By Julia Amting
So I’m at a point in the year where there’s just a whole lot of stuff going on. You could ask anyone from around here and they would definitely say that change is in the air. And it’s so bittersweet. A lot of my best friends, and the people that have filled the ins and outs of my days for the last few years will be moving on to their new and exciting lives, leaving behind them a place that will soon be very different.
I spend quite a bit of time watching Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows videos on youtube (sweet channel, check it out), a series that creates words for feelings that don’t have words to describe them. One of them was called dés vu, which is the awareness that a moment will soon become a memory. That time is going by too fast, and our desire to hold onto things as they’re happening, because we know that things will soon begin to change and we won’t ever be the person we are in this moment, feeling our lives in the way we are at this moment. The feeling that things are moving faster than we can keep up with them. And that is so so real for me right now.
So that’s the emotional state of Julia right now, maybe some of you can relate.
Another change in my life recently is the end of another school year, which usually means that my life switches from the busy-ness of intensive school work to the busy-ness of my various summer jobs. Last summer I broke my record and I worked 2 part time jobs at 25 hours a week each, a little bit much to handle. This is the cycle that has gone on for me since 8th grade.
But this summer is different. I have a part time nannying job for about a month, but other than that, it’s just scholarships, applications, and enjoying my summer for once in my life. (I promise I’ll stop talking about myself soon and get to the point of this post. Just bear with me.)
I’ve struggled a lot with this whole slowing down thing. Not having to rush all the time with a full schedule is something that is actually really really difficult for me. And I’ve been trying to figure out why that is. Why working is so often easier for me than resting. Why I take myself on a guilt trip when I spend 2 hours to nap or watch a movie or read a book or just relax.
What I’m learning about myself is that I put so much of my worth on what I do. I like talking about all of the things I have to do, all the places I have to go. I love talking about my busy-ness. I put my worth on my busy-ness.
Let me explain.
Our culture likes to emphasize results, and glorifies hurried and scattered lives. Our school system focuses on the idea of monetary success, of doing things. All the time. Most of us are taught from the time we are very young to pack our schedules with sports, music lessons, friendships, clubs, dance, volunteering, theatre, hobbies, and so on. And all these things are good things. All things that I love.
I love finishing things, I love accomplishing things, I love learning things.
But I subconsciously have gotten to a point where I have defined myself by my success in these things, or even more dangerously, my lack of success. I feel my interior self-worth level rise as I finish an essay, get a good grade, or finish a project. But it plummets when I find myself procrastinating or achieving less than the expected results. The problem is this self-worth battle, not the activities themselves.
Being busy means I have places to go, people to see, things to do. It means that I “have a life”. And since I have let my busy-ness, my accomplishments define me, I find myself talking to people about the things I have to do and the people I have to see merely to sound like I “have a life.”
When did doing the most and succeeding at it become the trophy that we have to acquire? When did we start wanting to sound cool by talking about how full our lives seem to be?
Because we crave full lives. We talk about our busy-ness because we want to act like our lives are fulfilling. We post filtered and staged pictures, with half-true captions to make it seem like our clothes are always cute, our friendships are alway harmonious and our faces never break out. We focus all of our energy on seeming and often forget about being. Our feeds and our words and our schedules scream a full life but in reality we feel empty. Having “a lot to do” has become a status symbol.
Because we define ourselves by our busy-ness. By what we do. By who we know. By where we go.
But that’s a problem because our worth comes from what we are. From being, not by seeming.
Christ did not die because of anything we did, on the contrary He died for us when we were sinners, when we had absolutely nothing to give. (Romans 5:8)
So if any of you are in the same boat I am, the boat of letting your schedule define you, remember to first be, and then seem, instead of the other way around. Have a strong relationship with the Lord, don’t just talk about it and think that verbalizing makes reality. Be a good person, don’t just talk about it. Fill your lives with good things, but don’t pull those good things out of thin air in conversation to make your life seem better than it is.
We also glorify busy because our nature hates vulnerability. I tend to hate to be honest with myself about where I’m at, where my life’s at. I create this fake life because I don’t want to reveal my humanity.
So today I challenge you to simply be. To be, to exist, in the presence of Jesus and know that you’re enough. That you were enough to die for, no matter what you’ve done or haven’t done. And just kind of rest in His Presence and recognize the sheer profoundness of that.
Be as you wish to seem.