Produce. The proof of value, the proof of contribution, the proof of validity, the essence and the reason for being. Produce. The purest form of nutrition, sustenance, refreshment, energy.
On an endless quest for production, I cycle through days of contentment with life. I find joy in the quiet days, energy in the activity and simplicity in the evenings of rest. Those days are delicious. Like the pop of fresh grapes between my teeth, they squirt excitement over days to come and fondness over memories shortly behind. Like the lingering bite of citrus, they chastise me with longing when I impatiently run ahead of contentment into chaos.
Chaotic days are filled with raucous questions. They flap wildly in my mind, interrogating my heart, “Why do you do what you do? What are you actually producing? What value are you? Whose memory will you be? Aren’t you wasting your life?”
Most days are filled with uncomplicated habits. Two mornings a week I co-lead an exercise bootcamp with a friend. On Wednesday afternoons, I coordinate a Bible study in my home. I write. I manage my home, help at my church, workout, feed my family. But? What? Good? Is? That?
I’m not sure what spurs this anxiety. It seems to stem from a lack of self-assurance. Isn’t that the modern plague – insecurity? Like a graveyard for joy, society dumps discontentment, anger and hurt on low self-esteem. But I can’t accept that diagnosis for myself. It seems like the coward’s way out; like gulping down a little pink capsule and patting myself on the back in consolation. “Everyone feels this way, Dear. You’re OK, in fact, you’re amazing, give yourself some credit.”
The reverse might be more true. I’m tangled in disappointment because I expect more of myself than I can possibly produce. Maybe, I’m not Superwoman and I was’t meant to be Superwoman, and I really only want to be Superwoman because I think she’s amazing and then I could be legitimately proud of myself. Maybe I was created frail and helpless, needy and incomplete.
When I peel away of my excuses and peer into my motives I discover a determination to be self-sufficient, needless. Chasing this, I fail. I fail. I fall.
I brought my pain to Abba’s throne. Maybe it’s the recent Olympics that framed my prayer in sports vernacular.
“Jesus, I am waiting for you. I am so tired of running a lap-less, endless race.”
I don’t get frequent visions, and I would never put the images of my mind on par with Joseph’s dreams in the Old Testament, but as I prayed, I saw, as clearly as I have ever heard, Jesus answer me.
I stood inside a boxing ring. I couldn’t even see my opponent. I was my own opponent. Quietly, Jesus walked into the ring where I fought – bloodied, bruised and beginning to swing in wild panic. Jesus wrapped a blanket around my shoulders and led me away from the ring. As we reached the floor, He lifted my hand in victory.
Three times during the final week of July, Abba confronted me with the concept of rest. His final tap on my spirit came as She Loves chose, “Rest: Learning the Unforced Rhythms of Grace,” as the theme for the month of August.
Have you ever tried so hard to quiet your mind and pinch your eyes closed that you kept yourself from sleeping? My hardest struggle is trying too hard to rest. I schedule my leisure, plan my deep breaths and hurry past them. If rest doesn’t arrive on time, it is simply too late.
But rest, peace, isn’t my responsibility. I can’t make rest happen any more than I can make the sun shine, the grass stop growing, the night last longer.
Abba, you give me peace when I think on you, because I trust you. I trust you with my work as well as with my rest. You, Oh Lord, are everlasting, never sleeping. I will wait for you in the place where you make all decisions, where you orchestrate the rotations of the earth. I will remember your faithfulness with assurance and know that you will produce all that happens in the next seconds and years of my life without my help. My soul yearns for you in the night, when my head is on my pillow you continue to move quietly, letting me rest. (personal paraphrase of Isaiah 26:3,8,9 and Ps. 121:3)
Oh Lord, you have ordained peace for [me], for you have indeed done for [me] all [my] works.” Isaiah 26:12