This week’s topic on Coffeegirl confessions was on “Being vs. doing.” Coffeegirl quoted Thomas Merton saying:
We are so obsessed with doing that we have no time and no imagination left for being.
As a result, men are valued not for what they are but for what they do or what they have – for their usefulness.
Every single comment pointed to the difficult balance between doing and being.
ASBO Jesus also posted a cartoon on this topic:
Several years ago I read the book “The Power of Being: for people who do too much” by Christian R. Komor. One of the principles I still remember was: “If you are not ready to do nothing, you are not ready to something.” This forced me to examine myself how often I was doing things, just to avoid doing nothing. I realized how true this is, that if I am not comfortable sitting still and doing nothing, than my doing comes out of the wrong motivation. Only when my doing comes out of an inner serenity, can it be a healthy kind of doing. I am not sure where I heard this quote first: We are called to be human beings, not “human doings,” but I am sure that it was also mentioned in this book. Since then I have started my journey to be more of a human being. I am thankful to report that I have become much more comfortable over the years to not always do something. Probably this has a lot to do with learning to rest in Jesus’ acceptance that does not depend on my accomplishments.
Last week I had to reexamine myself again. As my regular readers might have noticed, there were about three weeks where I posted little else than a quote on Sunday (Quote for the week) and a picture on Wednesdays (Wednesday without words). It was a reflection of my general state. I had just finished a two-week intensive course, during which I was also ill and had several doctor’s appointments. Despite all of it and to my own surprise I managed to finish all my book reviews. It was evidently God’s grace. I was just regaining strength and happy to get going on the next project. I had lots of ideas and took out the first pile of books from the library. But then something changed and I didn’t know what. I still have not read them. The next three weeks were filled with lots of this and that. Things that had to be done: reports to write, newsletter to send, thank-you notes, answering e-mails, meetings with friends, cleaning the house, doing laundry, attending a women’s retreat, researching and testing software, getting the car repaired, …. I was not bored or inactive. In fact, I was very busy and I got lots of little things done, but nothing on my main project. This is why I felt frustrated nevertheless. Something was wrong but I didn’t know what. This something was also reflected in the lack of blog writing. I did not have the energy, the serenity and creativity to write.
Eventually, I took time with the Lord and asked him “Lord, what is going on? What is wrong with me?” I did not exactly get an answer to the questions I asked. Jesus answered me in a different way. I realized anew that I am loved and accepted even when I do nothing. When I have nothing to show. When I have not accomplished what I was supposed to do and because of it feel worthless. When I am unhappy about my progress, the results of whatever. HE still rejoices over me. This brought my heart to rest. And I realized that I had forgotten that I am a human being, not a human doing. After this realization I was able to let go of the frustration of the last three weeks, stop brooding over what had happened and why, and be content in what I had been able to do. And be even more content in who I am – God’s beloved, the daughter of a King. Without ever doing a thing (or writing a blog). 😉
3 thoughts on “Doing or being”
I have struggled with this lately. The Lord has really shown me a meaninglessness (is that even a word?) in all the doing, and therefore I have given it up, unless it was absolutely needed, like laundry. I gave up all the things I did to add to my identity. Now I find myself struggling with boredom and a lack of purpose, because even those things that used to make me feel like I accomplished something, the things I took interest in, are all nothing to me now. I see no meaning or excitement in them anymore. So now I am waiting on the Lord to show me His purpose for me, and he is. It’s just a patience thing at this point. Anyhow, all this was to say, that I appreciated your comment on that quote, it encouraged me.
Thank you for your honesty. I am glad it encouraged you. I can imagine that this is not easy for you. It takes time. And we all want patience “right now”, don’t we? 😉 But in the end it is liberating . Hang in there!
Your transparency is to be admired, Jutta. My blogging comes and goes in ebbs and flows. I understand your need for a time of pulling back to reflect. I am thankful that the Lord would answer you in the way you need to hear it.
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