You know how people are always asking you “what’s new” or “how’s life”? I always feel like they are expecting some impressive response. Many of us concoct something that sounds like we are accomplishing impressive things or reply with the classic, “Oh, I’ve been so busy!”. Why do we feel like we need to prove ourselves to impress them? What is it in us that we think we need to measure up to some invisible and ever unattainable standard of accomplishment.
I think we as a culture are guilty of over busying ourselves. We pack so many things into our schedules that we are lucky if we get a night at home as a whole family. When spending time on and with our nearest and dearest should be the most important thing to “busy” ourselves with.
We shouldn’t feel obligated to do everything and attend everything that people ask us to. Especially not when it repeatedly encroaches upon time spent with those most important to us. Why don’t we prioritize those times? Schedule them out and put them in our calendars? That way when people ask us to something, we can truly say, “I’m so sorry, I’m already booked! I have something else that time.”.
My husband Mark always laughs at this analogy, but I imagine myself as a stick of butter, and events I’m asked to, family time with loved ones, acquaintances, close friends, and any other relational thing that would take up time as slices of slices of bread. This stick of butter I am can only go so far, can only butter so many slices of bread. Loved ones and close friends don’t deserve me spreading myself so thin that all they get is a little dry scrape of butter on their nicely toasted surface. They deserve a thick spread of my buttery time and affection. But how can I give them that if I’m spreading myself too thin?
I read recently that humans can only truly handle and invest in twelve deep relationships. So Mark and I have been making a list of our twelve, and are in the process of making them a priority and scheduling out time (butter!) with them.
We don’t have kids yet, and as an outgoing introvert, I’m already naturally inclined towards spending quality time with those who matter most to me. When I do have children, I want them to grow up having too many family times to count. I want my daughter’s to remember dates with their father. I want my sons to remember a mom who took the time to play legos with them. I want to look back and see the close friendships that built me up and encouraged me, and had roots that ran deep and weathered the test of time.
But regardless, I still find myself getting caught up in doing too much sometimes. I still find myself getting caught up in wanting to give an impressive response when people ask, “what’s new”. It takes time and confidence to be able to tell someone, “nothing”. To stop yourself from trying to say all the coolest and most illustrious things that your schedule has been filled with. It takes time to learn to slow down, and go against the cultural norm of rushing and busyness.
This upcoming holiday season, and this next year, I encourage you to slow down. To say no to doing everything (it’s okay, you don’t have to go to every single Christmas party). To make a list of twelve people that you truly want to build deep and meaningful relationship with (even Jesus had His twelve). To stop spreading yourself too thin, and start buttering that toast that means the most to you.