My most-used word of 2006 (and probably 2005) is “Busy.”
Some Christian preachers call it “Being Under Satan’s Yoke”, which is quite plausible if you treat work or other commitments as an ‘idol’ (ie, worship it) and rank it higher in your priorities than God. Things get a little greyer when you feel you’re doing a public service, or helping family members out, and have to give some God or church-related event a miss.
Previously, my abandoning family/social events, and forgoing concerts and courses just to attend regular bible study classes made me feel miserable. In the eyes of non-believers, they felt, “What religion is this, that it can be so inflexible?” I had plenty of explaining to do, and even more internalising within myself. I was a young Christian who was torn in between.
Alternatively, when we forgo God-related events, we may say, “But I had no choice! I was ordered by boss/family member/girlfriend/boyfriend” to do it!” In many cases, refusal means losing your job or pissing off other people who are important in your life. Or you actually feel that your presence is so needed that everything will fall apart if you aren’t involved in it. Strictly speaking, you do have the choice but it is very difficult to reject people’s requests because it will give you a load of trouble in future.
We have to strike a balance between the things of this world and God’s things. I believe that sometimes God intends for you to spend time with others and not have to adhere so rigidly to a schedule that you lose all sense of relationships with other people. On the other extreme, there is also the danger of idolising the ACT of worshipping God. This can be a temptation especially when playing in a worship band, where you focus on the technicalities instead of focusing on God. Or when administrating a team of people, where you get lost in politics and forget the real reason why the team was formed in the first place.
This year, I’ve postponed numerous meetups with old friends, and missed at least three friends’ baby showers (note: these are fairly good friends). For the first time, I missed a dinner appointment with a group of old friends, and it made me feel really crappy and irresponsible. That’s not the end of it. I will not be able to help at my good friend’s wedding later this month, because I have very heavy family commitments. The family commitment is even more important – it’s my grandpa’s 80th birthday and it will be one super bash, entertained by yours truly. Singing, dancing, slideshow… rehearsals… you get my drift.
Don’t even get me started on my jazz band. My drummer quit. He didn’t tell me formally or respond to emails or sms to confirm the fact, so I could at least stop waiting around and actively search for a new drummer. The band’s my lowest priority now, sorry to say. My bassist and second keyboardist have been angels and they don’t deserve to get stalled in this situation. We’ve found a talented drummer but he too is in a few other more happening bands so there’s no guarantee he can stay for the long term. (Is it a trend among us younger Singaporeans to be perpetually busy?)
I’ve over-committed myself in my work and social life, and I’m not afraid to admit it now as that will help you understand my constraints. Because I’ve spread myself out so thin, little quality time is spent with people and that sucks. Performing acts of service for people feels like an obligation now, because there is so little time and so much to do. Quality time and acts of service are not my languages of love but I realise for some loved ones, they are. I’m not showing the love. I have to say NO to many things now. No, No and No. I’ll look bad now but at least I won’t pull out halfway or end up doing a shoddy job.
Also, I miss being free. Free to think. Free from the ‘slavery’ of obligations which strike dread and fear within me. It’s when I’m free to think that my real ideas come out. Somehow out of nothing I have to carve out some quiet time with God; to read new books and reflect on everything.
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  1. Kevin

    I know what you mean… when I’m busy the first thing I do is to turn down all other offers. That said, you have a band?!? When you get your act together (no pun intended), I have to check you out. Combining your dry sense of humor with some rock music might raise the dead, but it suits me fine 😛

  2. hendrick

    The time is 3:45am in the morning, and I am still staying @ McDonalds to do my work, and is supposed to be my day-off! So I think I understand what you are going through eh…anyhow, I usually “steal some time” in my busiest moment to spend quiet moments with God, reading and reflecting on His Words, and God never fails to renew me. When things get tougher, more time is needed before God. That’s the tip! God Bless!

  3. PC

    Hey Van!
    I think it’s God’s blessing that you have so many old friends/good friends who enjoy your company and want to spend time with you. So don’t feel stressed or bad about spreading yourself too thin. Your friends will still be there for you after this busy stretch. Take care.

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