I have always lived a really busy life, thinking that my life was more useful the more social circles I successfully ran in. I could volunteer at the homeless shelter, organize a canned food drive for my school, and go on a mission trip and then I could sleep at night thinking that I have made a difference in my world. My life would then be meaningful.
In high school, I was in a million different clubs, and I also maintained church activities such as quizzing and district and regional talent competitions. In college, I worked three jobs, because in my mind, those activities were more meaningful than going to a barbeque on the campus mall (our name for the really green lawn). I became a recluse as I tried to make use of my time, and my life started out that way this year as well. I spent so much time working, and then wondering why I was tired all the time and questioning if my life mattered.
When Lent started this year, I saw one of my main problems was my schedule, and I decided to take a break from being busy and refocus. I have discovered a more meaningful life than I ever thought was possible. I don’t think I am ever going to go back to the way things used to be. I haven’t really thought through this yet.
Tonight as I was sitting in the restaurant, the waitor came up and started talking to me. He felt comfortable doing that, because he sees me here all the time. He really opened up to me about some things, and we even spent some time talking about God. The crazy thing is, this isn’t the first time I’ve had conversations like this with the employees at this restaurant, or the other customers. I have found a place where I can be real, and they can be real in return with me. What other activity could be more meaningful or life-changing? It doesn’t seem productive, though, to spend evenings reading, writing, and talking to people. However, I am discovering that this is what life is all about.
When we look at what Jesus did, He just walked around for years talking to people. That doesn’t seem very productive. However, somehow in America, we’ve gotten this all upside down. Now, all that matters is working our way up the ladder and “proving ourselves” to those around us. However, our value to God doesn’t depend on our job status, housing status, or how busy we are. Our value to God was decided before we were ever born, and nothing we can do could make God love us any more or any less. That’s such an insane thought to us!
Maybe I have been so busy for selfish reasons. I feel that I am being a good steward of the time God has given me by how many ways I am trying to save the world. Surely true Christians are always out there helping the poor and needy, making quilts for those who need prayer, or raising money for some worthy cause. These things are all great, and I don’t want to put them down at all. However, these things can become very meaningless if all we are doing are satisfying our own consciences, rather than doing them through a passion that God has provided and maintains.
I have found so much joy in a simpler life, when I can truly learn how to be present where I am, rather than always thinking about the next thing on my agenda. In the middle of my conversation with Sally, I am thinking about how if I don’t conclude this conversation in 15 minutes, I am going to be late to work. Inadvertently, everything she says goes in one ear and out the other, because my focus is on the next activity. Then, when I get to work, I am thinking about what I am going to do when I am off work, and I am already creating my to do list in my mind. When I am doing those things in the evening, I am thinking about bed, or even what I will be doing the next day. I go to sleep that night and I don’t even remember what I did that day, because I really wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing in the first place. Have I even really lived?
I don’t want to live like that. If all we ever have is the present, then why are we so focused on living in the future? The future will only ever be another right now, and until we have mastered how to love today, we will never learn how to love tomorrow.
I guess, I want a life where I am not speeding through my day so fast that I do not see the people around me. I want to be able to stop and hear my waiter’s story, and be able to listen from my heart. I want to truly love my job, and see how even the mundane tasks are so important in serving God. I want to be an encouragement to those that I work with by being sensitive to whether or not they are having a good day. I want to be able to handle life’s interruptions like God sees them: just part of life. What is an interruption? Something we didn’t plan on? What can we really plan on? If we are always planning, then do we ever really live? To me, that’s not a meaningful life…I want something a little more meaningful…
These are just my rambling thoughts tonight…