What We Learned From A Year Without Going to Church: Busyness and Self-Awareness

This is a continuation of the series “What We Learned From a Year Without Church

Click to visit other posts in the series.  Part 1: Worship Services and Relationships | Part 3: Communication and Control

Busyness Can Be Destructive

From the outset, I want to acknowledge that everyone is busy to some degree. We all have demands put on our time and we are all required to say ‘Yes’ to one thing and ‘No’ to another.  There is even a sense in our culture today in which busyness communicates to others increased an responsibility or social worth. For example, wouldn’t we all rather choose to seem busy to the world than bored?

So, busyness is not necessarily the issue as people will be busy from time to time and we often cannot change our situation to become less busy. The issue then is not being busy itself but what we let busyness do to us.

Children

When we had our first child, we went from mild busyness to inexpressibly exhausting busyness. Anyone who has had a child knows there is really no way to prepare someone for that shift except to give them a couple of pats on the back and a loud, ‘See ya on the flip side!’ Friends stop hearing from you like they used to, you can’t go out all the time anymore, you miss out on TV shows you used to watch, you don’t go to the gym as much, you skip on getting haircuts because of lack of time… and so on.  It’s hectic and busy because you are busy just trying to keep a small human alive.

Today, we have two kids who are 4 and 7. Theoretically, we should be a chaotic messy group of dazed and confused people who are unable to do anything…ever! That is not the case though – at least I don’t think so. If we were literal about it, adding a second child should make us doubly busy but that doesn’t happen. Why?

Well, you grow up. You learn to prioritize and focus on what is good to focus on and leave behind what is not. You start to evaluate what ‘good thing’ out of a myriad of ‘good things’ gets your attention. Every good project manager or business owner knows this is half of the battle of having a successful business – learning what to say no to.

The Church

What does this have to do with the church you might be asking. My experience has been that while some may experience their lives as busier than others, whether it is true or not, it actually doesn’t really matter. Whether people commit to being part of a home church or traditional church does not have anything to do with how busy they are. It has everything to do with how they perceive their busyness and how they allow it to affect them.

Yes, there might be some time constraints and it may be difficult to do but that isn’t in itself a reason to not do it. If that were true, no one would ever have kids! Having kids is hard, time-consuming, frustrating, some time mind-bendingly busy.  It’s also beautiful, fulfilling, maturing, and ultimately worth every busy minute. So, we decided to have kids. And it’s been totally worth it.

Busyness won’t keep you from being the church and committing to people who are, but your perception of your busyness will.

Self-Awareness is a Necessary Skill

Ever hear the saying, “Everyone has a crazy friend. And if you don’t know who that is… it’s probably you”? This is self-unawareness in action and I am convinced it destroys relationships and churches everywhere.

Self-awareness is the ability of a person to understand how they see, operate, and function in the world. Being healthy in regards to self-awareness means understanding why you believe what you believe, react the way you react, why you say what you say, and do what you do. It’s understanding your past and how it affects who you are today. It’s working toward the healing of past traumas that can continue to harm you and others years later. Some people operate out of a healthy self-awareness, a good understanding and practice of what I mentioned above, or an unhealthy self-awareness, a bad understanding of the above. In our lives, we have met people who were both and we have been both

I believe while some are pre-disposed to being a bit more self-aware, it is ultimately a skill that everyone can be taught to be better at. If I was as self-aware as I was when I was 15 I would be in some serious trouble. Unfortunately, that is not far from reality for some grown adults we might encounter today. Everyone suffers because of it.

Awareness in The Church

Now, this is a large and valuable topic that I could talk about at length about but for the sake of this post, I will focus on the same question I asked before: How does this relate to the church? Imagine for a moment what could go wrong with gathering a bunch of self-unaware and hurt people together and asking them to commit to deep relationships with each other? I don’t have to tell you that it can be chaotic.

Even though it can be chaotic and hurtful, it surprisingly is the means to health, wholeness, and forgiveness. Part of the mission of the church is to bring people to a God-orientated and healthy understanding of self and our place in the world.  This is why I believe self-awareness causes 50% of the strife that is experienced in the church because, as we know, “Hurt people, hurt people.” Well, self-aware people help people become aware of self. And God-orientated people help orientate people to God. People who are not self-aware point to a broken version of themselves and people get hurt. And so the cycle goes.

John Calvin in the Institutes of the Christian Religion explained that you can’t know God without knowing yourself, and you can’t know yourself without knowing God. If that is true, and the church that functions well together is the greatest tangible expression of Jesus, the reality is you cannot become self-aware without the church. In fact, the belief that you can become self-aware outside the help of others and the church is actually an indicator of self-unawareness and unhealth. One of the greatest lies we have believed is that we are good on our own and we generally don’t need people’s help. It’s not true. It’s destructive. And it kills the relationships and churches today.

Self-awareness is a means to freedom and free people help free people.

 

This is a continuation of the series “What We Learned From a Year Without Church

Click to visit other posts in the series.  Part 1: Worship Services and Relationships  | Part 3: Communication and Control

Greg Smith

Blogging about faith, life, church, and everything in between.

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