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Is this the real reason you’re so busy?

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Scarlett Rose Ford - published on 11/30/23

In our culture, we are often told that the busier you are, the more important you are. But what does this mean for our relationship with God?
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The yellow school bus jostled on the road from Harvard University to the middle of nowhere, New Hampshire. As we headed north, the air filtering through the bus windows cooled while the blur of trees outside reddened. It was my first weekend off campus, and I was terrified — not because I knew no one on the trip, but because I was missing a whole weekend of productivity.

Across campus, there’s always an event or lecture happening at any given time. There’s always something new I could be learning, a book I could be reading, a paper I could be writing. There’s always something more I could be doing. In my mind, taking a weekend off to prioritize my relationship with God felt like a misuse of all these opportunities.

When we arrived at the retreat cabin, I instinctively grabbed my laptop on the way to the first talk to multitask in the back row. As I started on an assignment, the retreat speaker projected a PowerPoint presentation. “In our culture, we are often told that the busier you are, the more important you are,” he began. “But the truth is on the screen: Busyness ≠ Importance.”

Oof. I tried to inconspicuously close my laptop as I realized that, subconsciously, I’d been equating these two with one another the whole semester: I sacrificed my prayer life to seize every academic opportunity; I viewed a busy schedule as a form of validation. I was so consumed with appealing to others that I forgot about who I should really care to impress — God.

As I gave the speaker my undivided attention, I made it my goal to be as academically unproductive as possible for the rest of the retreat. I put down my laptop and picked up my rosary. I turned off my phone and spent the weekend hiking, canoeing, and swimming. I cleared my schedule and prayed manylitanies of humility to internalize these words: Busyness ≠ Importance. 

Returning to Cambridge, I made sure to bring these words with me. Our society may say that productivity is everything, but it is insignificant in the eyes of God; no amount of knowledge could make Him love us any more. He wants us to spend our time with Him, not on tasks that don’t contribute to our salvation. These may make us seem more significant to other people, but we shouldn’t care about other people; we should only care about God.


This is part of the series called “The Human Being Fully Alive” found here.

The Human Being Fully Alive
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