This post was originally published at A Deeper Story. There's something terrifying about admitting this, even though I know this season of life is right where I'm meant to be. Even if it makes me uncomfortable at times. Head on over to read the rest.
(And in case you missed Nish's announcement Friday, be sure to read her post. Writing for Deeper Story has been one of the greatest honors and I'm sad to see it go. But I'm unspeakably proud of my friend for making this hard decision.)
I'm not busy.
There. I said it. I'm fighting the urge to feel ashamed of my present circumstances.
I'm not sure when it happened but you're more likely to hear "busy" than "fine" when you ask someone how they've been. We're all busy, busy, busy.
I lived this way for most of my 20s. I would describe what I had going on for the weekend and people would look at me goggle-eyed, while I protested, "it's not that much." Secretly I was pleased by how much I did and saw. I worked full-time, served at church, planned get togethers, hosted dinners, and always added "one more thing" in to the mix.
Underneath the surface, however, I was terrified to not have any plans.
I associated not having plans with being a loser and those insecurities were ever ready to present themselves should I have met a plan-free Saturday night.
After my Grandma died in 2007, I pushed the metaphorical reset button. I couldn’t escape my grief and in the process of mourning, I finally let myself off the “busy” hook.
I’ve been balancing my introversion with my deep love of an active social life ever since. And for the most part, it’s worked. I say yes to only the things I want to say yes to. I’m well-versed in saying no to everything else.
A few months ago, my work situation changed. I have five different part-time jobs and every week looks different, depending on what my bosses or clients need. It’s a lot of balls in the air and yet I’ve found myself with extra hours to fill.
It’s not something I bragged about. That old insecurity lingered. A lack of plans still equaled “loser” in my mind. Plus, there’s financial stress and a feeling I should be doing more.
I’m not good at pretending to be something I’m not and the truth is I’m not busy. The other truth is there’s nothing wrong with that. I’m not going to apologize for these extra hours and I’m not going to waste them either.
All of these part-time jobs are hopefully helping me work toward my goals. While I’d like to figure out a more sustainable plan that will help me get there, I’m trying to be faithful to where I am now.
To that end, I’m praying I’ll be open to how God will fill my extra hours.
One week I took my laptop over to a friend’s house to lend my presence. She had been having a rough time and just needed a friendly face in the mornings. I worked in the corner while she went about her routine. We didn’t talk too much but I was there if her anxiety gave way or she needed a quick hand with something.
Every time I left her house, I thanked God I could be there for her in such a tangible way. It primed me to be more aware of what I’ve dubbed “the ministry of availability.”
A couple of my jobs are work-from-home and the hours are flexible. On these days, I look for opportunities to say yes to my friends. Work is still the priority but I can make time for an airport run or to rescue a friend whose car has left them stranded. I can make a meal for someone who is sick or fill in as a last minute babysitter. I can meet up for coffee and have a good heart to heart, which is one of my favorite things to do anyway.
On the days I’m in an office and less physically available, I’ll pray for my loved ones during my commute. One day I brainstormed marketing ideas for a friend’s book release. Another day I wrote a few notes of encouragement during my lunch break.
Often in our everyday routines, we forget to look for ways to be there for others. Sometimes this is because we’re walking a hard road ourselves and we truly need to stay in our own lane- and perhaps have others come alongside us. But sometimes we’re distracted and we half listen to and half see the people we love.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone.
When my work settles down in to a more respectable 9 to 5, I will have to work harder at being available and seeing through what people say, compared to what they need.
For now though, the offer is on the table. My friends may not choose to use me or they may need me on a day when I’m actually not free. So far this hasn’t happened. It’s made me grateful for this unpredictable season. Though I’m ready for more financial certainty, I’m not ready to let go of this perspective.
I am not busy. I am available. My eyes are open. May I be the hands and feet of Christ to those in need.