Leadership

Rest or Laziness?

Currently my apartment is a mess. There is no poetic way to paint this picture. It is simply, a mess. Suitcases partially unpacked, unmade bed, old mail, groceries on the counter. But, hey, summer has been crazy with two big trips, recovery time, and the usual weekly expectations as well. Not to mention trying to figure out finances for all that is coming my way this fall. There is a whirlwind of happening and a girl has got to rest, so we can excuse the mess, right?

We are commanded to rest. Sabbath. Set aside time to be still.

Sometimes, that means excusing the mess. But not always. And not in my current case. I have not been resting. I have been lazy.

So, what is the difference?

I believe there are two main differences. Intentionality and outcome. Let’s break it down a bit…

Intentionality

  • Rest requires planning. Laziness just happens.
  • Rest means investing in your life. Laziness means wasting your life.
  • Rest minimizes distraction. Laziness is distraction.
  • Rest hides in relationship. Laziness hides from relationship.

Outcome

  • Rest prepares you for action. Laziness dissuades you from action.
  • Rest creates room for you to be filled with life. Laziness fills your life so there is no room.
  • Rest removes the weight from your shoulders. Laziness adds the weight of guilt.
  • Rest sends you out. Laziness sucks you in.

I have rested a bit this summer, but in all honesty, mostly, I have been lazy. The housework has piled up, as has the guilt. The mess is driving me crazy, and yet, just as sugar begets sugar cravings, laziness begets Netflix marathon cravings. And like any bad habit, it takes hard work to replace it with good habits. However, true rest is worth the effort.


Still not sure what the difference is between rest and laziness? Well, I asked my internet friends for tangible examples from their own lives. Here are some of their responses:

Rest is meeting my friends for coffee. Laziness is spending hours liking and commenting on social media.

Rest is getting up early to knock out a few hours of writing. Laziness is sleeping in until noon and waking up still feeling exhausted.

Rest is sitting on the porch, drinking a glass of wine, chatting with friends. Laziness is always choosing that over the dishes in the sink.

Rest is watching a movie with my child. Laziness is watching Sports Center instead of taking care of life.

Rest is creating something. Laziness is playing games on my phone.

Rest is giving myself a pass one day on making my bed. Laziness is giving myself a pass everyday.

Rest is going for a walk. Laziness is not leaving the house.

Rest is a Chick-fil-a run so I can spend time doing something I love. Laziness is a Chick-fil-a run so I don’t have to think about what to cook. 

Rest is lying on the beach with a good book. Laziness is lying on the couch and playing games on my phone all day.

Rest is watching Gilmore Girls during the kids’ nap time. Laziness is watching tv all day. 

Rest is turning off my phone so I can hear from the Lord. Laziness is turning off my phone so I can avoid someone. 

Rest is spending time reading God’s Word on my own. Laziness is skipping church because I don’t like the sermons. 

Rest is deep, intentional conversation over coffee. Laziness is staying superficial with new friends.

So there you have it. Real life examples of rest verses laziness. What about you? What activities are restful for you and when do you know you have crossed into laziness? 

The Piano Lesson

Since the beginning of our relationship, she has been staring at me from across the room. Every now and then, I would open her up and run my fingers along the ivories, hoping the years of lessons would come back like riding a bicycle. Unfortunately, the piano is not a bicycle and my fingers don’t remember the dance that they reluctantly practiced all those years ago.

See, two years ago, I acquired this piano. She is quite possibly the most beautiful of all my belongings. She made the move with me from a four bedroom house in the city to my one bedroom suburban apartment. And yet, since being in my care, she has never lived her purpose. Instead, she has served as a shelf, a home for books and photos and the dvd player. The piano has played the background of many photos and she does it well. Still, a piano is meant for more.

I had the best of intentions when I acquired her. I planned to sit and force my fingers to find their way again. I pulled out my old lesson books and my music theory text book. I had good intentions.

But good intentions are not the same as intentional actions.

I don’t know your story, but perhaps you are feeling like my piano. Perhaps you have been aching for the more you were made to be. It’s a story we all have lived, waiting for someone to recognize that we are meant for more than a pretty picture. We wait for permission to share the song locked up in our souls, aching to be played. A piano must wait for someone to come along and put her to use, but you and I…what are we waiting for?

You have good intentions to serve in your church but no one has asked? Be intentional in your actions and offer your help. You have good intentions to make friends in your new neighborhood but your neighbors stay locked away behind busy schedules and drawn curtains? Be intentional in your actions and knock on a door. Always meant to write a book, learn that skill, make the phone call? Whose permission are we waiting for?

