In Others’ Words: Barren is … as Barren Does …

A busy life. Socrates. 2015

Sometimes when I tell another person how oh-so-very busy I am … well, I’m hoping they don’t hear the hint of pride in my voice.

I’m a busy, busy person. That must mean I have a life worth living … a life of significance … that oh, maybe, I’m important somehow?

(And now I’m shaking my head as I think: You’re really going to admit that awful truth here? Don’t you want to use that DELETE key?!?)

But I’m not cleaning up this blog post. Nope. I value honesty — y’all know that by now. And the truth is I also know busyness does not equal significance. Not even close. The busier I get, the more I can lose track of the very things I value the most. The busier I get, the more I can lose myself.


Long before the birth of Christ (BC), Socrates was philosophising about busyness and how it can wring our souls out and leave us empty. Generations before the Internet and Facebook and Twitter and DirectTV and IMAX and telecomuting and the “sandwich generation” and parental peer pressure (although I think that’s been around since Adam and Eve) — all the things that creates busy for us … there was the black hole of barrenness left in the wake of being too busy.

The question is: When faced with the WARNING, WARNING, WARNING … how do we stop all the BUSY, BUSY, BUSY?

For me, it’s perfecting the simple word, “No” — saying it and meaning it, no matter how someone else responds. It’s knowing that a wise woman knows her limitations — and that I can’t do it all and be true to myself, my values, and still have breathing space in my life.

In Your Words: How do you stop the BUSY, BUSY, BUSY and avoid the barrenness?

With thanks to my writing friend, Laura McClellan, who shared this quote with me.

[Tweet “In Others’ Words: Barren is … as Barren Does #InOthersWords #Lifequotes #Socrates”] [Tweet “”Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” #lifequotes #Socrates #busyness “]



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  1. susan
    February 25, 2015, 5:23 am   /  Reply

    Thanks for you honesty, Beth. I think many of us can relate:) This is a trap I’ve fallen into, and I’ve had to learn to say the word “no”. Even “good busy” can lead to barren if it’s not the “good busy” God wants for us.

    • February 25, 2015, 4:47 pm   /  Reply

      Yes, Susan. That’s the trickiness of it all: the “good” busy is so deceiving we get swept up into it and right past what God wants for us — and what we really value most.

  2. February 25, 2015, 7:20 am   /  Reply

    My problem isn’t saying no to other people, it’s saying no to myself. I am trying to train myself to automatically say, “let me pray about this” even for things I really want to do. And then I do. God will let you know what He wants you to do–then it’s up to me to listen. Which I don’t always do. :-/

    • February 25, 2015, 4:49 pm   /  Reply

      Wise insight, Pat. Open doors — alluring open doors — why they must be automatic yesses, right?

  3. Loree Huebner
    February 25, 2015, 8:56 am   /  Reply

    Love your heart on this one, Beth. I find it hard to say no, but I’m getting better at it. This is a busy world. We’re pulled in 5 different directions. Sometimes it’s almost too much. We get nearly crazy and…empty.
    Excellent post.

    • February 25, 2015, 4:50 pm   /  Reply

      The emptiness is what causes the biggest ache, Loree. Getting to the end of the day, the week, the years … my life … and realizing I chose w-r-o-n-g because I chose too, too much.

  4. February 25, 2015, 11:59 am   /  Reply

    Going through the Morning Fr\om Hell here…mortgage company lost some payments, vomiting blood, that sort of thing.

    Just do what you do.

    Don’t worry about it. Life is hard enough as is.

    • February 25, 2015, 4:51 pm   /  Reply

      Yes, Andrew … and then there are the days it’s all put into perspective.
      I am beyond sorry you have so many of them.
      Praying for you.

      • February 25, 2015, 5:37 pm   /  Reply

        Thanks, Beth. Only thing I care about is that we don’t lose the house. House goes, dogs go, and I go.

  5. February 25, 2015, 12:35 pm   /  Reply

    What Pat said. I don’t say no very often. I usually manage to fit in interesting new projects, but I am thinking a bit more about each new item I add to the equation.

    • February 25, 2015, 4:52 pm   /  Reply

      You and I have discussed this before — and yes, you are the Great Adventurer in my book, Dee. 🙂

  6. February 25, 2015, 3:09 pm   /  Reply

    Oh Beth. This post so hit me where I live. The affirmation of busy-ness, and the way it chokes the life-breath from my spirit. Since my One Word for the year is BREATHE, I’m learning to say no. To pray for direction so that I know the difference between God’s best for me and life’s good for me. Breathing and growing = significance in my book. This isn’t always easy to live out, but I’m learning to choose this path.

    GREAT post.

    • February 25, 2015, 4:53 pm   /  Reply

      Exactly so, Jeanne. In the barren place there is no breathing space …

  7. February 25, 2015, 7:24 pm   /  Reply

    Beth, I haven’t forgotten about your blog. Just wanted to make sure you know that. I’ve been reading them, but I’ve been busy proofreading lately. A good busy and not barren at all.

    I avoid barrenness in the midst of busyness by choosing to be busy with things that move me toward my goals, shape me into a better person, or help other people. By focusing on the things that are important and vital to my life and the plans God has for me, reaping fruit instead of barrenness is the only option I see. Sure, some days this intense focus doesn’t happen and the busy work of life jumps in the way. But then I take a moment to sit with God and relax in His presence, recharging for the next round of making choices based upon what He shares with me in those shared seconds, minutes, (dare I hope for) hours. Such is the cycle of my life.

    Blessings and big hugs.

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