We’re coming up on almost four months since our son was born, and for the first time, I feel like we’re starting to have a bit of a routine. Caleb’s getting more consistent in his naps (even if they are just 45-50 minutes long) and my weeks are starting to follow a bit more predictable pattern. This is what I’ve been craving for so long, but this week I started to notice something a little strange in my heart: a frenzied desire to get things done.
Whenever Caleb went down for a nap, I found my mind spinning with ideas of how I should use that 45 minutes. I’d open up my computer and try to find something to do that felt purposeful, something that made me feel productive and useful and busy.
I couldn’t point to one specific reason why I feel this urge to be productive, but it is deeply engrained in who I am. Somewhere along the way I started believing that the worth of a day is measured in how many items I can cross of my to-do list.
Even if all I’m doing is washing dishes or throwing in another load of laundry, I feel an urge to do, do, do in any free time I have. I’ve written before about how Jordan and I fight to live life slow, to say no to the busyness and keep our schedules as open as we can manage. But even in all that, the desire to do more comes up in my heart over and over again.
This week I’ve started to feel God pulling me in a new direction. I’ve started to feel His gentle leading to step away from the desire to be productive, to produce things that our world views as necessary or valuable. Instead, He’s been calling me to be something else: to be present.
Choosing Present Over Productive
In this season and all the ones that follow it, I feel Him calling me to be present instead of being productive.
I will be present to myself, to my body’s needs for rest, for exercise, for good food and glasses of wine. I will take naps when I need them, go on long walks with our dog, read novels for pleasure, and enjoy the (more than) occasional bowl of chocolate chip ice cream without guilt.
I will be present to my husband in all of his passions, joys, and struggles. I will put down my phone and listen to him as he shares his thoughts on running or community or Jesus and I’ll ask real questions in response. I will be present to who he is and all the ways he loves me so well without demanding that he fill me or that our marriage “produce” something of value to the outside world.
I will be present to our baby boy, even when his needs are overwhelming. I will be present to his cries, his giggles, and all the sweet ways his personality emerges more each day. I will soak in the snuggles and tiny milestones, knowing what an honor it is to witness them each day.
I will be present to our friends and family, setting aside time to sit around the table with them and soak in all the ways they bring us joy and point us to Jesus. I will be present to my need for community and not let fear or shame prevent me from reaching out to people and sharing my heart with them.
I want to be present to these things, to be a witness to the fullness of the life that our little family lives. Because ultimately, when I am present to the people and world around me, I am present to so much more – I am present to the presence of the One who created all those things in the first place.
Finding Joy In His Presence
I’m scared that if I rush to do things in every slow moment I’ll miss what God is longing to produce in me: a a joyful heart wide awake to His presence and His joy in all things, to the million little ways His grace spills into my everyday life.
I want to be free of the tyranny of my to-do list, to let the dishes and the laundry and the blog posts sit because I’m “busy” with better things. I want to look back on a day of slow, quiet moments with my people and consider it a day well-spent. And more than anything, I want to be fully present to myself and the people in my world, weighing down each moment with my presence so that I might more fully experience His joy.
Yes, there are practical things that need to get done for life to keep moving along, and we need to pay attention to those things. But today and in the seasons to come, I’m choosing to believe a truth that is changing my perspective on just about everything. The key to finding joy and purpose lies not in being more productive and filling our days with more things and more activities and more doing. Instead, true joy is found in being present to what God is producing in us through all of our ordinary, slow moments.
Lord, may we always be men and women wide awake to your presence, to the millions of ways you infuse our everyday ordinary with your sacred extraordinary.