Wednesday, June 23, 2010


Sometimes feelings of inferiority, ineffectiveness, and sheer uselessness crowd my brain. Generally, this happens after I encounter people that are smarter, better, or more productive than I am. Often, this turns into a sort of frenzied panic, stemming from the sneaking suspicion that I will live out the next 50 years simply spinning my wheels.

In the past, I've simply reacted to this by working harder and faster. I've crowded my schedule with easily completed tasks so that I can feel effective. I've over-committed so that, at the end of the day, I can feel that I accomplished something substantial. I've set difficult goals so that I can feel a sense of satisfaction at my achievements.

And the end result is.......a sense of being terribly under-slept because there really aren't enough hours in the day. Frustration because items on a to-do list or goals achieved don't necessarily make me feel fulfilled. Irritation at everyone around me who doesn't understand why I'm so tired and stressed and frustrated.

Constant communication ever at my fingertips only increases this sense of panic. And an article by Al Mohler makes me suspect that I may not be alone. Whenever a sense of boredom or a lull in my schedule seeps in, I check Facebook or my e-mail or my phone messages so that every second is filled to the max.

But it's peacemaking, not frenzied panic, for which we're supposed to strive. Rest is commanded, not a constant mental treadmill. And fear and stress are supposed to be replaced with peace.

And ever so slowly, I am learning the value of rest. George MacDonald said, "Work is not always required. There is such a thing as sacred idleness." I've finally started to realize that I don't have to simple produce and do and go and accomplish.

There is, of course, a place for hard work and diligence and accomplishments. But there's also a time to sit back and realize that, without me, the universe really will keep on spinning. God isn't waiting on me to accomplish His purposes for the rest of humanity. And I'm not as crucial to the rest of the world as I like to think.


Anonymous said...

Emily, dear, thanks so much for the reminder. That's definitely a lesson that I've been learning this past year, and one that I will probably have to continue to learn.

Three cheers for type A!

Emily said...

It's definitely one of those two-steps-forward-one-step-back kind of things. hahaha. Oh well.

Monica Jacobson said...

Yesss... If only for the sake of your spouse or children. You don't want your spouse to feel like he only deserves a few stolen moments of leisure and relaxation, or perhaps that you simply don't have enough time for him, because you are too driven.

And for your kids, leisure is an important part of developing the imagination. If you are too driven, you might find yourself driving your children too hard, or perhaps they simply have to pursue their leisure surreptitiously. Heh, believe me, I know. I have a very driven mother, and she surprises me more every day with the massive amount of things she can get done. However, her idea of a good time and relaxation is to work, which certainly never matched with our idea of relaxation. ;-) We spent many an afternoon hiding behind our beds with a book so she couldn't find us for her projects. *cough* (We came if she called, mind.)

That said, you don't necessarily have that problem, and I have the opposite problem. I'm not driven enough, woe unto me. Unfortunately, I also have a guilt complex, so I feel guilty all the time, but not driven enough to make anything but small changes. :-) But people like you and my mother always make me aspire to be better.

Emily said...


I think you're definitely right!! It's so easy to get caught up in simply getting things done to the neglect of actually spending quality time with others.

I have the same problem with guilt..."I'm just sitting here...I should be doing something constructive..." Sometimes it's a positive drive, but sometimes it's not.

I think regardless of what end of the spectrum you're on, the magic's always in balancing out the extremes of one's nature (mine would be never stopping!!). People like you make me try to be more laid-back.;-)

Struggler said...

Well said. Sometimes, when I'm overwhelmed by my to-do list, I realize it's me who has put 90% of the items on there.
And I recently heard the view that our time is limited but the demands on it our limitless - in other words, everything will never fit in a day and we have to get smarter choosing what we do...