The Glorification of “Busy”

We glorify busy - in our physical, spiritual, emotional and psychological - lives. Why do we do it, how can we stop it and how can it transform us?“Man, you must be busy.”

This almost always follows the comment when I tell folks how many kids I have.

Six, in case you’re wondering. I have six kids.

While my answers have changed over time, I’m really starting to hate that question because of one simple thing: as a society, we have glorified “busy” and it makes me nuts.

Let’s be honest, y’all. We are ALL busy. We all have to eat which involves shopping, cooking, making and cleaning up breakfast/lunch/dinner. We all wear clothes which involves buying, saving, cleaning, folding and hanging up said garments. We all have a home somewhere which involves repairing, renting, paying, decorating and loving our humble abodes. We all feed our minds which involves working, studying, testing, reading and using our brains. We all move ourselves from one place to another which involves driving, waiting and attending to our mode of transportation. We all have friends and family who love us which involves tending, nurturing and lifting up those we adore. And, we all tend to our physical bodies which involves exercising, rehabilitating, medicating or working the temple which God has given us.

In short: if you’re alive, you’re busy doing something.

We have made busy our crutch, our excuse, our trophy, our barometer of success, our social media status and our sole reason for existing. Too many times, we get sucked into the machine. We say ‘yes’ too many times and we find ourselves drowning in to-do lists and carpool, meetings and obligations. Some of them are worthy and some of them just serve our egos.

Let’s be honest.

We’ve stopped doing the one most important thing: discernment. We’ve quit asking ourselves if this activity, this thing, this event, this commitment, will lead us closer to Christ or closer to our worship of self. Ouch. Those are hard questions, people.

The beauty of having six kids is that I can no longer sweep the hard questions of life under the proverbial rug. If I say yes to everything, I might as well lie down right now and let the world trample all over me. I’ll have nothing left to give. Maybe you don’t have six kids so your AHA! moment came in a critical health diagnosis, a spiritual awareness, the death of someone you love, a desire to slow life down or just better senses than I had ten years ago.

Stop telling other people you’re busy (newsflash, we all are) and be honest. Are you busy enough or are you too busy? Because if you’re too busy, then get off the train. Last I checked – and I have scoured the internet for it – there is no award for the busiest person alive.

There are seasons of our life that have been too busy, usually right after we have a baby. Sleep deprivation will do that to a person. But we’ve quickly reassessed because the call of sleep was so strong and we bowed out of things left and right. And that felt good. I’m not advocating you strip your life down to nothing (but if you do, no shame!). Rather, I’m encouraging you to ask yourself why you’re doing something. If your answer has any of the following – peer pressure, a desire to stay ahead, fear of failure, forced obligation, guilt, fear no one else will do it, etc. – then you might want to put that one to prayer and get real with those answers. I did it this week and bam, was I humbled.

A few months ago, I was chatting with a mom about select sports. We’d been approached by a coach and while we were flattered, we were pretty adamant that it wasn’t for our family. The expense and time away alone were deal breakers for us even though this kid is a talented athlete. She said something to me that my brain has on repeat: “I wish we had followed our instincts back then. If I could do it all over again, I would’ve chosen time together as a family than spending our efforts and our finances on something we eventually gave up.” I’m not demonizing athletics at all. Her comment was really directed at intention. They said yes to something that tore away at the nucleus of their family.

How many things are tearing away at yours?

We’re not a perfect family and only a marginally cool one, at that. But we are an honest one. Oh man, are we honest. The decisions around here aren’t always popular but we always strive to be intentional. I am begging you to have the same aspirations for your family.

At the end of the day, are you busy enough loving your family or are you too busy to even notice they exist?


  1. Gee Dodds on January 17, 2017 at 3:28 am

    You are mature beyond your years – well done!

  2. Lisa on January 17, 2017 at 6:42 am

    I couldn’t agree more.

  3. Nadine on January 17, 2017 at 6:49 am

    I just had this exact discussion with my husband last week. I am not alone!

  4. Sarah J on January 17, 2017 at 7:14 am

    Years ago, as a SAHM, I had 4 very smart, talented in all sorts of things, and very athletic kids in my house. The Daddy was active duty Navy. There were so many things that money and time prevented me from allowing the kids to do. I don’t think any of them suffered from my trying to keep us from being too busy.

  5. Mary @ Better Than Eden on January 17, 2017 at 8:28 am

    Yes to all of this. Constant reevaluation is necessary and striving to let activities serve the family not the other way around.

