Work. Travel. Meetings. Plans. More Work. More meetings. Away on weekends. Flat Out.
I have definitely not had time to smell the roses.
And it seems, for me anyways, that reflection and solitude are always the first victims of my busy schedule.
Usually, I don’t see the cracks starting to appear until even a couple of months into the hectic chaos of keeping this kind of a pace. But even when I can’t see them, they fissure and split and widen. And then they show. And sometimes it’s pretty bad.
My capacity for wise, tempered and discerning decision making flies out the window.
The quality of my relationships thin – with God and with others.
I get irritable. Cranky. Unpredictable.
Off-kilter. Unbalanced. Bright Red Flags.
All because I’ve not given myself time to come down. To rest. To write and to reflect.
And here’s the amazing thing! All these busy activities – work and meetings and travel and plans with friends – are all good in and of themselves. But at some point it becomes too much. And I crack. I feel pressure to work hard. And a lot. To demonstrate my commitment to my calling through out of office hours and extra work.
So here’s my million dollar question: Can this become idolatry?
When my job becomes my god and my performance at work becomes my measure of success, does that not violate 2 of the first 3 Ten Commandments? (no other gods and sabbath).
The 2 million dollar question then, is how then shall we live? There will always be performance expectations – and rightly so. I do believe in working hard. Pursuing excellence. Worship. But how do we make sure that Pursuing Excellence never gets twisted and warped into something ugly? Into striving. Into rushing, rushing, rushing with no time to pause and reflect?
I guess that’s why Sabbath is so important. And that’s where I’ve failed. God knows us. He knows our strivings. Our propensity to either work too little or too much. To make good things objects of worship. To make the good things in our lives our gods.
And that’s why He commands us to shabbat – to cease. To stop.
Nouwen of course has brilliant things to say about this:
“Discipline means to prevent everything in your life from being filled up. Discipline means that somewhere you’re not occupied, and certainly not preoccupied. In the spiritual life, discipline means to create that space in which something can happen that you hadn’t planned or counted on…
There are many other voices speaking—loudly: “Prove that you are the beloved.” “Prove you’re worth something.” “Prove you have any contribution to make.” “Do something relevant.” “Be sure you make a name for yourself.” “At least have some power—then people will love you; then people will say you’re wonderful, you’re great.”
These voices are so strong in this world. These were the voices Jesus heard right after he heard “You are my beloved.” Another voice said, “Prove you are the beloved. Do something. Change these stones into bread. Be sure you‘re famous. Jump from the temple, and you will be known. Grab some power so you have real influence. Don’t you want some influence? Isn’t that why you came?”
Jesus said, “No, I don’t have to prove anything. I am already the beloved.”(Moving from Solitude to Community to Ministry)
I suppose that’s my challenge. To take these things seriously. To listen. And to rearrange my life in such a way that solitude informs my relationships and my work and not the other way around.