The Promise of a Less-Hectic Life

Sharon JaynesBalanced Living 50 Comments

Today I welcome my friend and fellow Proverbs 31 Ministries author, Glynnis Whitwer, to share from her new book, Doing Busy Better. Glynnis is also giving away a copy of Doing Busy Better to one of my readers, plus she has free downloads for all of you! Here’s Glynnis:

For years I took pride in being overly busy.

Between the needs of family, work, home and church my days were filled to overflowing. Although my schedule was chaotic and I was nuts, I preferred to think of myself as a “highly productive person.”

Friends would ask, “How do you manage all you do?” And I’d respond with a humble-brag, “I guess I’m just wired that way.”

My heart did a little pitter-patter at the recognition of my work, at their respect of my achievements. I hungered for that type of response; it fueled me to keep pressing on.

But in the quiet of my day, my to-do list whispered another truth. The truth that glares at me and says I haven’t done it all. I knew this truth but chose to avoid it. It was easier to find excuses and place blame because, after all, I was “really busy.”

My friends don’t see that side of me. They have the advantage of seeing all I get done; not what’s left undone. But I do.

Perhaps you know this feeling too. No matter how much you accomplish, what bothers you most is what you didn’t finish. That long list of to-do’s (whether it’s on paper or just rolling around in your mind) keeps you up at night.

A lot of undone work includes mundane, everyday tasks like cleaning up, making a menu for the week or paying bills.

But there’s more. There are the dreams we cannot touch. Vacations we don’t plan. Time we want to be intentional with those we love, including God, but can’t seem to manage.

A few years ago I thought I was having a panic attack. I sat on my couch feeling a heavy weight on my chest. It was hard to breathe, and anxiety simmered, but there was no apparent threat.

However, looming deadlines, a demanding home business, part-time work and mounting emails beckoned while five kids wondered, When will dinner be ready … and are there any clean socks?

My life felt out-of-control. I was burned out from having too much to do, and always feeling behind. The fear of disappointing someone chased me constantly. I was busy, but simply didn’t know how to stop the endless cycle.

Turns out I didn’t have an anxiety problem. I had an over-commitment problem.

In order to start making changes, I had to honestly face some hard things about myself. My hunger for significance drove me to take on more than I could handle. But the satisfaction of completing a task was momentary and shallow, leaving me with a hectic life and a hollow soul.

Before I could live the less-hectic life I desperately longed for, I had to address the root issue of my heart’s need. And part of that was identifying the lie that drove me to overwork.

Jesus promised an abundant life, but also told us there is an enemy plotting our downfall: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

And our enemy, “the thief,” is also a liar, always twisting the truth. So while Jesus promised an abundant life, Satan spins it so we think that life is found in an abundance of activity and commitments. Only too late do we realize that life steals from us what’s best … room to breathe, focus and space in our schedules to fulfill our God-given priorities.

The abundant life Jesus offers isn’t filled with to-do’s. Tasks satisfy from the outside in, never reaching the core of who we are. Jesus’ satisfies from the inside out, as we experience the depth of His love, purpose and peace.

It took a year of trimming my responsibilities before I experienced the abundant life Jesus promised. I’ve discovered that doing less actually makes me feel more significant when I’m not seeking achievements to fill my heart.

Jesus promises a less-hectic life, and it’s a promise He can fulfill when we look to Him to fill our days, instead of an endless to-do list.

Leave a comment  below and share an area of your life that God is calling you to slow the pace in. We’ll randomly pick one commenter to win a copy of Doing Busy Better.  You’ll have one week to respond after you’ve been notified. (U.S. addresses only please).

Free Downloads Glynnis has five mobile lockscreens you can download to be reminded of what God’s Word says about rest by subscribing here. You can also download a sample chapter of Doing Busy Better, and if you purchase a copy, be sure to redeem your receipt to receive a FREE companion Study Guide. Get the details here.

