This week has been a week of dates and times. We finalized our schedule for all of our ResLife (the shorthand for Residence Life, or RA stuff) and learned about all of the Zeta Rho events in April. (Zeta Rho is the women’s social club I pledged in the fall. More on that another time.) I received all of my assignments for the next few weeks, including plenty of tests, papers, and reading. I’m planning a trip out of town and am scheduled for a multitude of dinner dates, staff meetings, fundraisers, tutoring sessions, and desk shifts. Quite frankly, I’ve been feeling a bit overwhelmed.
Instead of working on the mountain of homework I have piled up, I spent my time at work today creating a calendar on the month of April. I didn’t need it to organize my schedule, but to create a visual manifestation of the stress I thought I was justified in feeling. I stared at the calendar and cringed. Every day has at least three events or meetings or activities. Words by Bob Goff echoed in the back of my head: “The battles for our hearts are fought on the pages of our calendars.”
Was I losing the battle for my heart? Have I filled my life up with so many to-dos and be-heres and bring-these that I’m missing the point?
The idea that Goff is purporting is a very valid argument. He makes it a habit to quit something – a board, an organization – every Thursday. He does this because he doesn’t want to be constrained by earthly commitments. Goff is constantly available to those who ask for his presence or his words. All of this is very admirable, but I’m not sure that I want to apply these methods in my life.
You see, Goff is breaking commitments, and I want to be the kind of person who takes commitments very seriously. When I say I’m going to be somewhere, I want to be there – and I hope that I will be fully there, not focusing on where else I could be or where I’ll be next. I do not have this perfected. Being present is something I struggle with all the time. But I’m also working to improve on it.
Still, Goff’s argument that our busyness keeps us from giving our hearts fully to the Lord is incredibly true. We talked about this a few weeks ago when my church did a whole series on stress and anxiety and busyness. Being too busy can keep us from growing closer to the Lord and serving others.
I’ve been thinking about this all week. I was actually praying about it while running an errand for my boss at work today. I came back and proceeded to take a screen shot of my full calendar and post it on Facebook, along with a snarky, ironically prideful comment that read something like, “If you were wanting to see me in April, I hope you booked me weeks ago.” For some strange reason, however, the picture refused to load. While I was waiting, one of the girls from my social club came in and joined me. We proceeded to talk about life stuff, and I mentioned that I am considering taking a leadership position in a group I’m a part of at my church but that I was worried about over-committing. My friend began to encourage me with words I desperately needed to hear without knowing it. She told me how much she appreciated my efforts to help others and mentioned some of the very things I was stressed about – social club, work, ResLife, and more. I was surprised and overwhelmed by her encouragement.
Please understand that I am not writing this out of a heart of pride or selfishness.
My friend helped me to realize something. My busyness hasn’t prevented me from serving. In fact, in many ways, I’m busy because I’m serving. But stress has caused me to forget why I’m busy in the first place. I have forgotten that I participate in all the groups and activities that I do because I want to serve and love others. I have forgotten that those tutoring sessions, those campus events, those birthday parties and dinner dates and even those desk shifts, all matter to someone.
Last month I asked the speaker at a retreat I attended if he ever gets tired from traveling and speaking so much. His schedule was even busier than mine, and I assumed he must get absolutely exhausted. His words surprised me. He told me that the Lord gave him energy and that because He was serving the Kingdom, he didn't feel worn out or spent.
One could make the argument that staff meetings and pancake parties do little to serve the Kingdom. It is true that evangelism may not take place at many of these events. But they do all serve to build a community that does further the kingdom. ResLife is a great example. All of the logistics and reports and meetings are important because they enable RAs to build community with their residents, who learn that they can come to RAs for encouragement, prayer, guidance, and hugs. That matters. I spend time in fellowship with friends to build relationships that encourage and uplift everyone involved. That matters. I participate in a social group that provides sisterhood, prayer, laughter, and support to dozens of women. That matters. Bible study and Lifegroup and discipleship matter. School and work matter.
I’ve been wondering, recently, if I am living what Jesus would call a “full life.”
I really think I am.
A full life for me means a full schedule. I want to spend my days serving others. I have a certain amount of time to spend on this planet. I could spend it all reading books and watching movies and sleeping. Or I could spend some of it doing that and some of it serving others.
After my friend left, the picture of the calendar still hadn’t loaded. I exited out anyway. I have nothing to complain about.
Certainly, my schedule will require some adjustment. Some things will need to be moved to create time for rest and fellowship. I do need to take care of myself in order to take care of other people. I should probably also do homework at some point…(just kidding, Mom and Dad, I always do my homework!)
But suddenly, I am grateful for all of the events, programs, and service opportunities I will have in the month of April. It’s going to be hard. It will probably still be stressful, and I probably won’t get much sleep. But it’s the last month of my sophomore year in college, and there is much to do. I think I’m actually going to enjoy it, and enjoy it to the full.