Busyness

There was once a common expression, “Idle hands are the devil’s playthings.” I understand the genesis of the expression and recognize that there are numerous Biblical passages that warn against idleness. (E.g. Proverbs 19:15; 1 Timothy 5:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:14)

But, in our times, I think is it might be more accurate to say that busy hands are the devil’s (or, to use Ignatius’s terms, the enemy spirit’s) playthings.

I’ve had conversations with two people over the last several weeks that were very similar. Both are people seeking to determine where they are being called by God in the next phase of their lives; they are both people to whom God and God’s plan matters. As I asked the questions one might ask oneself in discerning vocation, for example, what brings you joy, the response in one case was, “I’m so busy I don’t even have time to think about that question,” and in the other, “It has been so long since I’ve even thought about what I want or what makes me happy. I just have too much on my plate.”

I can imagine the “enemy spirit” cackling with delight at such statements.

When we let our days get too busy, we crowd out the space we need to remember who we are with God. We cease to make intentional choices about how we can best use our time and just let ourselves get carried along in the waves of our busyness.

It is possible to be too busy. And I think very many people are these days. We could use a little more idleness.