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    Load Upon Load Upon Load

    April 17, 2006 by Brandy Vencel

    Busyness is a plague. This might sound harsh, but I truly believe it. I am often reminded of the words of the Preacher in Ecclesiastes: “Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun.” Each generation seems to become busier and busier, and to what end? We have more divorces, less intimate relationships, less spare time, worse health, less energy…

    Shortly before our wedding day, Si and I read Deuteronomy 24:5 which states, “When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.” We took to heart that God had found it especially important to protect the first year of a marriage from a husband’s absence. We chose to commit to very few activities, and almost all of those were activities we could share together. We did not allow the stuff of life to physically separate us from each other. And we were able to nurture the new relationship that God had blessed us with. We learned to rejoice in a small, calm life.

    I am a young mom, so I like sit back and watch the families in my church. They are my case studies, and I share my observations with Si and we try to learn from it all. Let me tell you something I have observed.

    Behind us at Sunday evening service sits a family with eight children {the oldest is 11 and the youngest a brand new baby}. These are some of the sweetest, most well-behaved children I have ever met. The parents are very peaceful, and so is their home. They do not rush from activity to activity, and they are often available to welcome young families {like ours} for a mid-week meal. These children literally glow when they tell a person how much they enjoy sharing a room with their siblings or the adventure they had while playing in the front yard that day. Their home is full of people, and full of industriousness, but I would never call it “busy.”

    Some of the other moms in the church look at this large family with a bit of shrouded disdain. I have overheard their comments. They think that the mother must be completely overwhelmed {if they do not know her}, and predict that this family’s life must be very hectic because they have so many children.

    The interesting thing is what I’ve observed about these families that criticize the large family. They have fewer children, but those children have attitude and discipline problems — they are rude and unfriendly and almost completely unable to interact with anyone outside their own age group. Many were shuffled off to daycare at 6-weeks of age, and no one has ever looked back. The mother works. The father works. The kids go to school and to after-school care and to dance, baseball, football, soccer, piano lessons, guitar lessons, volleyball, not to mention time with friends, etc., etc., etc.. These families never see each other, do not know each other, and it shows. They call our church asking for counselling, but they do not have enough spare time to go to the appointment.

    I’ve written before about the impact of birth control on our society’s thinking about children. The modern families look at the large family and assume the children make life busy and burdensome because they don’t realize that it isn’t people that make life busy. It’s stuff. And stuff, in fact, means we don’t have time for people. And the parents who have a lot of stuff in their lives will feel out of control and overwhelmed whether they have one child or ten.

    I didn’t want to make this posting all about child training, but I find myself drawn to the subject because this is where busyness shows its most obvious effects. I firmly believe that these crazy-busy parents could be great {even strict and disciplined!} parents when they are with their children, but still have little-to-no impact to show for it because they are not with their children the majority of the time. One cannot decide to spend Saturdays training one’s child and think this will be helpful. Ask an Olympian. Training is one of the primary images the Bible uses in regards to rearing children, and training is a lifestyle; it is all day, every day until the goal is reached.

    Busyness has other consequences, too. The busy people I know tend to be complainers because they feel {and are!} burdened. Busy people tend to work themselves to the point of health troubles. Busy families eat at McDonald’s rather than home. Busy families hire a gardener, housekeeper, pool guy, dog poop removal service, and soon no one has learned to invest in or take responsibility for the home life on any level.

    Home is not a place where people should be “just passing through.” Home should not be a dark empty house with a porch light on. Home should not be lifeless. And yet this is exactly the sort of “home” that busyness encourages.

    I know there will be times in life when I am busier than others.

    Busyness is not about getting the right things done. It’s about doing things. Lots of things. Probably too many things. Busyness makes profligate use of your two least replenishable resources–time and energy–and provides a return that, in the investment world, would be grounds for firing your broker. Yet in the absence of a sound investment strategy, busyness happens by default.
    –Fortune Magazine

    But I am learning that I must always remember that busyness is a choice. And those choices need to be filtered through God’s Word. I need to always identify the load God requires me to carry. Then, I need to make sure that I can still fulfill those responsibilities if I add something that is optional to that load. In the business world this would be called strategizing.