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Comments 50

  1. I am handicapped and tonight God and I spent some time together. I asked Him why did I feel overwhelmed. He told me the games that I play and coloring. I use games and coloring for anxieties. So I have to figure how to do this. I would like to get out and work with God.

    1. I have learned to keep my eyes on Christ and deal with things moment by moment in His love and grace! I am learning to give my best yes! I never use to journal with my devotional time however I now do! In that journal time there is a whole lot of gratitude and this keeps me grounded! grounded! I now can handle the business BETER!!

  2. My soon-to-be ex husband’s ex wife ( did you follow that 😳) is just like this…and I believe the Lord brought me into her life to disrupt this…I’m good at disrupting😎

  3. One area in my life that God has me taking a step back is overcommitting myself by being a people pleaser. God wants me to be a God pleaser. I over do it get stressed out & make myself sick. I want to use my every being for Jesus

  4. Being a pastors wife, I feel crushed under the weight of other people’s expectations of what I’m suppose to do, from teaching everything from Sunday school to women’s biblestudy to cleaning to planning events to taking meals …the list never ends . I know the Lord wants me to be a Mary not a Martha.

  5. What a comfort to know I’m not alone in “busyness ” struggles! I’m 63, nearing retirement, divorced, kids are grown & gone, yet I still have this struggle! Thank you for your words of encouragement & hope! You expressed my thoughts & feelings so well it was if I had penned them myself, yet I’m not clear on the answers….

  6. I so needed this this morning. I recently started a new career in Realestate, I have a home based business that has been my vehicle for change, and I’m a wife and mother of five fabulous kids. I love my life! I’ve been so busy growing and growing fast Raise God that I’m not able to enjoy the journey. This really spoke to me deep into my soul. Thank you for sharing this wisdom. I have decided I will rise this morning and go to daily Mass at 7:50 this morning to get centered on the most important thing I could possibly do today. I’m sure starting the day in the presence of Our Lord will make the day spectacular. Again,Thank you for sharing the importance of journey it’s not the busy, but the experience Enjoy it.

  7. I work full time as a social worker, have been in school full time for 6 years (got my Masters and now in PhD program) I have a dog, who recently had a medical crisis for a month and a 3 bedroom townhouse to take care of. Busy… ?? Too much so! I think more than the amount of ‘things’ that need to be done is the stress that follows. I have used being busy as an excuse to not be social with friends, I’m just so tired, and any free time I want for myself. Busy also created selfish. My dog is better, school ends mid Aug. (But work is still very stressfull!) This would be a great time to read this book and create and use my time wisely. To relax and spend time with Jesus. Thank you for this timely reminder. God is good!!

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  8. Oh, I so need this! Right now I can’t say I am really over committed in any one area – I just have too many areas that I have committed, if that makes sense. I need to re-evaluate my priorities and weed out some things. Thank you so much for sharing this valuable encouragement to me. I look forward to reading your book soon.

  9. God has slowed me down as I take care of my husband who is not well. It was not easy to do but with God I learned that doing small tasks and leaning on Him I could slow down. It is not in me to sit but with God I can learn to.

  10. Oh my! This is like music to my ears. This spring I have had the revelation that God was not calling me to do more but to simplify and be present. I haven’t really known how to do that yet. I am trying to not say “yes” to new things without being absolutley sure that it’s what He wants me to do but the streamlining of the “busy” is tough. I’ve always told myself that busy is the way I function. In fact, I’ve often experienced bouts of depression when I have too much spare time on my hands. After reading this, it makes sense to me that I would feel that when I wasn’t busy because I was finding my source of significance in work and not God.

    Sorry this is so long, it’s just that it’s coming together for me.

    To answer the question, one area God is calling me to ‘slow my roll’ in is my involvment in a professional organization I have been in leadership in for years. It has been a wonderful experience but I often travel for it and spend hours of mental energy on it. I can’t say that it has been a spiritually fruitful part of my life although I have learned leadership skills like I never have before. I am in an elected position that will end a year from now. God has been opening my eyes to the amount of time I spend on it and what I’m missing at home and with Him because of it. I realize I don’t “need” that recognition as much as I need to be in his presence and in His will!

