I was reading this morning in Soul Keeping (John Ortberg) about the difference between busyness and hurriedness. He described the difference as one is external (busyness) and the other is internal (hurriedness).
How true that is. All of us have lives that are busy. It is almost unavoidable in today’s western culture. We cannot escape all the things that are required of us to function in this way of life. Even if we decided that we wanted to be a hermit, there is still the need to procure food to feed ourselves, the resultant work that is required at some level, and the personal care for our physical, emotional and spiritual circumstances. But the moment we step into marriage, family, community and a robust work life, we complicate our daily existence and multiply our busyness.
But, as Ortberg writes, hurriedness is a product of our mindset or the condition of our soul. It is an internal pace that we have control over.
Either we allow it to rule us, or we intentionally manage it.
At this moment I am not busy. I have an abundance of time available. But internally I have a feeling of drivenness, or hurry if you will. What it does to me is to steal away the present, to be fully “in the moment”.
As I write I find myself being distracted. I get up and walk around although there is nothing that requires my attention. It is not a pressure from the outside in, but rather from the inside out. A couple of little yellow birds catch my eye – I get up and throw some bread crumbs to them. I am present for a few seconds, and then I focus elsewhere.
How do I control this internal pressure? I must cultivate it intentionally – practice it by taking my thoughts captive. 2 Cor. 10:5 says making them obedient to Christ. Obedient in what way? Perhaps it implies obedience to rest, to pursue peace, to be available to God and to others.
In counseling we often talk about changing our thoughts, our inner conversations. All of our outward behaviors begin with our inner thoughts. My reactivity in relationships begins with my inner conversations. When that inner dialog is not hurried, I have time to process and make good decisions. But when my anxious mind tells me that I must make a quick decision, I can really blow it. It has nothing to do with being busy, but everything to do with the state of my soul.
The apostle Paul was probably plenty busy warding off trouble and being involved with the business of evangelism. But I suspect he was in control of his inner life. Otherwise he couldn’t have written the following:
2 Cor. 4:8-9 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.
I think there is a message in there for us as well.