    Here is a practical example: I recently met a young wife who has an internship all day, works some nights, and on the nights she doesn’t work she has class. This young couple is almost literally never together. Since God commands her to love her husband in Titus 2, and says in Malachi 2:16 that He hates divorce, and says in Genesis 2:18 that she was created to help her husband, these optional loads that she has agreed to carry might need to be dispensed with, so that she has time to live life with her husband.

    Spending the bulk of one’s time living out the specific commands God has for us will bring about a harvest of peace and love within the family {no matter how big or how small}. If extra “stuff” is introduced, and it reaches that level of critical mass where it detracts from the ability to continue whole-heartedly living in obedience, one will begin to reap the negative consequences in their relationships or health, etc. God’s Word can gives one a “sound investment strategy” for one’s time and energy resources.

    I do not mean to say that the optional “stuff” is sinful or unacceptable. It’s not wrong for me to take my son down and hire someone to teach him to swim. And I cannot accurately judge whether someone else is doing too much. Some people can juggle more balls than others. However, I need to guard against crossing the line where the “stuff” takes over my life. Swimming lessons are great. But swimming, gymnastics, and piano all in one day does not give me sufficient time to ensure that I am the primary influence over my child. A hobby is great. But those men who are working all week and then leave their wives all day every Saturday to golf or hunt or whatnot might need to ask themselves if they are truly able to love their wife “as Christ loved the Church” with that sort of schedule.

    Jesus said that His load is easy and His burden is light. When I’m feeling the weight of the world on my shoulders, I know that it is just that: the weight of the world. It’s time to remember my freedom and return to the basics.


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  • Reply Kimbrah December 30, 2006 at 8:21 pm


    I have been re-reading your birth control posts and links because we have come to a point where we are really thinking about where we want to take our family and I am just looking into everything.

    I felt like I needed to comment on this post because of the last two comments by Kris and you. I did not have the opportunity to be raised by great parents. I have a very godly dad who did the best that he could with our situation, and for that I am eternally grateful. But for the most part, Eddie and I are learning this whole parenting thing on our own.

    What I have found is that I appreciate the bad lessons that I learned from childhood soooo much! When I feel my anger rising at whatever situation is presented to me, because I have experienced what happens when a parent crosses the line, I know where my line is that I WILL NOT CROSS. It makes me feel more secure. It makes me lean more on Christ and less on those around me. I appreciate all of the people that God has brought onto my life to show me how to do it correctly, but I feel like it is easier to lean on His word and leading because it is what I have always had to do.

    I am really glad that you guys had great parents. Praise God. But praise God for lousy parents, too.

  • Reply Brandy April 18, 2006 at 3:24 pm

    Kris, I’ve been thinking about your comment (since I didn’t have time to reply until now), and I was observing that busyness and idleness seem to coexist (at least in my own life), in the sense that the busier I am the less I seem to accomplish. My hectic days consist of more time wasted than they do anything else. :/

    By the way, isn’t it nice to have parents who gave us a good foundation? I find myself saddened when I observe those who didn’t have the opportunities we had, and it seems like a great struggle for them to discover how God would have them parent. I find I am in the stage of gratitude mixed with examination, where we are trying to identify where things should be trimmed back or eliminated, and what should be added as well, so that our kids get an even better starting-point than we had. 🙂

  • Reply kris April 17, 2006 at 8:18 pm

    It’s interesting to think of both busyness and idleness. Two extremes, neither desirable. I am appreciative that my parents were so diligent about teaching us the principle of balance. I’m not a mother yet, but your postings often cause me to think of my own parents with gratitude. Like I said with the housework help, I am very blessed. And I trust that their good parenting will kick in as a good default mode (a place to begin) when I do my own parenting. I hope! =)

  • Reply Brandy April 17, 2006 at 6:38 pm


    I know how it works at your place!


  • Reply Comedyken April 17, 2006 at 6:06 pm

    What is the telephone number for the dog poop pick up service?

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