    Thank you! I will put your book on my to-read list!

  11. Oh how I just loved this devotion, it spoke right to my heart. As my daughter is planning to head off to college in the fall, I have made several lists to get everything just perfect for her. However, she is not motivated. I have prayed and feel that God is telling me not to push her and to give her responsibility. So, I’ve turned several of the tasks over to her and I’m trusting God, which is hard to know that something might not get done!

  12. Doing busy better is a daily struggle. I thought by 52 I would have it “figured out”. I’m trying to determine how and where to scale back. My job is a prime example. Meeting my own self imposed standards and trying to win the approval of others instead of just living for Him in my world is my daily reality. I’m hoping to glean wisdom from other sisters in Christ. Thanks for sharing your story!

  13. I have just gone thru this or should I say I am going thru this… I was so busy with work, church & family that I was beyond stressed. I am learning to say no. There is no 1 area that is more than the other, but they all effect my family. 🙁

  14. Slowing down for me has become necessary because of a physical crisis. Although I have struggled to overcome the “lack” in my ability to recover as quickly as I wished, I have been profoundly affected positively by slowing down my mind. Focusing on God’s word, prayer, and staying away from the negative chatter in my head, has been a huge step towards healing my body. I am amazed at how easily the body responds to a mind filled with what God intends. It’s quiet and ready to heal the body.

  15. That’s exactly where I am today. Thank you for the reminder. I have been in janitorial work for a long time. Gradually increasing my work load. At one point I had morning and evening work. When that got to be too much for me there came an opening at the store . Now I’m doing part time at the store. Along with 3 evening jobs and 2 places needing done on the weekend. I have 3 kids. O e works. One is homeschooling high school on line. And the little guy is special needs going into grade 2 in the school. I love my ministry opportunities of occasional worship leading and a ladies bible study group with “knowing God by name” in my home. Lots of different life circumstances have left me not capable of doing busy without overwhelm. I know even my relationship with the Lord is not what it should be. I know I can come to him for rest and peace and joy but have lost the way to finding that rest. Pray for me that God will find me when I seek Him. I am in the process of trying to get out of some if not all of the cleaning to make one job enough and actually have time for kids and husband and God.

  16. Awesome devotion! I am a recent widow and am in the process of reevaluating life and priorities, to allow for less busyness and stress, thus resulting in more enjoyment of family and friends. I’ve noticed this destressing is also resulting in focusing more on Bible study, prayer, and worshipping of God through His praise and worship music.😍

  17. I think that God is calling me to pick one job out of my two, but I am afraid to lose any of the income or investment in my time that I’ve already made.

  18. How wonderful to be encouraged by both Sharon and Glynnis, two of my favorite women of God!! I needed this today……My husband just retired and we are in the process of moving across the country next week to be closer to family. Both of these milestones happening at the same time is overwhelming to us both! Thank you for the reassurance you give and the reminder to “be still”. God bless you both for the encouragement you give just when we need it.

  19. I’m self-employed and trying to grow my business, so the question “am I doing enough?” hangs over me constantly. Most days I either wear myself out by multitasking work with worries about not “finishing on time” or “doing it well enough,” or I get depressed over not being able to think of “anything to do.” Part of the problem being inexperience with strategic marketing and uncertainty over MY best approach there, I’ve committed myself to get up half an hour earlier every morning for 40 days and pray for direction.

  20. Oh my goodness….has Miss Glynnis been following me around silently making notes of my life… crazy busy life. I work a full time job of 25 years, I have 5 children (3 in the home now all active in sports), 1 granddaughter who plays soccer, my husband owns his own business so I do his paperwork and payroll and quarterly tax stuff, plus we are very active in church and help with the youth group. My mom is 85 and I try to help her as much as possible. I usually fall into bed by 11:30pm and am rendered unconcious due to the days activities. When the sun comes up, it all starts over. I hear all the time, “I don’t know how you do it.” Generally, I say, “Me either…” and then we laugh. I’m worn out. My children suffer and my poor husband…..well you know, he suffers in so many ways. I would love to read this book and share with some of my busy co-worker moms. We started and study group at lunch, but again, everyone was so busy, it has fallen by the wayside. I was excited to see there may be study guide with the book. H-E-L-P……I’m busy and I can’t slow down.

