Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Two books for newlyweds

These recommendations might surprise you. They aren't the typical books one would recommend to newlyweds. However, they both discuss important issues that will affect marriage and family.

The first is Kevin DeYoung's Crazy Busy.  This book discusses a problem many seem to have: being too busy. It is a very personal book, with DeYoung using his own struggle with busyness as a platform. He is careful to emphasize that he has not figured it all out yet. It is a brief, easy read.

The book highlights seven different things that might contribute to our busyness. The last chapter is an exhortation to be in the Word. Three dangers to being overly busy are: it ruins our joy, it can rob our hearts, and third, it can cover up the rot of our souls. DeYoung is clear: busyness is a heart issue. Everyone has the same amount of time in a day, but the tendency to being too busy reflects what's going on inside.

I really liked what he said here:
Busyness is like a sin: kill it, or it will be killing you. Most of us fall into a predictable pattern. We start to get overwhelmed by one or two big projects. Then we feel crushed by the daily grind. Then we despair of ever feeling peace again and swear that something has to change. Then two weeks later life is more bearable, and we forget about our oath until the cycle starts all over again. What we don't realize is that all the while we've been a joyless wretch, snapping like a turtle and as a personally engaging as a cat. When busyness goes after joy, it goes after everyone's joy.
We cannot be fooled into thinking that as wives and mothers (or even sisters or daughters) that being overly busy won't affect other relationships. It will.

Some others who reviewed the book were disappointed by the last chapter, because it lacked a "how to fix it" section. Instead, it was suggested that to begin tackling the problem, the one thing we can do is to be in Scripture regularly. I was not disappointed by this exhortation; in fact, I thought it was wise. For him to say that he had this issued nailed down may have been very premature. DeYoung did not indicate that he had figured it all out, and finished his book in keeping with that understanding. To provide a prescription for others who battle being too busy really is not possible aside from a very general recommendation, which he gave.

The other book I would recommend is  The Organized Heart, which is by our own Staci Eastin. It dovetails nicely with DeYoung's book. Staci's book, like DeYoung's, addresses the issue from a heart perspective. Just like our tendency to take on things and become busy is a heart issue, so is how we cope with our busy lives. The heart issues which can influence our organization are perfectionism, possessions, leisure, and yes, busyness. Busyness can be why we are disorganized.

In the chapter about busyness, Staci asks the question "What does fear of man have to do with my calendar?" Plenty. Sometimes, our busyness is about being liked:
Women who agree to do too much are often driven by the desire to be liked... Fear of man indicates we find our worth in pleasing others than than pleasing God. Instead of working to bring glory to God, we hope to bring glory to ourselves.
It is crucial that our motive for taking things on is to be obedient to God's calling, and ultimately to bring Him glory, not because of the fear of men.

Sometimes, avoiding the trap of being busy is simply a matter of learning to say "no" without fearing that others will not like it. I realize that sounds simplistic, but I have been in a position where I was too busy.  There are times when it is indeed a matter of just biting the bullet and saying that two letter word.

It is much easier to prevent becoming too busy than it is to find oneself buried under, and having to climb out. This is why I would recommend these two books. They both encourage the reader to evaluate his heart. Busyness doesn't happen because we're married; the seeds are there when we get to the altar and will be brought into the marriage. Young couples can be encouraged to think about these things before they become problematic. There is a lot more to planning for marriage than putting together a wedding and setting up housekeeping.

We don't have to do it all. God doesn't expect us to. But what he does expect from us is to be good stewards of what he gives us: our homes, our families, our children, and our vocation. If we consider those things at the beginning of our married lives, it might not be so hard to manage later.

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