I have occasionally pictured myself in my later years. In my version, I am cheerful and lighthearted, at peace with a life well lived and the advent of this closing chapter. Although the years have perhaps slowed me down, I hold court from my easy chair, surrounded by my books and my loved ones who cherish the moments of laughter, wisdom and encouragement they experience in my presence. There is even the tiniest, most minuscule of chances, in the maturity of my golden years, I have embraced my naturally silver tresses and quit coloring my hair.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I sustained a knee injury a couple of weeks ago. While it could have been much worse, I am still hobbled and it appears I may be slowed down for a while longer. Thanks to the miracles of modern medicine and a harrowing visit to the MRI monster, I now have a diagnosis and a plan. A plan, thankfully, that does not involve surgery.
So, here I sit. In my easy chair. Or on the back porch. With my computer and my books and my journal and my loved ones. A preview of my old age scenario, right? A respite from my busy life. An opportunity to read, write, organize my inbox, take deep breaths, and be still.
Cheerful and lighthearted? Not so much.
I feel responsible for the things that need to be done that I can not do. I feel guilty that my hardworking husband is having to pick up the slack. I am frustrated by the hassle and pain of the simplest task. Have you ever tried to carry a cup of coffee across the room on crutches? I make a little progress, but then I do too much and my knee swells up like a giant, painfully bloated tick. So I sit back down determined to rest, read and write and I find myself binge watching West Wing and incessantly checking Facebook instead. I’m restless and fidgety.
Apparently, I do not sit still well anymore.
I used to be able to read and daydream for hours. When I was a child, I remember my mom insisting that I take a break from my books to go outside and play. My answer invariably was “just one more chapter.”
At what point in my life did I lose the ability to just BE?
This is the part where I abdicate all personal responsibility and blame our culture.:-)
Our culture idolizes busyness and activity. We are what we do. We answer the obligatory “how are you?” with exclamations of our beloved busyness.
“You know, so busy this time of year! How about you? You guys crazy busy as well?”
Our busyness says we are important, we matter, we are necessary, we are needed, we are indispensable in our little corner of the world. If we aren’t careful, our exclamations of busyness become a subtle competition as we compare who is the most stressed by the most challenges and the most activities. We wear our overcommitment and lack of peace like a badge of honor.
In truth, I have no reason not to relax and take it easy. Although I have some commitments, I also have my girls home from college who are completely capable of filling in the gaps. I am not indispensable. While I am grateful that I would be sorely missed by those who love me, the world would not quit turning if I got hit by a bus tomorrow. Frankly, I’m just not that important.
Isn’t that what our busy, stress-filled clamoring is all about? We fear that our value and our worth rests solely in the perception of how much we get accomplished….by all the myriad of activities we get done and by the number of people who are counting on us.
I find it curious that somewhere in the tangle of these issues of importance and worth reside the struggles that many of us face as we make the transition from full time parent to empty nest parent. We fear that we are only as important as we are needed. If no one needs me, am I still important?
Don’t get me wrong. I know in my heart that I am loved. I know that I am vitally important to my family and loved ones. I know that I am a precious child of God and that I am loved completely and unconditionally. My worth, my value is not in how much I accomplish or in what I do.
And neither is yours.
Yet, I fear we sometimes operate as if the opposite were true. At least I do. We act as if our value was indeed entirely dependent on our productivity. And that faulty thinking leads to our busyness addiction and lack of peace.
And me not being able to sit still.
Maybe, for this holiday weekend at least, I will set that aside and choose Sabbath rest instead.
Would you join me?