  21. I am grateful for this timely reminder! I am over committed and I’m not sure why I tend to get over-involved in too many good things. After recently recognizing I have had to say no to more important activities- like time with grandchildren I am realizing that it is definitely Time to slow down!
    Thank you!

  22. Totally agree!! The looming list of unfinished things that I think I have to do (not necessarily what I need to do) can be so overwhelming some days. In the last year I have found making my time with God priority (which is hard some days!) usually allows me to get other things done…in God’s timing not mine. I have to ask Him to help me daily and allow Him to lead my schedule and not me…And His is always better!!

  23. Feeling the need to perform, my need to know what it looks like and if it doesn’t, then it’s a failure. I have always looked outside myself, outside my family to serve to reach out to others (not that it is bad). BUT God has been calling me to lean on Him, calling me to Him; to spend sometime in the cleft of His rock. I always have a list of how that looks, how to get there. Striving, performing, But God…

  24. I decluttered my Facebook page recently. My messages there went way down. Now I need to keep my Facebook activity pared down, to follow the Lord’s direction.

  25. Even though my son is grown-up, I am still reminded by God to slow down and not just fill my life with activities. This season as we begin Fall, I’m consciously thinking about each opportunity. I just declined to go to another Bible Study because it’s just too much! (I already am involved in 2 others!) Ps 46:10. Be still and know that I am God.

  26. This post is a nice summary of my cuurent life. I feel like I am doing so much but there is always much more left to be done and I keep pushing myself because I feel like that is the only way they will need me enough to stay around me but yet I struggle with the feeling that I am never enough and I never do enough :-(. And I just found out that I am pregnant of my third child!!! So I really don’t know how I am going to keep up if I don’t find way to stop and make better choices! Please God help me.

  27. I have always been an “over-achiever “. I work in a school office (very busy place), have 5 (plus one coming in November ) and I am a quilter. Plus I am a wife and a gardener and small group leader…..the list goes on.
    As I write this I am waiting to have surgery tomorrow morning for a recurrence of melanoma. That’s going to slow me down for a few weeks. Thankfully it hasn’t spread to any organs, just lymph nodes. I have the best doctors and the best hospital staff in the country.
    I have been trying to finish quilts for all the kids and grandkids before surgery…didn’t reach that goal so I trust God will keep me going at least until they are all finished 😊.
    I would be blessed to receive your book. Thank you for the opportunity

  28. I thought that as I got older, life would slow down. Having just hit “the big six-o”, I am still waiting!! In many ways, I am more busy than ever. It definitely is harder to manage my time because most things that come into my path are worth my time and energy. My discernment is where I need help because none of us is called to do everything!! Thank you both for your ministry of encouragement. Blessings!!

  29. I feel like your words could’ve been mine. Almost two years ago I experienced anxiety to the point that I wore a heart monitor for two weeks and had several tests run. Turns out, my heart is healthy, but my stress levels are not… I wear many hats in the church. I love each job that I do, but I know there are too many. Besides the jobs I have at church, I’m a homeschooling mom of four kids, who each have activities outside the home that keep them busy. I feel like cutting out any of their activities is unfair because they are each only allowed one activity and I want them to have something to look forward to outside our home. On top of that, my husband runs his own business and also helps his father & brother run another, so I try to be helpful and supportive of those things. Add in laundry, meal plans, paying bills, grocery shopping, housework, etc. and I am a mess! My heart cries to STOP! but I honestly am unsure of what needs to go and what needs to stay. My husband and I have had the discussion many times. I’ve learned to say “no” more, but it’s still too much!

