Before I get into today’s stream of consciousness I should forewarn the reader that despite the subject of this post, most of my thoughts on this site will be unedited; mainly because that takes a little more time than I have to devote to editing posts. Now, where was I? Oh yes: the case for leisure.
I often blame the Protestant Work Ethic (which is not necessarily a bad thing in itself) for the state of affairs in which Christian mothers in America currently find ourselves. That, and our propensity for overindulgence in whatever it is we set our sights on. This includes leisure as well as work, but today I was thinking about work, and in particular how mothers tend to allow themselves to wallow in guilt and self-flagellate if we take any time to ourselves as leisure.
This morning I began to formulate a series of thought after my morning run. My weekly workout schedule is pretty much the same all the time: Monday, Wednesday, Friday starts with a 20 minute walk followed by 20 minutes of weight. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays are the day i get u at dawn and run. Late Thursday mornings I take another walk while my children are occupied for an hour getting enrichment from someone besides me.
When we are out for a walk, there is a lot of time for thinking, conversation, observing of nature. There is a period of refreshing even after a brisk walk. During a run however, the focus is largely on the physical act of running itself. I realized at the end of my run this morning that with all my focus of breathing, posture, time and distance, there was little thought for my surrounding, or my running partner, who was also focused on the same things as me. There are things that happen when we slow down that cannot happen when we are moving at a breakneck pace.
Most Christian homemakers have at some point run into a train of thought that says basically, “Every waking moment of every day should be spent in service to your family. If any area of your home is undone and you are watching a documentary or reading a novel, then you are neglecting your ‘ministry’ to your family.” If you use a baby sitter or go out to coffee with a friend rather than spending that time with your children, you are “not raising your own children”. In other words, constant spinning on a wheel of busyness trying to work hard enough to be good enough to feel peace with the life we are living. The end result of this is usually one of two things: a haughty spirit or spirit of condemnation.
But the need to slow down is a real and true need. I get to know my children better when I am not moving non stop. I appreciate the glory of creation more when I slow down, send time alone, and observe it. I appreciate the depth of the creative image of God in man when I take time to listen to good music, or read a tale well told, or even watch a good clean comedy. These things have value.
The amazing thing I have learned (and for some reason keep needing to learn over and over again) is that when I let go of the guilt and give myself the space to rest, relax, and leave something for tomorrow, the more focused I am and the more I get accomplished.
This freedom stops me from wallowing in a state of inertia where nothing gets done because I despair that I will never be able to get it all done. But that’s the flip side, which I hope to get to next time.