lent @ coast vineyard (promo copy)

lent @ coast

portraits taken by Lee Jeffries

lent sample shot

Please, go waste your time.

[A message for uber busy people.]

Working full-time at a startup and as a graduate teaching assistant, staying faithful to a full course load of MBA studies, and opening up a coffee house?  “Really, David?  When did you become superhuman?  How do you have enough time for that?”

I like to think I have more hours in a week than the average person.  I enjoy finding ways to increase efficiency while executing well (which is very different than cutting corners and thus compromising quality).  I like to think I’m superhuman.  I could set 15 meetings for the week, and with full confidence, expect myself to be fully present and engaged.  Well, at least I pretend to be.

Being busy is a curse for some, a point of pride for others, and a way of life for many.  I like to fill my schedule not for the sake of doing so, but because I like following through with the things I’m crazy about:  learning digital and brand marketing, developing students, and creating spaces for marginalized people groups to call a home.  I love what I do, because I’ve learned that doing flows from being.  I feel steady.  But I’m not resting.

Ever been in a place where life seems headed in that cycle of:

  • Over-commitment: for whatever unjustified, fear-driven, irrational, people-pleasing reason.
  • Low Output: inability to accomplish tasks not because you suck as a person, but because you suck in saying “No.”
  • Emotional Chaos: depression, anxiety, isolation, blaming, helplessness.
  • Numbness: pretending your wild schedule isn’t that bad and convincing yourself that you have it together.
  • Embracing reality: accepting that you suck in saying “no,” that you don’t have it all together, and that you’re not so amazing at things when you try to be amazing at many things at once.

I originally thought the busy syndrome was intertwined into the Millennial DNA (think FOMO), but once again, was wrong.  No, it’s not just  a Millennial issue – it’s a human dilemma.  My dad goes through it.  My boss goes through it.  Your roommate definitely goes through it.  Your mom probably goes through it.

Processed with VSCOcam with b5 presetThis past Friday afternoon at the Central Library in Downtown San Diego with my 6th grade friend, Michael.  We spent the afternoon playing the PlayStation 4 game, Injustice: Gods Among Us.  At the sexy mature age of 28, I thought I was too cool for video games, until I realized playing as Green Arrow and beating up on Superman with my super combo move was way more fun than hours of purpose-filled prayer, reading Scripture, mastering Adobe Illustrator, or writing a business plan.  (Note of context: I am not saying these aforementioned items aren’t fun, rewarding, or restful for me or for anyone else.  But in the context of this week, a huge chasm existed between what felt obligatory/dreadful versus free/life-giving.)

We hate wasting our time.  We’re such intentional creatures: we love spending every second and minute with purpose.  We love seeing the fruit of our labors.

But I’ve been learning the value of wasting my time.  Think about when you were a kid.  You didn’t have a care for the world, but you engaged with the present.  Self-awareness was limited by your life stage and your responsibilities were at an all-time low, but you knew how to be present, to waste your time.

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Christian psychologist David Benner, in his (quite cheesy title) book “The Gift of Being Yourself,” remarks:

“Another struggle for me was the feeling that meditation was a waste of time.  I wanted to judge it by what I got out of it.  When I did, it often seemed to be a dreadfully inefficient spiritual practice.  But productivity and efficiency miss the point.  What God wants is simply our presence, even if it feels like a waste of potentially productive time.  That is what friends do together – they waste time with each other.” (emphasis mine)

Whoa.  How do I waste my time when I value meaning and value in every task or encounter? (I mean, hell, some of us love sleep.  But others treat it as a functional task that’s part of their day.  What’s the fun in that?)  What does un-occupied, inefficient, unproductive space look like?

Jesus reminds us that the Sabbath was created for us, not the other way around.  It’s intended to cultivate life.  You’re not supposed to do any work.  Even Moses tells the Israelites in Exodus 16, ‘Eat [the manna and quail] today because today is a sabbath to the Lord.”  He tells them not to waste any of the food, but to feast and finish all God’s given them for that day.  Moses tells them not to go out and gather any more food, because they should enjoy what’s already on the platter.  I mean, it’s right there.  Just eat it.  Enjoy yourself.

So, please go waste your time.  Do it with the people you love.  Play some basketball.  Try things you suck at.  Do things you’re awesome at.  Go on a long walk.  Take a nap on the beach and get sun-burned.  Dress your dog up.  Finish that Netflix series.  Take a well-deserved nap.  Yes, eating a bucket of fried chicken by yourself is okay once in a while.  And stop feeling guilty for not being busy.  That’s the best rest.

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