I struggle to be unproductive. I sit still to rest, but I work my mind, moving only to turn the pages of the book which engages it or to write down the things it reminds me to do. While I may procrastinate one thing (like I wrote about here), I’m never completely idle and am always filling my mind to turn my thoughts.
I purpose this—unless it’s after 10 p.m. In this case, I resent the result of my practice. In most cases, however, I find rest in the moving of the mind inside the unmoving body. My mind experiences the world with Jane Austen, imagines the adventures of Harry Potter, sharpens in theology by Thomas Watson, or encounters God in scripture—all of which serve to enhance my life. My mind may also contemplate a weekly meal plan or activities for my children or specific needs in the church—all of which serve my family or church body and all of which bring me much joy.
Yet sometimes it’s less about the enjoyment of my productivity and more about the prohibition of enjoyment. My husband pulls the Kindle from my hands like tug-of-war to persuade me to watch a show with him. My toddler begs me like a sad puppy to go outside with her. My infant pulls at my ankles to get me to look at him and lifts his arms with the hope I’ll pick him up. And guests have to ask me to sit down or if they can help with anything as I run around moving things, wiping things, and washing things. I’m always in the business of doing because when I’m not, I feel guilty.
I suppress my own pleasure to remain productive. And sometimes when I do this, it only affects me. Yet when we say no over and over to the mom who asks for a play date or to the spouse who wants to watch a movie or to the daughter who begs to race in the grass, not only do we miss out on enjoying that thing with them, but we also inhibit them from enjoying it with us.
The Need To Be Still
Perhaps the biggest issue of my reluctance to be still and enjoy is my reluctance to be still with God. Psalm 46:10 invites us to “be still and know” that God is God. This requires us to stop—and think and meditate—and give the necessary response of worship to him. To do this, our mind must stop gathering new information—to listen to God maybe or to contemplate what’s already there. Yet in my attempts to keep my mind working, I constantly feed it with something—whether it’s words from a book or the audio of a podcast or even scripture.
These things may better my mind, but if I don’t stop the constant moving from line to line or sound to sound will it significantly impact my heart and soul the way it should? Will it produce what’s necessary to worship him fully? Does it help me love and enjoy God and bring me joy—the type of joy that makes him most satisfied in me when I am most satisfied in him?
Finding Pleasure In Both
How vital productivity is though! The Bible certainly condones work and condemns laziness. We do all as if we are doing it for the Lord. And in that we should find pleasure and not mere duty. If we dedicate our work as unto the Lord, knowing it pleases him, how could it not please us as well?
If we begin to seek to find pleasure in our pleasing God in our productivity, perhaps we’ll become more open to allowing ourselves to find pleasure in other things as well—in our stillness, with our loved ones, and what’s not our duty.