This week, I’ve struggled with not feeling productive. I’ve been surprisingly busy for not having a job, but I don’t feel like I’ve been productive. By this point in my sabbatical, I expected to have the closets cleaned out, bank statements reconciled, the house re-organized, etc. Those are the kind of things that feel productive to me. Even though I’ve only been on this sabbatical for a mere 6 business days, I’ve already had to adjust the expectations I’m placing on myself. There are still dirty dishes in the sink; I continue to ignore my mail; there still don’t seem to be enough hours in the day. And I feel guilty – now I have no excuse for these things remaining undone. Perhaps work wasn’t always the culprit deserving so much of the blame.
However, I also need this period of rest for myself. And I need to be okay with that instead of feeling anxious and guilty. I’m trying to learn how to be still and listen to God. I’m trying to learn the concept of “being” instead of “doing”…and knowing that I’m still a valuable person even when I’m not doing. For those of you who know me, you realize this is very difficult for me. Even writing that sentence seemed foreign to me…of course you have to DO something to be valuable. That falsehood is our form of control. It’s also one of the ways that we push God out of our lives. We start to believe that we can do it ourselves, and we forget that our Creator gave us the gifts we’re using and the life we’re living. I realize that busyness can get in the way of my relationship with God. This is obviously not a new concept, but I have recognized that it can take many forms…not just our job/career/work. It can be the amount of time we spend online, the volunteer work that we do, the people with whom we choose to spend our time, etc. These are not bad things – some of them are very good and essential – but they keep us busy and can distract us from listening to God.
Does God really want a bunch of “productive” followers? Probably not in the way that I usually define the word. I may feel productive if all of the dishes are clean, the laundry is done, the bills are paid, and everything else is completely in order…but am I really fulfilling my purpose if I’ve ignored God and ignored people in the process? Would He rather my day take the form of a “to do” list, or would he rather that I follow Him? I’m counting on the latter, but I’m still learning how to let go of my “to do” lists and redefine productivity.