I didn’t make a resolution at the new year, but my impromptu January commitment is holding strong. Sure, it’s just the end of February but isn’t life more the myriad of small wins than a few championships?
What I’m staking victorious claim to is two months (so far) of regular exercise. Granted, putting club membership money on the line has been good motivation. Even so, I’m beginning to reap the first fruit from a disciplined care of my aging flesh and bone.
As part of my workouts, I’ve assimilated to the exercising hoard by stuffing ear buds into my auditory canal. It seems relational isolation is required for physical fitness. I’ve capitalized on this fascinating dynamic by listening to podcasts of all types. While listening last week, I nearly stumbled in full rotation on the elliptical (if that’s even possible) when I heard this statement: “It’s not what you do that burns you out; it’s what you don’t do.” (Christine Caine, founder of the A21 campaign and Propel Women)
What? Do more to not feel like I’m doing too much? How contrary. How surprising. How paradoxical. How…true?
My thoughts plunged deep with introspection. I hardly heard another pod-casted word.
I’m typically a steady worker with decent energy. A fast-paced plodder, you might say. But for a while now, I’ve wondered if I was beginning to redline.
My passion lacked sparkle. Desire was AWOL. Energy was down to the dregs. It seemed burnout was nipping at my heels.
My self-help response was to apply new techniques. Re-structure my work and home life with a fresh system of time management. Same stuff in a better way — surely that will fix things. And for good measure, I’ll add more personal pep talks, reduce carbs in the diet, and exercise. After all, I was doing good things and being productive. Surely my “possible” burnout was because I’m not doing things the right way. Just tighten the belt and suck it up. You can do this!
Yet, I can’t escape that statement from Ms. Caine.
Might she be right? Could my feeling of frantic tiredness stem not from doing too much in wrong ways but from not doing the right things? It’s hard to imagine adding anything, but maybe what’s missing will enliven my living? What must I do so I can do all that I should be doing?
Thomas Merton said, “Your life is shaped by the end you live for. You are made in the image of what you desire.” (Thoughts in Solitude, p.49) Hmmm. What is the shape of my life? In this moment, where am I headed? For what purpose did I rise this morning? My thoughts, words, attitudes, and actions are shaping me into…what? My answers craft the curbs which bound my do’s, and don’t do’s, and must do’s.
I can’t self-manage to stay below the redline. None of us can. There’s no prescription for “doing life.” But, as a Christ follower what I must do is center my desire on being conformed to His image. That purpose will shape my affections and wisely guide me with deciding what stays, what goes, and what get’s added in the day-to-day. In that, there is freedom — and rest.
How about you? What’s the end toward which you’re living? What are your shaping influences? Does joy string your activities together, or do you go from here to there thinking, “glad that’s over.”
Our lives should be full, but not frantic. Spend this day pondering the privilege of life and the Person who gives it. Then get busy enjoying Him in every purposeful moment.