Monday, July 30, 2012

Efficiency Without Enjoyment

Posted by Michael.

When Thomas Merton was asked what he thought the leading spiritual disease of our time was, he thought for a moment, and then answered, “Efficiency”. Most of us are juggling 527 things to accomplish each and every day, and being as efficient as possible is the nirvana we seek. So, we carefully plan trips to the grocery store, so that I will also have time to fuel up the car, drop off a movie, and then meet a friend for dinner by 7. Every event on our calendar is a challenge to link as many other events together as possible, so as to be “efficient” and knock out even more things on our list. The problem comes when we realize that efficiency doesn’t always equate to pleasure.  I can get pick up the prescription, swing by the farmer’s market, make small group in time, and not enjoy a single one of them.  God did not create me for efficiency. He just does not need me to get it all done. I truly believe that it is about process with God. He wants me to engage life, but with Him instead of for Him. He wants me to feel the pleasure of tackling things on my list, not not strain  compulsively as I grasp for the next three things after that. Efficiency without enjoyment is not life’s purpose.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Drive to Perform

My drive to define myself by my performance seems insatiable. I know that this isn’t the way I was created to operate. I know that I am more than what I do. I know that it’s dangerous to place something as important as my self-worth in something as fragile and unpredictable as performance. I know that if I were perfect today, parented perfectly, counseled clients perfectly, related to friends perfectly, drove perfectly, and set a new personal best on my run, that I would feel great tonight, but would wake up tomorrow morning with the burden of perfection smothering me all over again. It never stops. It’s never enough. Maybe you can relate. My big question is this: if I know all of this, then why do I so compulsively perform at times? Why do failures cause me to doubt myself at such deep levels? My only chance to break the addictive pull of performing for worth is to deliberately, intentionally not perform, and then face the discomfort that it brings. To be completely clear: the only way for me or you to break out of our performance trap is to deliberately choose to not perform. To put it another way, I have to choose at times to fail, to leave things undone. I have to fail, and then fight to embrace the truth that I’m not a failure. I have to leave things undone, and know that I’m not lazy. The failing may come through choosing things to engage in that I don’t have much experience in or that I’m not particularly good at, but have always wanted to try. It may come from attempting the near impossible, whatever that might be.  Knowledge in my head does not lead to change, experiences lived out in the minutes of my days will. It’s not enough to know truth, it has to hit me in the face, and then somehow become my friend.  Any thoughts…….