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Grounded in the Now: Rising Above Busyness

I do not understand what
I do. For what I want to
do I do not do, but what
I hate I do.

(Romans 7:15)

When I ask friends, colleagues, loved ones, or strangers, “How are you?” most often I hear, “Busy.” Many of us have adopted busyness as a badge of honor, a sense of purpose, a central piece of who we are. But is it? I wonder if as a society we are addicted to busyness, using it to validate our worth to others — and to ourselves. Often busyness distracts us from living into who we are created to be, making it easy to lose focus.

What’s keeping us so busy? For me it’s the endless checking of emails and mindless use of technology that fills up the hours. Recently, I began to feel anxious when my phone wasn’t with me. Pausing to uncover what was behind this discomfort, it dawned on me that the phone served as an avoidance technique. Gerald May, in “Addiction and Grace” writes, “Addiction uses up desire … sucking our life energy into specific obsession and compulsion, leaving less and less energy available for other people and pursuits. Addiction, then, displaces and supplants God’s love as the source and object of our deepest true desire.” Though perhaps not an addiction, I realized my phone was masking what I really needed to address, robbing me of the ability to be present and connect with myself, God, and others.

When we take a moment to examine the activities that seem to steal our time away, we can uncover the parts of ourselves we’ve been trying to hide. With intentional reflection, we can remove the walls we’ve built to keep us from being our true selves and connecting with God.

As spiritual leaders, we are called to support God’s people in discovering who they are, to support their inner faith walk — that is our true vocation. Nurturing our own relationship with God is central to our being present with one another and being whole ourselves. Prayer and contemplative practices can serve as a way for us to change our operating system and truly be present. St. Teresa of Ávila says: “Authentic prayer changes us — unmasks us, strips us, indicates where growth is needed. Authentic prayer never leads us to complacency but needles us, makes us uneasy at times. It leads us to true self-knowledge, to true humility.”

I invite you to consider the sources of busyness in your life. Are they helping you live into your God-given purpose? Make the sign of the cross on your forehead, remember you are forgiven, and turn to God for strength to live with focus and intention.


Deacon Tammy L. Devine

Tammy shares her passion for health, healing, and wholeness through consulting, coaching, and retreat facilitation. As an ELCA deacon, registered nurse, parish nurse/coordinator, and ICF certified coach, she collaborates with thought leaders to facilitate personal and communal growth toward living and leading well. Contact her to learn more.

busy, distracted man

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