Today’s society exalts the hurried leader. Being busy is a badge of honor. Identifiers such as diligent multi-tasker litter resumes. Hustle and boss babe quotes inundate our social media feeds. We make checklists of tasks we’ve already completed just to check the box with our fancy felt-tip pen in order to feel accomplished. We consistently answer the question, “How have you been?” with a hesitant laugh and a one-word response. “Busy.” “Overwhelmed.”
In order to lead, however, we have to shed whatever title we have come to identify as our true self and remember that at our most basic form, we are simply a human being. Our most authentic self is who we are outside of the various roles we play. At the end of the day, I am not a Principal, sister, daughter, wife, author, educator or friend. At my most sincere and basic form I am just Jessica, child of God, created, quite simply, to be known by God and to know him.
When we peel off our layers, much like husking corn under a late summer sun, the ripe kernels of our inner anatomy are what God wants to reveal to us. And we can only peel back these layers when we become unhurried enough to let go and let God.
In short, we simply must stop the glorification of busy. Just say a vehement, “No!” to this “badge of honor”. It doesn’t take us closer to God, to each other, or to our authentic self. In fact, it takes us on a ride that carries us further from the gentle embrace of God’s love and the quiet, “You are enough” that God wants us to hear.
Unfortunately, however, it seems that over the years, we may have forgotten how to husk corn. We no longer know how to shed our skin. It feels vulnerable, and perhaps even lazy, to sit back and allow God to peel back our layers. The quiet doesn’t feel productive. Solitude doesn’t feel like an appropriate task on the never-ending list of “to-dos”.
It wouldn’t be called evolution if it happened overnight, however. It wouldn’t be called transformation unless it happens, as Alan and Gem Fadling say in What Does Your Soul Love?, “ at the pace of grace”.
This is probably also a good time to share that the first step of corn husking is that you have to decapitate the corn. This is a complete ungluing of all we have previously known, folks! And, as the name indicates, the decapitation can be quite brutal!
The good news? Decapitation is the first step. The other good news? Corn husking does not only refers to the shucking of a singular ear of corn. It can also mean the communal experience of corn husking. Thus, before you bite off the first step in the process of the journey back to you (and, simultaneously, back to God) you can most certainly gather a community of huskers to support you in the process of peeling back the layers.
How to Stop the Glorification of Busy (aka How God Shucks Corn)
So, what does it look like to shuck the layers of our inauthentic selves? How do we stop identifying as “busy” or “overwhelmed” or as having “too many irons in the pot”? Although this is certainly not the only way you can begin to peel back the layers, here is a guide that has personally been a part of my own evolution over the past several years.
1. Decapitate the corn. The first step is to (prayerfully) decide to begin. This is truly a journey between you and God. A good guide to intentional prayer about where you are at this phase in your life is to begin the work of the daily examen. You can learn more about the examen here, or by utilizing an app such as Reimagining the Examen or Pray as You Go.
2. Have a husking bee. Once you have settled the matter with God, it’s time to gather your corn husking community. This can be one or two trusted girlfriends, your spouse, a pastor, or a spiritual director. In my experience, I needed a tribe! I have about three to four trusted girlfriends who I can text and share my intentions with. These are the people who will understand how difficult it is for me to say, “No”, and who will support me when I do. These are also the people who (having my intentions on their radar) will tag me in supportive social media communities, share helpful apps, and invite me to participate in retreats of solitude and restoration. My tribe has changed my life. God has definitely worked through them to get to me until I was able to get to him on my own.
3. Take the next step. There are a lot of “next steps” you could take as you begin the “unglorification” of busy in your life; however, here are a few ideas that I think can help, no matter where you are in your spiritual journey:
Unclutter something. This could be your closet. It could be your schedule. It might be a stack of books that’s been collecting dust. The additional things in our worlds that physically take up space also decrease our mental capacity to function as fully and presently as we might like. Get rid of too many decisions in your closet, the commitment you aren’t feeling an affinity to, or the extra stuff to dust in your home. Clearing physical clutter gives you the mental capacity to be more receptive to God in the now.
Stop binging on Netflix before bed. Again, you are filling your mind with unnecessary clutter, and you’re probably binging on something that is distracting you from the presence of God. Instead, try a practice such as The Daily Office through the free app from the Mission of St. Clare (scroll down to find the appropriate download for your device). Turn your mind back to God and prepare for a restful night’s sleep. We can’t come to God fully with a tired body and mind.
Invite God into what you’re already doing. For years I have struggled with how to find God in the workplace. I do a great job of listening to my daily app as I get ready for work, and praying out loud for my students as staff as I anticipate the day ahead. The second I shut my shut truck door in the parking lot, however, it’s like I leave Jesus in the passenger seat! In a recent spiritual direction session, however, my director said, “What if you simply invite Jesus into your work day?” And guess what? It was easy to see him next to me, standing at the gate as I welcomed students onto campus each morning. That email I don’t want to respond to? What if I asked Jesus to sit with me as I write? Are you a stay-at-home mother? Ask Jesus to meet you in the living room as you pick up the mess or over the pot of mac and cheese simmering on the the stove. Ask him to greet you in your cubicle, in line at the grocery store or as you pay that dreaded bill!
It’s human nature to overcomplicate that which is truly simplistic at its root. It’s our capitalistic society that makes us feel like we need to be/do/have more in order to keep up with the Joneses. But who are the Joneses compared to Jesus? What is busy compared to the simplicity of peeling back our layers and sitting as we are before the Lord?
Linger a Little Longer
1. Take a moment and talk to God. Where are you overglorifying the concept of "busy" in your life?
2. Who are the key players you can invite to be a part of your corn husking bee?
3. What step can you take today to stop the glorification of busy in your life?