Rush-aholics Anonymous

My name is Ben and I am a rush-aholic. 

I am thinking of starting a group. We could meet every Tuesday. I would wolf down my dinner, barely talk to my family and then drive over the speed limit the whole way in order to find myself sitting there 20 minutes early twiddling my thumbs. Others might then join me and we would sit in a circle and quickly tell stories of how busy life is and all the problems that are in the world that need fixing. A few would arrive late and sit down. Secretly, we would all be a little jealous as these must be the really important people who couldn’t even get here on time. Towards the end of the group we’d all leave early, offering apologies and drive too fast to get home where we’d crash on the sofa. Lets be honest, it is not easy being a rush-aholic.

But what’s the problem with being busy?

This was the same question they asked at an American University in 1973. Theology students were told to prepare a sermon on “the Good Samaritan.” Then, as they were preparing to head to the lecture theatre, their lecturer came to get them.

To the first third he told them, “They are almost ready for you… you might as well head on over.”

To the second third he said, “They are all ready and waiting for you now”

To the last third he said, “You are late! Everyone has been waiting for you!”

The students then set off to the lecture theatre but encountered a man along the way who was coughing and in serious need of help. Of those students who were in a low hurry 63% stopped to help him. Of those in medium hurry 45% stopped to help. Of those that were in a rush only 10% stopped to help the man in need.

We can be spirit filled, biblically educated, compassionate and morally upright but if we do not allow ourselves the time to stop and see the needs in front of us then what is the point?

Pause for a moment and think. How any opportunities might there been right along your path that you have walked straight past because you are simply too busy? Or conversations that you have cut short? Or people in need that you ignored?

We make ourselves busy for different reasons:

  • It can make us feel important
  • We can be ambitious and want to succeed/do well in our work
  • We can’t say no to people and overextend
  • We are hopelessly disorganised
  • It stops us from having to deal with the mess of life

Of course, there are times in our life when we have no choice but to be busy. When you first get married and are busy in love. When you have a baby and are busy in nappies. When someone passes away and you are busy in sorrow. When you have a job interview and are about to miss the train. You are 100% allowed to be busy in these times and are just seasons.

However, as someone who artificially creates busyness to feel better and then crashes from exhaustion, I am beginning to wonder what it might look like if I sought God for that validation (or healing or affirmation or purpose) and allowed him to shape my plans, schedules and timetables. I have read that story about the Samaritan a hundred times and today, for the first time, I realise that I am less like the Samaritan and more like the Levite who walked on by.

St Teresa of Avila’s prayer (which I’ve slightly adapted)

“Christ has no body now, but ours.
No hands, no feet on earth, but ours.
Ours are the eyes through which
Christ looks compassion into the world.
Ours are the feet
with which Christ walks to do good.
Ours are the hands
with which Christ blesses the world.”

Let nothing trouble us,
let nothing frighten us.
All things are passing;
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
He who possesses God lacks nothing:
God alone suffices.

So, I want to start a group. Where we won’t walk past the beggar. Where we won’t ignore those ‘unimportant’ conversations. Where we won’t blinker ourselves to the needs of this world. Where we stop rushing and begin seeing the need for us to be the hands of Christ.

Its only banter

A couple of months ago my two year old was being very rude to me. He was pushing his limits and I told him off. He simply smiled at me and said, “Daddy, its only banter”.

What can you do? I laughed and let him off.

After all we are British and we are great at banter. Blackadder is the hero of sarcasm and we like to use quick thinking and clever put downs to prove our superiority over everyone else. After all “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Its  only banter.

King Solomon, the author of Proverbs, disagrees. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue”

There are words we speak that literally have the power of life and death. There are words that can suck the life out of a person and words that will feed them and invest life into them. This is why bullying in our schools is such a devastating issue. This is why trolling on the internet is so loathsome. This is why abusive jokes are not funny. It has made me stop and think. ‘Does my banter build me (or others) up in any way?’

The Philosopher Ivan Illich was once asked, “What is the most revolutionary way to change a society: Is it violent revolution or gradual reform?” He replied carefully, “Neither. If you want to society, then change their story”

The stories we tell become the paradigm we live in. If we want to change our world we need to change our words.

However, when I try to be positive. When I try to speak out in affirmation it feels foreign and plastic. it feels fake. My wife confronted me recently asking, ‘why do I always have to tell you to compliment me?’ The answer: I am scared of sounding insincere and plastic. Its not that I don’t think that she is beautiful, wonderful, hard working and a brilliant mother. The truth is that the words that I want to speak feel fake because positive words have become strangers to my lips. 

So what do we do? How do we use our words without making them cheap. Without making them worthless. Or without pretending something is not what it actually is?

John 6:63 says, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life”

Our words have the potential to be spirit and life. Our silence does not.

Change your words – change your world