I had written a blog post quite a few weeks ago that was meant to sort of be an update to the one I wrote about starting my job. So many things have happened since then that my schedule looks so different than it did when I wrote that blog. But the things I was learning then are still impacting my life now. When I started my job I was working two days a week and there was so much positive that came with that, it was great. But there was also a lot of balance to figure out in the rest of my life and that wasn’t always easy. It did mean John and I had some hard, and good, discussions about balancing responsibilities. And it did mean that I had to start thinking seriously about something he had told me when I first wrote that blog post about the job, the one that was so full of hopes of this fixing most of what was broken in my days.
His critique? It was that I had underestimated the need in my life to just rest, to just be. Time when nothing is getting accomplished, except that we are being refreshed and renewed. He’s been trying to make space for that in his days and was encouraging me to do that as well. It’s important to not let external accomplishments be the main thing we use to evaluate the value of our time. I need to remember that I’m not wasting time by reading a book, sitting on the porch swing with my husband, snuggling with my child, or even taking a nap. All of these things have a value that can’t be measured easily by external outcomes. When I spend time reading I broaden my mind, when I spend time with people I strengthen relationships and connectedness, when I take a nap I’m more rested and kinder to those around me. And I even wonder if those results, however important they may be, are the only reason to make time for them. Do they have value even without the results? And what about time that is truly alone, with no distractions? Is that important?
What is value and why we do we as people have value? There is a tendency in some Christian traditions to stress our human sinfulness and weakness. We focus on how unworthy we are in order to be thankful for God’s amazing love in saving us. But I’m beginning to see a danger in that type of thinking. One of the repeated phrases in the Creation story is “And God saw that it was good.” Good, not bad. We are good, not bad. I don’t want to say that we are God, we aren’t. We do fail. We do not love God and our neighbor as we should. But leaving the moral question here behind, there is a core worth that we have just because we are. I think that when God looks at us, he sees something that is good, something that is amazing. We have worth and value that goes beyond what we do. We see a little bit of that when a child is born. The moment a child is born, that child is loved and valued by their parents, at least in most cases. Actually in most cases, that love goes back even further than that. But regardless of when it starts, that love is not based on anything the child has done. A newborn baby doesn’t really have anything to offer that the world would consider valuable. But he or she is valuable. He or she has worth, just by being. As we grow hopefully we offer things to those around us that they find valuable and unfortunately we may do things that actually harm those around us. So things get complicated, but can anything we do, positive or negative, change that initial value we have just because we are?
I know that it is hard to believe that it doesn’t, especially when it comes to ourselves. But if we can accept that for ourselves, we can begin to look at others and see the value they have, even when they don’t look like us or act like us or agree with us. We can even see value in those who harm others. Perhaps then as we see past the external and into the internal, we can begin to love as Jesus loved. My husband John wrote a very good post on how loving ourselves helps us love others that relates to this as well.
And so, back to my schedule. It’s changed quite a bit from when I first started that job. I am working very little now, but am instead trying to start my own business again. I am currently transitioning my kids to public school, and figuring out what the hours of my day should look like now. But, no matter what, I want to allow time to just be. I think sometimes I avoid time like that because it forces me to face who I am. And sometimes I don’t like who I am. Sometimes I’m even afraid of who I am. But that just tells me that I really need to spend that time in the hopes that I will start to see the value of who I am.