If the answer is anyone other than the One who created us, then it’s time to stop waiting. And if the answer is the One who created us, then let us be very sure we are not putting words in His mouth. He may very well ask us to wait, but He will not ask us to let our strings grow rusty and our keys sticky beyond use. So let us not mistake our fear for His forbiddance of living within our purpose.

I sold my piano this week. I had to be honest with myself about the reality of our relationship. There are many skills I’d love to learn. I do not have the time nor the mental capacity to learn it all and do it well. So, I am sending my beloved bookshelf off to a home where she will live her purpose. She will belong to a piano teacher and the fingers of children will learn to dance along her keys.

You may have many passions and the thought of choosing a path may paralyze your heart. It’s time, friend. Be honest about what you are made for. Be honest about what is the envious dream of another life and what is wired into your being. And when it still feels there are a million streams flowing from your soul, make a choice and take a step. You may find that the streams cross a ways down the road but if you keep waiting for permission, you will most certainly find nothing but bitterness towards all those who withheld it. No matter how much you plan to live with purpose, it is in the walking that purpose is found.

What are you waiting for? Be brave. And remember, good intentions are not the same as intentional actions.

Only A Woman

Joy Williams recently released a song, “Woman (Oh Mama)”. It’s a tribute to womanhood and while I prefer her earlier music, there is a line in her new single that perfectly describes how I am feeling at this moment.

“I am The Universe wrapped in skin.”

The universe is full of mysteries that will never be solved. It is complex, containing great big wondrous creations and tiny intricate slivers of life. It is full of light and dark. The universe is in constant motion but contained in the stillness of space.

I am the universe.

I want to speak honestly here, but I confess that I am afraid. I am afraid of what you might think. I am afraid that I might seem weak. Still, I know I am not alone in the place where I kneel. I know there are others with the same aches, same questions. So it is with fear and trembling, yet with humility and strength that I let my heart bleed out into my words.

You see, this past week, leading up to Mother’s Day, my tiny world was flooded with questions of a woman’s place.

I preached a sermon, my first, this past Sunday and it went well. I believe that God spoke through me, that He used me to say things that my church family needs to hear. But, I grew up in a tradition, different than the one I find myself in now, that taught me that men are preachers and pastors and leaders of the church. Women lead women and children and never men. So I wrestle with my place at the pulpit even when I’m sure the words in my mouth are from The Father.

Two days prior to my inaugural sermon, I came across a post from someone I respect that reiterated what I’d learned in my youth about women taking the pulpit. Doubt flooded my mind and heart. And the questions wrapped around my throat. More than “What is my place?”, the questions were “Woman. Who am I?” With prayer, and knowing I stood also in the support of many Godly men and women, the waters of doubt subsided and I spoke in the authority of The Spirit on Sunday.

Still, I’d be lying if I said I am certain now of where I stand as a woman.

And it wasn’t only my own questions. I had conversations with two students last week about women in leadership. Women in marriage. Women in life. They came to me, with hearts laid open. Looking for wisdom. Asking for a sounding board. Offering the pearls formed by the questions turning over in their minds. And I told them what I know. And I told them what I think. And I told them what I wonder.

See, this place in history, in MY history as well as in our collective history, is tearing at the soul of woman. On one side, the quest for equality is being blamed for the fall of mankind. But on the other, the strength of woman is being lauded as the missing piece finally found. From one voice I respect, “why women should not preach” and from another, “why shouldn’t they?“.

And then there was this:

“As a man gets more powerful and successful, he is better liked. As a woman gets more powerful and successful, she is less liked.”

And that makes women fear growth. As a single woman, it feeds the fear that if I continue to follow my ambition, my desire to grow into the things God has wired into my soul, that I will outgrow the possibility of ever being desirable to a man. It’s a lie. It must be. Men surely cannot be so intimidated or turned off by a woman following her dreams that he can only imagine life with a woman who has done nothing but wait for him to show up.

And yet, that is the lie that is fed to us so often.

And here I find myself, wrestling with these questions, this place in history ripping holes in the universe of my soul. I do not yet fully grasp who I am as a woman. Who I am meant to be. Where I am to stand.

Here is what I know:

  • I delight in what God is doing with my days.
  • I cherish the opportunities He has given me to grow.
  • I desire to use whatever platform He gives to speak life.
  • I enjoy this season.
  • I ache for a new season.
  • I  love adventure and dream of someone to journey alongside.
  • I pray for students and friends whom I am privileged to nurture in the now.
  • I weep for the not-yet of my children whom I long to hear call me mama.

See, there are mysteries within me that will never be solved by anyone other than the Life-giver. There are within me great big wondrous creations and tiny intricate slivers of life. Both light and darkness fill my skin. I am constant motion contained in the stillness of the Maker’s hands. I am a woman.