  30. thank you for this reminder, it is definitely for me cuz lately I had been so busy and I hardly accomplished anything.I need to reorganized my quite time with Him.

    Thank you

  31. I love to say yes I’ll help but then no one helps me. I’m so guilty of over committing I need to find rest. This is s must read for me. Thanks for writing.

  32. I’ve always been a workaholic – busy, busy, busy-stressed, stressed, stressed! Over the past few years my priorities have shifted. I think I’m probably still just as busy but I’ve found something that brings joy and my prayer is that the Lord will use it!

  33. I think God is calling me to slow down in basically EVERY area of my life. My work life is overloaded, plus we are doing a major remodel of our house, so it seems like every minute is accounted for, and time with God I abashedly admit has been pushed to the back burner. I’m super organized and love having to-do lists, but I have received numerous reminders (this post for one) that my to-do lists can also overwhelm my life and actually hinder my productivity.

    Thank you for this timely reminder!

  34. 2 yrs ago all my “activity” was suddenly gone & I’m disabled< but I overdo Bible study! Can u believe that! But I'd be better off to do less studies— at one time—& do a good job of that one

  35. Sometimes our gifts and talents can take us down a road that appears to be the right path- but then we realize that we ended up somewhere we weren’t expecting. It’s so easy for me to fill my schedule- especially with volunteering at church- because those are the things we should fill our schedule with- right?? I have had to learn to find a balance in my life even when things seem like the “right thing to do” The need for approval to soothe my insecurities should not be what drives me- and I find myself constantly saying ‘I need to stop being a Martha and be more like Mary’ and focus on the relationships and not just the tasks that get attention. As I grow I am learning to be better about this. I am also so very blessed that I have a husband that is completely supportive of my commitments but also helps me find the balance.

  36. Thank you Glynnis (and Sharon). I needed to read this today. I feel like my schedule has taken over my days, and I haven’t been able to feel the Holy Spirit’s nudges in my heart. I’ve become too distracted with obligations. My prayer is that I will give myself permission to say no once in awhile, slow down, and spend some quality time with Jesus.

  37. I have become so overwhelmed by everything that needs to be done that I can’t seem to get anything accomplished. In the last two years my son had a motorcycle accident that resulted in 20 surgeries. My mother passed away after falling and breaking her hip and we were caregivers for an elderly friend that had lost his wife and our very dear friend, he recently passed away. I feel like I’m just going thru the motions. As much as I try to prioritize I just can’t seem to get anything done and my husband cannot deal with the chaos. I so need help. Thank you.

  38. I’m laying on my couch with a heatingpad on my back. Seems I pulled a muscle as I lifted my daughter’s wheelchair I no the car. Maybe God allowed it to get me to STOP. I have been running around tending to life as my mom was in the hospital and we are trying to find medical help for my daughter who has a chronic illness that has caused her to become disabled. Add to that getting ready for another school year as a kindergarten teacher.

    I used to take a certain “pride” of being busy, juggling many tasks and being the “responsible one”. But lately that feeling of accomplishment has turned to resentment and angst. My peace is gone. I was convicted by the author’s words of her experience. It is time to STOP.

  39. god is asking me to wake-up and live in the present as i always tend to get struck with my life and forget to live in the present and don’t realize how a year comes to end i have stopped talking to god with this busy schedule of mine and stopped traveling which i used i always love to, traveling for me is like to explore gods creation, sometimes i feel like giving up everything but then i am not alone i have a family to look after. don’t know when will i be able to clear of my life complexities and live peacefully.

  40. How I struggle with busyness! I simply cannot keep up with working full-time as a teacher (middle school), raising four kids and keeping my house clean as well as spiritual responsibilities – my relationship with God and leading my children, since my husband is not. One of the best ways to relieve the stress is to hire a housekeeper and pray that some day my husband we take on the spiritual leadership of his family that belongs to him before I go insane with busyness, and guilt over my inadequacies as a mom and substitute spiritual leader.

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