Do you let people down because you are too busy? (Luminous Friday)

This morning I found out I let someone down. They asked me to do something, and I meant to do it, wanted to do it, intended to do it… but never did. The demands of life got in the way. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

I think that’s a common thing we tell ourselves. The fact is, the pace of our lives leaves us less than fully present with each other. And when we are less than fully present, we play a game of relational Russian roulette. We put someone off and pull the trigger. CLICK. We get away with it. Sometimes it’s okay to be partially or wholly absent for a while. Then, unexpectedly, BANG – one of our relationships blows up because we weren’t there. Being relationally absent is the worst, most damaging kind of letdown we can perpetuate on people. It tells someone we are apathetic about them. We don’t care.

Presence-and-absence is such an important issue that I wrote three chapters on being Present in Luminous. Presence with God and other people is what the way of Jesus calls for. Presence is under assault in our culture, plagued as it is by what doctor Meyer Friedman called “hurry sickness.” I like how Rosemary Sword put together Gardner Merchant’s explanations of hurry sickness in a Psychology Today article:
By definition, hurry sickness is “a behavior pattern characterized by continual rushing and anxiousness; an overwhelming and continual sense of urgency.” As if that isn’t bad enough, it’s also defined as “A malaise in which a person feels chronically short of time, and so tends to perform every task faster and to get flustered when encountering any kind of delay.” Sound familiar?
The cure for hurry sickness is to slow down. But the point isn’t just to slow down, lower our blood pressure, and feel better. The point is that, as pastor John Ortberg points out, hurry sickness blocks our ability to love God and people. And loving God and people is what we’re here for.

So my encouragement today is to take a minute (or maybe even ten minutes if you really want to slow down) to think about where you need to be present but aren’t. You may have to take a couple of things off your task list in order to be present in those relationships. That’s okay. Tasks can wait. Be present. Be present in a self-giving (loving) way. It’s the most important thing you can do.


Note: Throughout 2014, my Friday posts will be excerpts and thoughts from Luminous: Living the Presence and Power of Jesus (IVP, 2013). My hope is that these posts launch you into the weekend in a Jesus-centered way.

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