Layton Friesen: A Chicken With Its Head Cut Off

“Hi, Greg. How are you?”

“Doing well. Busy though.”

“What’s up, Donna? How’s it going?”

“Great! Busy, busy.”

“How’s the business going, Jen?”

“Not bad, but since February I’ve been running like a chicken with its head cut off. Crazy busy.”

Why do we keep reminding everyone about how busy we are? We inform whoever will listen that we are busy. Why? Of course this is mostly done in a tone of complaint, as though this busyness was inflicted on us by some bad fate.

But let’s be honest, telling someone you’re busy is like complaining about how terribly much income tax you pay. I challenge you to tell a few people you respect that you are not busy and how much you enjoy all the free time you have. For many of us, that would feel like a confession of sin—we are clearly failing to be important, trustworthy people.

We tell ourselves that we are busier than people used to be. I doubt it.

My grandfather had stuff to do when he rolled out at dawn and he did it until he lay down at night. All day long he did things: eat, work, go to town for the mail, go to brotherhood meeting, back to sleep again. Next day, repeat. He was hardworking, though he did not remind everyone that he had continuously been involved in human activity since he woke up that morning. Today we would call him busy-busy.

Perhaps we would all be happier if we just accepted the fact that life will be full and that there is nothing wrong with that. It’s okay. Humans are creatures who do stuff all day. It’s a sign that we were born onto a path and that we must go somewhere in this sojourn.

We are not created to stand in one place. We have not been wronged if life is full, nor have we been elevated as especially important people. Life takes all our time, and part of accepting our creaturelyness is learning to quit marvelling at how all day long we have things to do.

I worry, though, about that word “busy.” It sounds different than “hard-working.” To call our full slate of activities “being busy” suggests we see little meaning in our work. A man digging holes and shoveling them shut all day would tell you he is crazy busy.

Is that how we think of our jobs, schoolwork, eating, serving in church, or bathing the baby? Maybe the real problem is that we have lost the experience of working before God, and so everything becomes mere busy-work, somehow secular.

Perhaps rather than angling for some idyllic spa-like existence of rest and leisure, what I need to do is pray while I work: Pray about my work, pray in my work, and pray through my work. If my work is something I do alongside God the Divine Worker, maybe I could stop being a busy person and start being a regular ol’ hard-working guy. Life with God will take my last breath and my last bit of strength. Being workers is a good sign that we are created by a Worker.

Layton Friesen
Layton Friesen

May you have the strength to work hard and accept your lot as a human. May you give up the need to remind others of your busyness. May you “work heartily, as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23 ASV). Those who work heartily must also sleep as unto the Lord.


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