When Busy Becomes Too Busy: The Essential Business of Staying Connected to Your Heart
A few weeks ago, as I was talking with one of my mentors, my answer to a question she asked me left me in pain.
Her question wasn’t new or profound, but my response shocked me.
“Where is your heart in this season?” she asked.
Now, as a “well-trained” pastor’s kid, I immediately opened my mouth to respond with one of the five answers that I typically have ready in my “right-answer” arsenal.
But my heart felt pain because the pat answer wasn’t satisfying. I blurted out the only honest response I could give in that moment: “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” she asked.
As she probed further, I began to discover why I gave that answer.
I had gotten too busy.
I honestly didn’t know what my heart was feeling because I hadn’t taken the time to stop and figure it out. My reasons are probably a lot like yours: busyness with work, school, relationships, pursuing dreams, figuring out finances, spending time and emotional energy putting out fires, and on and on. Charles Hummel appropriately called it “the tyranny of the urgent.”
I knew I had gotten off track and needed to make a change.
I thought about the character trait that had gotten me to this place of excessive busyness. I am a builder. I mean, I love building. Give me an idea and I immediately start thinking about the 10 steps it will take to build it and the structure it will take to sustain it. So while I wanted to celebrate this strength, I also realized (yet again) that it comes with a challenge. My vision, energy, and passion to create needed to be reigned in and given boundaries in which to operate.
Something had to go, or at least be moved to the back burner.
So I began to ask myself, What are my negotiables and non-negotiables?
Some of your non-negotiables (things you are committed to no matter what) are probably like mine: your spiritual life, family, and work. However, one item I didn’t have as a priority in my life was “me” time. Time for Justin to just sit and figure out what he is even thinking or feeling in that moment.Run and you will win the race, sprint for too long and you will burn out. Click To Tweet
I talked to a leader in the body of Christ recently who told me that he takes two to three hours a day for “me” time. This is time when he has no scheduled tasks to complete, not necessarily even reading his Bible or doing “spiritual things,” but just being. Thinking. Going out into the woods to walk, staring at a mountain, journaling.
This was missing in my life.
I think the challenge for many of us is giving ourselves permission to take this time for ourselves. It sounds extravagant, like a luxury we can’t afford when there is so much to be done. But I’m learning that it’s actually essential to being healthy, balanced, and grounded. No matter how much I’m accomplishing and how many projects I’m checking off my to-do list, without time to navigate through the traffic in my mind, wade through my emotions, and process my thoughts, I am going to be missing out on the peace and satisfaction that come from being connected to my own heart.
I am so grateful to my mentor for asking this question and realizing again the importance of taking the time to pause, to dwell, and to feel. I want to learn how to withdraw from the burden of busyness and tune my ear to the whispers of my heart, mind, and emotions so that the next time someone asks, “Where’s your heart?” I will have a response that is both informed and genuine.
I would love to hear from you. Are you intentional about taking time for yourself? What do you do and how does it help you?
Huge thanks to my friend Jordan Vanderplate for letting me use this photo of Sequoia National Park. Check out more of his work here.