I have always thought there was something uniquely wrong with me. Why is it that when I am unproductive, I feel un-important? Why is it that when I'm not running frantic among the frey, I feel disconnected? If I can't complain how busy I am, I am somehow not 'in' with the crowd? Since when did 'busy' become synonymous with 'valuable?'
I'm realizing more and more that it's not just me.
Many of us feel insatiably busy, frantic and disconnected. We have a love affair with productivity in the west. We love it. We need it. We idolize it. We want to be important, upwards moving, adding evermore to our repertoire of skills and abilities so that we are at the very least keeping up with the crowd, never mind soaring above it.
Anyone else out there a chronic over-achiever?
How do we get off this crazy cycle? To be honest, for me, it comes at a cost to my ego and my desire to compete. I want to be important. In fact, I want to look like I have somewhere to be and something to do. I want to be asked "how do you do it all? how do you juggle so many awesome things?" It fans the flame of my self-importance.
But, if I am alone, on a tuesday, roaming the parks and soaking in the sunshine I feel an immediate urgency to do more, like somehow the cameras of society will catch me loafing around, and call me 'lazy' or 'boring' [gasp!] Maybe that's it, we have a complete distaste for anything boring and inane. Maybe it's our entertainment culture:
"Entertain me with your stories of where you've been, what you've been doing, and do it publicly on pinterest, instagram and facebook! If you haven't been doing anything interesting, I don't want to know!"
Who wants to journey with that person who has had depression now for 5 years, who wants to meet regularly with that single mom to just check in and make sure she's okay, and who in their right mind wants to come over and help you fight for joy in another day at home with young kids? Those are not exciting, productive things, they are boring, sacrificial things that we don't have patience for.
"No thanks," we say.
Whatever is 'wrong' with our culture, is actually more a reflection of what is broken in me. Somewhere along the lines, the gods of our culture have become the god of me. I have worshipped at the throne of productivity too often.
Yet I never feel more dead than when I am living to please this god of productivity. I've been burnt out, spun out, and more alone than I've ever been. Thing is, I was made to work but working was never meant to be my salvation. Never meant to be our savior.
Truthfully, all I really want is to be known and to know others. To be loved and love others. To accept grace and give grace. And these things are not 'things' found in what I do, but found alone in the person of Jesus Christ.
We can, without fear, live life in a different posture. Not frantically searching for meaning and significance in the works of our hands. Instead, we have a choice. We can accept Jesus, as our totally sufficient savior, in whom is found our worth, our acceptance, our love, our hope, our everything. Or, we can continue feeding this lie in us that we must continue to do more in order to save ourselves.
But accepting true life results in me giving up my old one. Ouch. Don't take that promotion because all margin in my life will be gone? Don't work one day a week to have rest? Don't let my kids do just one more activity so that we can eat dinner as a family? Choose to live in a smaller house so both of us don't need to work full time? Give up my comfort, my freedom, my opportunities, so that I can feast on true love and offer it up on a shared table with my neighbors? Trust in God's plan for my life instead of making my own plan with plan b, c, and d in case His plan doesn't feel comfortable?
Ouch. Hard. But it always comes back to faith. Do I believe God saved me by the works of His hands or do I not?
See, we were made for a different sort of kingdom. One of a different kind of doing. One where the source of our doing is not from ourselves, but from Jesus. Him working through us what we cannot and could never do from ourselves: Loving the un-loveable, giving even at a cost to ourselves, dying to ourselves and giving up ourselves for others because we were and are loved in the same way.
I'm hoping to embark on a different season and have started by wrestling through some really hard decisions. I've said no to a lot lately and it hurts my ego big time. I want to say yes because the place of those things has become so great. But I am choosing to believe in the sufficiency of Christ and His work in me. I am taking steps of faith to let go of this productivity-driven personality and remember His work on the cross, instead. To know Him, to please Him, to love Him, and to allow Him to work out His salvation in me, even when every part of my flesh is fighting back and screaming to carry on in the way I always have, and in the way the culture around me has always applauded.
Be gracious, I haven't figured it all out. Not even close. In the meantime, to all that have been hurt and damaged by my need to step over you in order to achieve, I say sorry. To all I have walked past, pushed past, elbowed past and forgotten to engage with, I say sorry. To all the neighbors I could have known, to all the friends I could have called, to all the family members I have not journeyed life with because I have been too wrapped up in my need for productivity and saving face for the masses, I say sorry. Because that wasn't Christ in me, that was just me being me. Christ is so much sweeter, and so much lovelier than I am, so much more giving, so much more generous and gracious, patient and kind. He is the real deal.
I pray God has caught my attention in time so that He can, by His power, change my course. God, help me find rest in You alone. In the work you have achieved for me for your glory, not in the work I achieve for myself for my reputation.
"I'm restless, so restless, til I rest in YOU, O God."