So lately I've been thinking about a few things and I'd like to process them "out loud" for a bit. Bear with me, or simply close this tab, it's that easy.
So my thoughts are these.
I think the biblical narrative, the spiritual life, and the church could have something really valuable to say in response to the cultural narrative of running around like a chicken with your head cut off, aka, success.
Let's be clear. I don't think that the church usually does say a lot of helpful things in response to this narrative, but I think it could. Often the church (very broadly defined) does an amazing job of adding to the busyness, affirming workaholism and over-programming. And I know we've all heard this repeatedly but...I don't know. It just doesn't seem to have made a difference yet.
I've heard a zillion sermons, talks, reflections, messages or whatever you want to call them about how we're all too busy. About how the biggest challenge in our churches is busyness. About how we all waste time online and miss out on time with family and friends. About how we now live for our holidays instead of living for our vocations. But what I'm usually hearing is the lament. The lament that we're stuck in this system of busyness, lament that things are not as they should be. And lament is good, lament is awesome. I'm all about lamenting and weeping and wailing and sack cloth and ashes (biblical garments of mourning for those unfamiliar with the analogy). Grieving is important. But I wonder if we're ready to move to the next step now. The step called finding another way. The step that involves embracing hope and naming what could be and then soaring into that glorious and risky space that might lead us to a new normal.
And I do think that the biblical narrative, the spiritual life, and the church can help us to do this. And since I'm still at the point of just thinking this through, I'm not going to do some organized treatment of each of these, but really, I just have some thoughts. Some ideas that my faith tradition offers me that inspire me and give me hope.
1. My worth is determined by the fact that I was created. In and of myself, I am good. What this means is that I'm not earning my worth. It doesn't matter how hard I work or how much money I earn or how much notoriety I get, I am simply good and valued. Being busy, doesn't make me a better or more lovable person (quite the opposite in fact!).
2. I am being invited to live into a particular life. A life that is particular because of who I have been created to be. That means I don't have to do everything. Even if I want to be a well-rounded person. I am simply invited to nurture who I am, not some super human individual who is gifted at everything, even if that's how our systems want to reward us (governor general's award anyone?). And not all opportunities are worth accepting. Some things really deserve a solid "no" so that something else can receive a resounding "YES!"
3. I am invited to work and to rest. I have been created to do awesome things. To contribute in amazing ways to the world with my gifts and talents. To share with my fellow sisters and brothers. To give of my time and my energy and then to stop. STOP, STOP, STOP. Not once a year when I finally fall apart at my three-week vacation (and get ridiculously sick), but every single day and every single week. I have been created to sleep, and to Sabbath. To rest at night, and to rest one day a week in order to remember that I am not a slave to work. Resting both reminds me that I need rejuvenation, and it reminds me that my work is a gift, not a punishment. And I know that sleep and Sabbath will look different at different stages of life, but the point is, we simply have to stop sometimes.
4. I am not alone. We are created to be in community and my most cherished community is my church family. Within the church, we can encourage one another as we make choices. The kind of choices that are sometimes really really hard (leaving jobs that are draining, moving to a smaller house, stepping down from a committee, enrolling children in fewer programs, actually taking a Sabbath day, going car-free). The choices that might lead people to say we are lazy, or unproductive, or not offering our families the opportunities that they deserve, or living up to our potential or whatever.
5. I am not alone. Yeah, I know, I said that already. But this is the accountability part. It's the part where a member of my congregation points out that I'm emailing them on a Monday, when I should be taking the day off. This part is really important too. And really awesome.
So like I said, these ideas give me hope, hope that inspires me to move out of lament and into imagining a different way. It's time to put away my sack cloth and ashes and make some change. I can't dismantle our entire system of success and busyness, but I can at least change my little corner of it.