Friday, November 16, 2012

Redefine Part 3: Kingdom Living vs. Self-Willed Living

This post has been a beast for me to get out. I started it at least a month ago. It has been hard to write because it is still in process in my life. It is not something I have learned and can reflect on, it is something I am learning and processing each day.

When you hear the word "productivity", does it stoke the fires of your inner drive, or douse the flames of your inner carefree spirit?

I have been a new mom now for over four months, and most days I am at home taking care of Jordyn, putzing around the house, doing what needs to get done. And there is always a good list of things that need to get done. Laundry, dishes, sweeping, dusting, on and on and on.  I am not a task driven person, however, so constantly feeling required to be productive is not easy for me.  Feeling like I need to accomplish housework and keep everything in
order is quite a burden to me.  It also makes it seem like relaxing is not an option.

So I started thinking - is there another way to look at this? Can I redefine the perspective I have on daily living, and be able to come out from under this weight without becoming a lazy bump on a log?  I have the wonderful opportunity to be home with my daughter, and I do want to take full advantage of this time of my life, but does that mean that I have to always be "productive"?

And it came to me. Intentionality. Be intentional in how I spend each day. Make thoughtful and wise choices on what needs to be done. If the kitchen is a war zone of dirty dishes and spilled spaghetti sauce, I can be intentional about getting it cleaned up - productivity. However, if I am feeling exhausted from a busy few days, I can be intentional about sleeping when Jordyn sleeps, or having some down time with a good book and hot chocolate - rest. Or, if I haven't really gotten out much in a few days, I can be intentional about stopping in to see a good friend and having a good conversation - relationship. By focusing on being intentional, it is not just about what needs to get done, but it's about making wise choices for my own well being as well as doing what is best for my family.

So I tried this new perspective out for a few days. It was a definite improvement on being my own task-master, and constantly feeling the need to achieve. However, I started to find I could fail at being intentional just as easily as I could fail at being productive. At the end of a day, I could still find that I had not made the best choices. Being intentional still brings a heavy load of doing things right.

I realized that there is a similar heart problem behind both striving to be productive and striving to be intentional.  At least in me.  In either case, it is about proving my worth.  Proving that I can make the right choices. Proving that I am not a failure. Either way, it is still me trying to succeed in my own strength. And that can be exhausting and discouraging. I am not strong enough.

I am currently working through a three book series by James Bryan Smith on spiritual transformation. In the books, he often says we need to know who we are and where we are. I am one in whom Christ dwells and delights in. I live in the unshakable Kingdom of God. Christ is in me and is transforming me. Living understanding this identity is Kingdom living. Kingdom living is walking with God through each moment.

Kingdom living is living in surrender to Christ. It is laying my weaknesses at the cross, and leaning on Christ in me, who is my strength. For me it will often mean facing the tasks of the day with prayer, seeking His wisdom and strength to do what needs to be done. It will mean surrendering my struggles, and resting in His love when I do not know how I will go on. It means trusting His judgement and guidance rather than my own, knowing that He truly does know what is best for me.

At the same time, Kingdom living is embracing my freedom in Christ. As one living in the Kingdom, I am free to rest, free to take care of my family, free to listen to the Spirit each day and follow His lead. Free to work hard, free to enjoy family and friends, free to treat others with love. Free to grow, free to create, free to live.

So instead of Intentionality Vs. Productivity, instead of finding a new perspective on how I can live each day, I landed on Kingdom Living vs. Self-Willed Living. Living in surrender and dependence on God, rather than myself.

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