About a year ago, I gave up using the word “busy” to describe myself. It was mostly because of the sentiment Brian Paquette expresses here. While I’ve kicked the habit of using the “b-word” as a badge of honor, I haven’t managed to let go of the frantic-ness that goes along with always trying to do too much.
This Lent, I’ve been contemplating how to carve out more time for stillness and for myself. These are lovely-sounding things that seem to be just the right kind of health-promoting thing to do. All that thinking led to all kinds of dis-balances, not sure exactly why I was engaging in all this “self-care” (a phrase that made this Midwesterner a little queasy), and not feeling any better at the end of the bath or the lazy afternoon or the mind-numbing movie. Reaching out to a friend for wisdom (she’s given up facebook, internet at home, and full-time paying work–which probably aren’t coincidental with respect to her wisdom and balance), I learned a more helpful lens: looking at life and time as all-dedicated to goods and to calling.
What I mean is, instead of seeking “stillness” for its own sake, which is a very attractive notion, but doesn’t get me up early in the morning (its motivational power isn’t enough for me), I’ve been conceiving of the “self-care” of stillness as part of my vocation–the calling God has placed on my life–to being a disciple, a follower, of Jesus.
Suddenly, going to bed instead of sitting with parishioners on the phone till wee hours seems healthy, not selfish. I can’t be any good to anyone if I am misusing the tools I’ve got. Self-denial isn’t self-abuse, but sometimes it is denying the Emily-self who wants to be hardcore and burn the candle at both ends and Do All The Things and Be All The Things Now.
I’m spending the next few weeks trying to look closely at what I’m meant to be doing these days as a 29-year-old priest in South Carolina–a spring-cleaning for my soul. I invite you to join me in spending a bit of time in the last two weeks of Lent (the time leading up to Easter Day) considering what extraneous, “busy” things might be cluttering up your life, which idols of yourself you might be clinging to, what work it is that God has called and equipped you for at this moment.