I often exalt productivity over creativity. We need to get things done, you know? But I don’t like that attitude, and I don’t like how it saps the joy from our family life.
The other day I stopped just short of telling my daughter to go do something productive with her free time. What came out instead was creative.
Go do something creative, I told her.
I did it without really thinking, but I liked how it sounded and I congratulated myself as I headed off to fold laundry.
Moments later I heard the neglected piano, haltingly picking up a familiar song that I love. Irish Wedding.
She had balked at taking lessons again this year, and piano has slipped off the radar of urgent-and-compelling-things-we-must-force-on-our-children. I have made it known how very sad this makes me, because I’m a grown-up like that.
I hadn’t asked her to play the piano that day, or even hinted at it. When the creative thing she chose to do collided with the desire in my heart for a musical home, there were hints of eternity, and Jesus.
Right in the middle of a busy day.
But I have a lot of things that I desire, and they don’t all necessarily have to do with Jesus.
I want peaceful days and productivity. I want enough time to complete a whirlwind list and still read my books, drink coffee in my pajamas, write for hours, and go for endless nature walks with my adoring children.
What I wonder, though, is if all my spoiled wanting and that ruthless complaining I’m trying to root out is really, actually, a desire for more Jesus?
I want it to be.
I want to tell you that it is, but I want to be truthful. I want to be content with the way things are but never settle for “just enough” of Christ.
Can my desire for more peace and more time for restful things be truly a desire for more Jesus, not just selfishness? And would more Jesus actually bring more peace right into the middle of my busiest days?
Because here’s the truth about me:
If I had an hour to myself in the afternoon, I’d spend the first 15 minutes fretting about what to do and starting some laundry so something productive would be happening. The next 15 would be spent fixing something hot to drink, making a snack, and clearing a space. Then I’d bring distractions to that space, along with the 5 things I’d narrowed my chosen activity down to. By the time I was situated I’d have 15 minutes left. I’d read a book for 5 and scroll something mindless for 10.
And then I’d complain that I am overwhelmed or that there’s not enough time for everything.
I miss the fact that I could easily, easily, find an hour most days, or at least 15 minutes, to put my scattered mind to something more valuable. Something eternal, and by eternal I don’t necessarily mean reading my Bible or praying. I mean feeding eternity in me or someone else.
Let me explain.
I start the day with prayer and generally read a portion of scripture each week day morning. (Yes, I could stand to pray more. Yes, I could study better.) I journal and meditate on what I’ve read and sometimes I can even remember it when my head hits the pillow that night.
But in-between the quiet morning hour and the spinning, reeling, tuck-your-big-selves-into-bed time, life feels mach 9 to me. Fast enough for whiplash if I just stopped hard enough.
At some point after the majority of my kids reached the pre-teen years, we let go of naps and quiet time in the afternoons, we passed up nature walks in favor of cardio and sports practice, and we even*gasp*stopped reading aloud together during the school day. That last one pains me the most.
All those things we’ve stopped doing were things that fed us. We’ve replaced some of them with things that do the opposite. If there are things that can feed eternity in us, then there are things that can starve it and feed the temporal instead.
When I talk about “feeding eternity in me or someone else” I’m not trying to be all transcendental or mystical. I’m not talking about exalting my own soul above the Spirit in me, or anyone else.
I am talking about doing things that nourish, encourage, motivate, cultivate, and foster a love of the truth, goodness, and beauty that Christ has put in our hearts – the place where He has written eternity.
What kinds of things can we do to grow that place in us, and in turn, how will that grow our love of Christ?
And can we do this kind of stopping, this hard break in the busy-ness, and till up the soil that has hardened in such a short amount of time? I mean, I had an hour of prayer and Bible reading just this morning. At 3 PM, can I stop everything busy and do something soul-strengthening, again?
There are lots of questions.
I want beauty. I want music. I want whatever is true and noble and just and pure and lovely and of good report, everything full of virtue and worthy of praise. I want those things now because the Spirit has put that desire in me, and I believe eternity will be full of a cycle of wanting those things, being filled with those things, wanting them again, having them again…
I think just 15 minutes here or there of purposefully stopping the productivity to make room for the creativity will bring me nearer to the Jesus I want to be with always.
I’m going to give it a try.