learned a lot. However, one of Beth’s phrases that impacted me the most was “the captivity of activity.” I read an article a few months ago that said that people today report the lowest rates of boredom in history and the highest levels of creativity. I remember thinking that was so neat. Smartphones, TV, access to Pinterest mean we have so many outlets that show us how to do more: more crafts, more recipes, more learning, more opportunities.
And yet, although many of my friends (including myself) are doing more – more homeschooling, more side jobs (like photograph, selling jewelry, etc.), more craft bazaars – there is an abundance of articles online showing how worn out and stressed we are as moms and as a culture. I recently presented on anxiety and stress for teens, and research shows that although teens are extremely busy with school, extracurricular activities and social media, they are also exhibiting the highest levels of stress and a rapidly increasing rate of anxiety disorders.
So even though we are doing more, the trade-off is we are exhausted and anxious. We are on a hamster wheel that is never ending and wears us out. There are nights when I lay in bed, after a long day of work, and instead of praying or reading God’s Word, I’m jotting down ideas about articles to write or people to talk to in my day planner. I fall asleep, then wake up exhausted and ready to start all over again.
Can any of you relate? Do you find yourself running around, doing more, but feeling anxious or exhausted at the end of each day instead of satisfied?
I feel like this endless cycle of do more, make more, and be more is a dangerous trap. I was at a conference and the speaker said that the word busy can be short for: Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke. At first, I was a little taken aback. The prideful part of me thought, busyness is good! It often makes me feel productive, like I can do it all. I can work, cook, craft, clean and be a good mom/spouse/Christian.
But recently, especially with the holidays coming up, I find myself wondering if I can do it all. Because honestly, falling into bed at the end of a long day, unable to spend time with my spouse or God leaves me feeling drained and empty. That temporary feeling of productivity and invincibility fades, and I just feel…empty.
The Bible mentions multiple incidents where Jesus took a break to rest and pray (Mark 1:35, Mark 6:31, Luke 5:16). At one point, the disciples were busy teaching and putting the body of John the Baptist in a tomb (how draining that must have been emotionally!). They came back to Jesus and “told him all that they had done and taught” (Mark 6:30, ESV). I love that Jesus didn’t simply say, “Good job! Let’s preach more to more people!” like an overly enthusiastic coach. Instead, Mark 6:31 tells us, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”
Jesus encouraged the disciples to rest before starting the next task. As we go through the craziness of the holidays in the next few weeks, please rest. And by resting, I don’t mean laying on the couch, playing on your phone and jotting down your to-do list. I mean, actually rest in Him.
Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV). Retreat into a quiet part of your house, or if that doesn’t exist, find a quiet coffee shop or sit in your car. Focus on God, his peace and rest in Him. Not in your to-do lists, Pinterest or social media. Read His Word, pour out your heart, and find peace.
I hope that you all enjoyed Thanksgiving and time with your family. But as we go through the holidays, please remember to rest. Do not let activity and busyness take you captive and prevent you from enjoying your everyday life. I promise I will set aside my to-do lists and hope you will too!
I originally wrote this for Uniquely Yours Ministries and they have given me permission to reprint it on my blog as well!