By Rachel from Africa
In America, we drill busyness into our heads from a young age. It isn’t enough just to go to school and study. We need to be involved in sports, music, and theater. On top of that, some of us had a job in high school.
And it isn’t just a stage of life, it is the start of a lifestyle.
We continued by always being busy, not resting. Who needs sleep when you can just drink coffee that at some point doesn’t affect our bodies anymore? We seek other ways to keep us going and turn into little robots, always tired, but never stopping. I know that I am guilty of it.
It took coming to Africa to learn how much busyness has consumed my life. I live in a culture where people work hard, but once they finish, they rest. They spend time with friends. It is a social culture. Many people have no problem sitting around doing nothing when it is not their turn to work. I came with no clear schedule, but with this addiction of always doing something. I started with language learning.
So, if I left my house at 8 a.m. and was interacting with people until about 8 p.m. at night, I felt satisfied as if I am actually doing the work people sent me here to do. If I got home at 6 p.m., there wasn’t quite that much satisfaction. This last year, I lived with girls so my “work” wasn’t just in town, but it was at home–a 24/7 job. I saw the effects it had on me.
Because I had this mindset that there are churches and people who have sent me over here to do ministry, I needed to represent them well. They have given me money, are praying for me, and if I am sitting at home during the day, I am betraying them. So I did crazy things like fill up my schedule from about 8 a.m. till 8 p.m., and at home, continued my work until 11 p.m. with my girls at the house.
Most days, I would only be living off of 5 or 6 hours of sleep. It is really hot here, and the culture and language can be exhausting. I am not saying this to show you how motivated I am or how much work I am doing. I am telling you this because it is a big problem and not a good thing.
This summer God spoke to me, and asked me why I felt this need to be busy? Why do I need to be going all the time? I am not going to save the world. I can’t even save one person. Jesus is the Savior, not me.
Or am I just trying to prove to my supporters that I am doing what they sent me here to do?
Or is it that I want the people here to think highly of me and that I actually can and do work?
Bingo, there it is… people pleasing.
I have struggled with it for my entire life. While there are some benefits to being able to build relationships easily, it is extremely draining. I don’t feel like I can say no and I end up doing it all with some things I don’t really want to do. This mix of people pleasing, not saying no, and my American work mindset has actually set me up for failure. Thankfully God has shown me how this is a problem and is helping me work through it.
During the times where I intentionally fill up my schedule just so I could say that I did something, I have decided that it is better to spend time with my girls at the house or spend time in prayer. My busyness has also taken a toll on my relationship with God. I have lots of time for Him in the morning, but once I leave the house, I don’t take time until night time when I am back at home, too exhausted to even think clearly. So I am asking for your prayer.
God did not call me to “do it all.” He called me to obedience and to live at this moment in Africa. He called me to love, encourage, and disciple the young women at my house, at the church, and in our inter-varsity group. He called me into a relationship with Him so that His love and light can shine through me.
I have learned so much from these last two years, and I really pray this year will be even better! Pray that I can take all that I have learned and apply it to this year. Pray that I will be able to find balance in my schedule; that I won’t be addicted to busyness but I will fix my eyes on Jesus and let the Holy Spirit guide me and my schedule here.
Would you like to encourage her in her journey? All comments will be emailed to her.