  6. Julia Harrell on January 17, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Thank you so much for this wisdom! I struggle with learning to stop saying “yes” to all.the.things. Running around like a lunatic is rarely rewarding, I long for a completely checked off to-do list (I do realize that’s never happening), and yet I keep adding nonessential things to the list.

    • Kathryn on January 17, 2017 at 11:05 pm

      Ah, the checked off list. My husband keeps reminding me that when I die, the inbox will still be full. HA!

  7. Jenny on January 17, 2017 at 8:55 am

    This is so fantastic! This year my word has been “simplify” because I found myself last year really struggling with the “busy.” We too had a son in select sports for about a year and a half and after stepping away man did I see the tole it took on our family. I couldn’t see it in the moment though. Now we are back planning baseball at our town rec center and life is so much happier for everyone…especially our athlete. We really had no idea the stress he felt playing at that level.
    One question I have for you though is how do you balance volunteering or helping out friends? I find that much of my busyiness comes from always volunteering to help out our school, church or a friend that needs help. I feel a pull that I need to help others, yet at times it just seems like too much and I’m not sure where to cut back. I especially struggle with this when it comes to my kids school. I always say yes when asked to do things…I’ve joked I need someone standing next to me who will say no for me 😉 I just feel guilt if I say no. Weird right? A priest once told me in confession that the closer we become to God the less guilt we feel. I found that hilarious being a cradle Catholic and feeling guilt about everything my entire life. He was/is a convert and it really opened my eyes to my relationships in general but mostly with God. However, the guilt it still there…

    Sorry for the book (insert covering eyes emoji)

    • Kathryn on January 17, 2017 at 11:03 pm

      Um, by getting in too deep. {covers face} I think we all go in with good intentions but the only way you learn how much you can do is by committing yourself to more. At least, that’s how I learn. Kinda like exercising. You figure out what muscles you need to work on and go easy on the next time you work out. Every work out gets a little easier because you learn how your body works. For me, I’ve always asked myself, “If it’s 3am and I’m still working on this volunteer project will I be glad I said yes? Or, will I wish I’d said no?” I felt extreme guilt for giving up a project earlier last week, like I was really letting some people down. But, at 3am I found myself wishing I had stepped back earlier instead of being happy I’d said yes. Once something stops being a labor of love and is just labor, it’s time to give it up. There will always be a season to give, you just have to figure out how much.

  8. Amy Reitmeyer on January 17, 2017 at 10:51 am

    Totally agree on discerning – will put in a positive plug for select sports however. If you go into it with the right attitude, it can actually be a huge positive. Select sports has never been our pathway to free college. It’s been a way for our children to do something that’s physically challenging and to learn a lot of great life lessons that you can only learn being part of a diverse team. For us, with 5 kids, one on one time is limited and those weekend tournaments in a car driving alone with just one kid and one parent are some of the best times we’ve ever had. Just to spend a lot of quality time with one child and to get to really appreciate them for who they are as a person is priceless. My husband and I have always alternated who goes with whom and when we talk with our older kids now about their time in select sports, it’s not about the games or the team, it’s about the time we had together.

    • Kathryn on January 17, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      That reiterates my point so well, Amy. Moving forward with intention. Sounds like you’ve found your balance!

  9. Kaity on January 17, 2017 at 11:03 am

    Couldn’t agree more! My recent slow down moment was when I decided to stay home full time with my 1 yr old daughter. At first I felt myself resisting the slow pace of toddler life and trying to find a part time job or volunteer commitment that would make me more than just a SAHM. Then as my 2nd pregnancy progressed I realized what a blessing it was to just focus on my family and my health during this season of life. It has been humbling and has come with moments where I’ve felt judged by some peers but ultimately I feel at peace spiritually with this decision.

  10. Scott Whitaker on January 17, 2017 at 1:02 pm

    I believe Red said this on Shawshank Redemption. Get busy living or get busy dying.

  11. Nicole on January 17, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    So much to think about with this post. Thank you for the food for thought.

  12. Laura on January 17, 2017 at 8:20 pm

    You once wrote a blog post on asking yourself one important question..
    Something along these words ‘is this decision helping us build our family or is it destroying the peace we wish to foster’ I actually typed that one up and have had it hanging on our bedroom wall ever since. This current post elaborates and ties in wonderfully, giving me much more reflection on those words I read daily.
    Thank you!! God is helping you share your lived experience and wisdom.

    • Kathryn on January 17, 2017 at 10:59 pm

      I love that and I love that you shared it with me! Made my day.

  13. Kristen on January 19, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    Beautifully written. Be intentional AND Be a peaceful family . . . keep that time sacred. So good. Thank you!

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