Our Busyness is Not Real

What is real?

Isn’t this the question we ask ourselves?

Isn’t this the theme that pervades literature, encompasses humanity?  Are we not all searching and seeking to find reality?

Is this not the the question of philosophers and theologians alike?

When we find out that something is not real, it loses any power or authority it may have had. If a man claims to be king, but we discover he is a fraud, that man has no right to rule. When we discover that a diet is not based on the reality of good nutrition, we no longer abide by its regimen. I think that we could all agree that knowing what is real is absolutely essential to living our lives well.

And so, I think it is my duty to inform everyone, at least everyone to whom this post applies (mostly middle to upper-class Americans), that I have discovered something dictating our lives that is not real. This something drives us, consumes us, and steals from us. And its time to call it out for what it is: a lie.

What is not real, you ask? Busyness.

We have long abided by the rules of busyness. We are all busy. So so busy. This is our answer to nearly every “how are you?” we receive in a day. I’m so busy.

But what if, for most of us, our busyness is actually artificial?

Our busyness is not necessary. No, I have seen real busyness. In the eyes of the women in a Guatemalan village where they must walk a mile to get water for cooking and cleaning, they must cook all of their meals on a wood fire, they must care for their families with rudimentary materials in the scorching heat of the sun. I have seen busyness in the eyes of the men and women rummaging through the trash in the dump hour after hour to find just a few pounds for just a few pennies for just a little bit of food. And true busyness is actually right here in our midst; in the eyes of the man who must work two full time minimum wage jobs to keep a roof over his family’s head. That is real busyness.

But for the middle to upper-class American, to the man or woman seeking to climb the ladder to be the best and look the best and sound the best, our busyness is actually quite artificial. It’s actually a façade for brokenness. We lack self-worth, we lack a known and sure identity, and so we are faced with an emptiness in our souls. And because we fear vulnerability, exposing our brokenness and emptiness, we hide behind the façade of busy. Working and doing and working some more. And because we are privileged with money and education, our façade looks pretty good – our mask of busyness looks quite real.

But what if there is more than what meets the eye? What if this busyness is not real and is actually suffocating and damaging our soul even more than the emptiness in the first place?

This deception of busyness has so infiltrated our schemas and schedules and mindsets that I’m honestly not sure what all we would have to do to stop operating from this lie.

But I do think I know how we can start.

We can start by being honest with ourselves and vulnerable with others about the state of our own heart and soul.

We can start by slowing down and learning to listen deeply to one another.

We can begin this journey of seeking and searching for Truth; and I’m quite certain we will find Him if we seek and search with our whole heart.

Here’s the article that began my own contemplation which I hope you will read to continue the conversation with others:


~Sarah Foster


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