We’ve got it all backwards.
And I’m just realizing it at the ripe age of 39.
In January, I decided to plan 40 adventures I would complete in the year I turn 40. One of them was deleting one word permanently from my vocabulary. Of course, my first thought was that it would be a word that would promote negative thinking – a word that would keep me from choosing joy.
For the last few months, I’ve been thinking about what that word might be.
In the meantime, I’ve been functioning at an overwhelming pace – running the race (albeit with joy) at a mind numbing speed. I am constantly running from place A to place B, filling every spare minute with the fullness of life.
In almost every conversation I have with fellow moms, teachers and friends, there is one constant:
Everyone is busy.
When we ask one another, “How are you?” we don’t respond…EVER…by saying, “I am so relaxed! I am enjoying life, getting rest, and there is absolutely NO STRESS!”
And why is that?
Because we determine our worth and value by our “busy.”
Many of my conversations consist of unintentional competition. Who is busier? Who has more commitments? Who is the most tired? Who is crazy exhausted?
And if you don’t have a laundry list of “busy-ness,” you don’t have a hierarchy of worth to compare to other moms and friends who are also filling their conversations with just how crazy busy they are.
Now, I am someone who enjoys filling my life with projects and creative adventures. I’m always starting something new and I love the opportunities life has to offer.
And right now, I’m not talking about BEING busy.
I’m referring to TALKING about being busy.
I’ve been privy to countless conversations in which my friends say, “I know you’re super busy,” or “Your schedule is crazier than mine so…” or “I know you probably don’t have time.”
And although that might be true, how did they figure that out?
By my speech.
By the fact that I constantly spurt out my busy schedule in an effort to attribute worth to the hours in my day, to the things that I do, to the tremendous importance my life has.
When I became aware of this, I was strongly convicted as to the high value I placed on my ability to “beat out” the competition when it came to just how busy I was.
After all…I’m a teacher, a mom, a wife, a pastor’s wife, an author, a worship leader, a blogger…
See? There it goes! How many times do we do that? Name our hats? List our woes, complain about our responsibilities?
When we chose EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.
In the United States we pile up our conversations like trophies on a shelf. We win those conversation trophies when we can out busy our neighbors, out work our co-workers, out taxi the other parents, and out sport other families (because our kids are busier than your kids).
So I started gluing my mouth shut, vowing not to talk about my crazy life.
And it was hard.
Because although I knew I was busy, I couldn’t say anything. I had to listen to everyone talk about how busy they were and I couldn’t volley with them anymore. It was extremely difficult to hold my tongue. I also couldn’t use typical American greeting procedures (when responding to “How are you?” we tell the requester just how packed full our weeks have been).
My second vow was NOT to use the excuse that I was too busy when I didn’t fulfill an obligation – or when I had to say no.
Try that for a day.
Instead of just admitting we messed up or saying no because it needs to be said, we like to use our burden of busy as an excuse.
When did we learn to scale our value according to our accomplishments? And then, in turn, pile up our accomplishments and push them into the “not enough hours in the day” diatribe?
When did we stop realizing that our stress rests entirely on our own choices and that we have every ability to say no?
Why do we spend significant time expounding on our list of “I dids” instead of investing in the lives of others and listening to their true hearts?
So I’ve made my decision.
What I choose to do and how busy I am is not the issue (right now).
What I choose to talk about IS the issue.
And I am permanently deleting the word “BUSY” from my vocabulary. Because even if I am busy, my talking about it rarely lifts up others and makes them feel important.
Usually it makes them feel like an inconvenience, like their lives are not worth my time, or that they are just not as valuable as my list. When I talk about how busy I am they feel sorry for me and don’t want to bother me with their deepest heart feelings. Or they inwardly roll their eyes and think about how busy they are in comparison to me.
And if I’m living my life as if each day held the possibility of being my last day, I wouldn’t want to spend even a little of it stringing my busy laundry out to dry for the world to see.
I would actually want to live, grasping each moment as beautiful, holding on to each interaction as if it could be my last.
So, I guess blogging about this change in my vocabulary is one of the most blatant ways to be held accountable, but that’s okay. This is a pretty big deal – because no matter how many years are left in my life, this is the very last time I will use this word.
I’m sure that string wouldn’t even touch how many more times I would use that word in the next 30 some years. But it’s quite enough for me.
And you are certainly welcome to join me.
Let’s have conversations that aren’t unintentionally competitive. Let’s breathe deep and live moment by moment, day by day, enjoying life, gleaning the best versions of every situation – even in the midst of (that word).
No one really wants to be so…(that word).
So let’s not fill our words with it.
I hope you enjoyed my blog post!
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Please feel free to comment below – I love hearing from my readers about their own challenges. What word would you permanently delete from YOUR vocabulary? Take the challenge!