I enjoy a lot of simple pleasures in this life. I love the smell of rain on the pavement, I love hot tea on a cold morning, I love lying the in sun as it shines through a window and warms the floor beneath. And oh my goodness, I love lists. I will make a list for every purpose imaginable and checking things off gives me an almost physical high. I will even add things to a list that I have already completed just for the satisfaction of crossing it off. Call me organized or call me neurotic, you’re probably not wrong.
Usually this preoccupation with my lists isn’t too disruptive. It helps me stay organized and to accomplish my goals throughout the day. But right now I find myself at the end of a strange time. My kids were away for the week and I had less work to do than usual. I spent the first couple days tackling errands and odd jobs, still moving, moving, moving. But then, by mid-week, everything was done. I was left with only myself for company and found myself listless, in every sense of the word. This break is something I had longed for for months, but the dream was so much better than the reality.
But why? Why am I so obsessed with productivity that I cannot even allow myself to take a break? I spent some time in prayer and the answer to the question was like a punch to the gut.
You need it in order to feel valuable.
To me, staying busy by accomplishing goals and checking boxes all means I am demonstrating my value. As a mother, wife, sister, friend, daughter, employee, you name it. I am like the candidate in a job interview who is asked “What is your biggest weakness?” and insincerely answers with “I work too hard and care too much.” But no one is asking me this question. My interview room is a mirrored box with only my own scornful face casting judgement on my worth.
As much as this was a revelation to me, I don’t think I’m alone. It’s become part of the fabric of polite adult conversation to constantly mention how busy you are. Being busy must equal being successful. Being valuable. Being worthy. Right? Well… maybe not.
One of the most empowering things about a life of faith is our compete assurance that we are loved and valued regardless of our daily, yearly, or lifetime accomplishments. The CEO is no more loved than the rest of us. The gold medal winner isn’t more worthy of salvation.
The oft-quoted but powerful verse of John 3:16 boldly declares
For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16
He loved the world. Not only the person who checked all the boxes that day. This is not to say that we shouldn’t aim high and work to be our best selves, but the work is so different when it comes from a place of joy and peace. When the need to earn our value and prove our worthiness is stripped away we are left with just ourselves and our God. And really, that’s all we ever needed.