"I am busy." I hear this daily. In fact, I don't remember many days of interacting with others in the last few years that I haven't heard it. It seems to me, in our modern day, being "busy" has become a badge of honor. A badge that many of us are more than happy to wear because it allows us to say "no" to entering into a deeper relationship with God or others. When we become to busy to enter into a relationship with others, then something is wrong without priorities. This is a reflection of how modern society has entered into many faithful Catholics' lives and we need to guard against it.
An example of a typical conversation tells the story:
ME – How are you?
Joe - Busy.
ME – Everything okay?
Joe – Just too much to do.
At this point in the conversation, I feel I am taking precious time from the other person merely by inquiring into how they he is doing and trying to be polite. My desire to continue in the conversation quickly starts to fade, when I can see the other person not wanting to talk about anything but the source of his woe – busyness.
Yes, in modern society we have a lot of things that pull us in different directions. But, the human in front of us is more important than those. We quickly forget that this person, who we think of as taking our time, is how we encounter God in daily life – as Christ tells us "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." (Matt 25:40).
Nevertheless, how does this work in our daily lives? It is the same way it has been done since the beginning of time – we must prioritize God and those individuals within our midst, starting with those closest to us. When we say we are too busy for others, it hurts us as well as the other person. We need the "other" in our lives to have our lives rightly ordered and the same is true for them. Even more so, we all need God.
I work with a generation of college students that constantly feels the burdens which th feeling of busyness lays on them. I constantly attempt to get across the message that life doesn't slow down after school and they need to get their priorities rightly ordered presently in order to do well in the future. Most will be married and St. Paul tells us in 1 Cor. 7:32-33 that life doesn't get any easier once you are married. In fact, once you are married and have children, it becomes even more difficult to manage time and be present to God and others. This message, of course, isn't just for my students to hear, but all of us who struggle with managing our priorities and time.
With all of this in mind, let us remind ourselves:
-Work should not be first (I am not saying to quit).
-School should not be first (I am not saying to skip class or not to study hard).
-Family, spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, and friends should not be first (I am not saying to end a relationship).
-EVEN CHURCH GROUPS can't be first (I am definitely not saying to skip Mass).
-Jesus Christ and a relationship with Him must be first.
Once our priorities are rightly ordered, we can then begin to once again see the vast dignity and importance of the "other" God has put in our lives. Once this happens time stops when they are in front of us and our busyness becomes less valued than people. In order to properly order our lives and therefore make God and the "other" a priority, I offer these questions for each of us to reflect upon:
1 – What do I need to do in order to have a better relationship with God?
2 – What time do I need to devote to God?
3 – What are some concrete ways I can prioritize God and then others?
4 – How can I not be too "busy" for the most important things in life?
A few suggestions:
Schedule prayer if necessary. Set aside the time if you find yourself skipping it too often.
Be prudent in how you spend your time. Find those areas where time is not well-spent and start to redefine that time.
Make relationships a priority. 1-God. 2-Family. 3-Other People. 4-Everything else.
Don't neglect your obligations when you start to re-prioritize.
I have tried valiantly to take the "I am busy" mantra out of my vocabulary by implementing these suggestions into my own life, to varying degrees of success. I hope that we may all lose the phrase "I am busy" in order to see the only thing of true value in our lives is the eternal soul asking for the precious time from us.