My calendar lay open on the desk in front of me. Every square was filled, packed to the brim, with scrawling reminders and bulleted to-do lists and bold due dates. Jotted into any space that remained was things I could try to get ahead on, things I probably should do if I found a few extra minutes, and quick errands to run if I found myself with an extra eight minutes. I flipped through this planner as one might flip hair over her shoulders. A little flounce, a little smug smirk. I pushed the planner a little further up on the desk as I wrote down a minute-by-minute schedule of how I was going to accomplish that day’s tasks, hoping those next to me would notice how bulging my life was with things to do. I felt a small surge in my heart as pride over this busy schedule began to swell.
Somehow, in this warped society of hustle and achieve, busyness had become synonymous with successful.
Somehow, in my warped heart longing for meaning and value, busyness had become my identity.
We were moving. My husband, fresh out of college, had an offer for a full time teaching position in a little mountain town so naturally we were packing our bags and heading west. I said goodbye to each job, each student, each position, each class. My to-do list was diminishing and my purpose right along with it. I sat on the floor of our too-big unfurnished rental house in the middle of the mountains staring at the empty walls, wondering how I would possibly fill all this unexpected, vast white space.
Busy had defined me for so long I had come to believe it is what gave my life worth. Because how could an aimless person sitting on the floor and staring into space have any worth? What kind of contribution to society is this? Where is there value here on the floor?
You were made for this. These unexpected words pierced through the thick fog of this extensional crisis. What? How could I possibly be made for this? You’re supposed to get this kind of affirmation when you’re doing big, productive things. Exploring new countries, running in the Olympics, preaching to thousands, standing on mountaintops, singing on lit stages to captive audiences. Not this floor sitting nothingness.
You were made for this. These same words were whispered to another floor sitter, thousands of years ago. An important crowd was gathered in her home, a famous teacher and his followers. Her sister was racing around the kitchen, making preparations for a feast worthy of these important people. There was surely a to-do list, a pile of tasks to accomplish. If there was ever a time for busyness it was now. But there she was. Sitting on the floor. Her sister nagged her to come help, to stop sitting and start busying. Jesus said no. This is where she belongs. She was made for this.
You’ve heard this story before, haven’t you? I had too. A hundred times. Every retreat, every devotional, every sermon on rest. It’s familiarity in our spiritual formation has left it trite and cliche. Yeah, yeah. Be a Mary in a world of Marthas. I got it.
And yet our calendars are still stuffed full, our days are packed to the brim, our lives are oozing out from the sides because we’re still flaunting our busyness as a medal. We claim to be following Jesus yet we’ve left him behind, sitting quietly, as we blaze ahead to the next thing on our list.
As long as we make busyness our identity, we will never find the meaning and satisfaction that our hearts ache for. We weren’t made to be running around chaotically chasing accomplishment and achievement. We weren’t made for busy. We were made for intimate communion with Jesus. To sit at his feet and know his heart. And until we stop hurrying we will never become the person we were created to be. We were made for floor sitting.
It’s Holy Week. On Sunday we’ll stretch out our hands outward and lift our eyes heavenward as we sing Alleluias, smiles bursting across our faces. But for now we’re in the overwhelming darkness before the light breaks forth. Hours before he was crucified Jesus confessed his overwhelming sorrow to those closest to him. “Stay here and keep watch with me,” he asked them. They were tired, like we all find ourselves this busy week in April. But Jesus craved their company that night, and he craves yours this week. In the midst of your daily routine look for ways to carve out time to sit on the floor and be with Jesus. It is not only the answer to your greatest desire, it is also his.
Three Resources to help you sit on the floor:
- A Reading Plan to get the truth in your heart.
- A Playlist to get the story echoing through your soul.
- A few words of my own that have been given to me during my moments on the floor.