Live freely and lightly
Earlier this week I shared a short video on my Facebook page about toxic productivity. It talked about the need we seem to have these days to be constantly on the go – producing, achieving, being MORE than we are. This way of life leaves in its wake a feeling of never having accomplished everything, of having failed or with a constant restless feeling that there is always something left to give attention to. This kind of life chokes any sense of peace and rootedness. It closes down space both within ourselves and space into which God can enter and offer us new discoveries about God and ourselves.
Toxic productivity in all its guises and shapes is something I encounter a lot in my role as Soul Coach. For many life turns into a treadmill of doing and constant giving from waking until sleeping. Life is lived within a small, constricted space and there is little time for simply being, for engaging in life-giving activities (or those that are inactive!) that on the face of it achieve nothing. I often find myself giving people permission to do something they love with no apparent end goal and they receive that permission eagerly and with great relief. Isn’t it amazing that we so often struggle to give the very same permission to ourselves.
In order to live lives with more spaciousness, stillness and joy we sometimes have to make hard decisions. I love to play the piano, I love to knit, sew, create textile art, paint, design, write, wild-swim and hang out with friends. I would love to have time in my life to give to all of these things alongside the day to day of chores and work. But I simply don’t if I also want to keep space open for stillness, prayer and staying connected to the Trinity as the source of my life. I’ve had to let some things go and be okay with that knowing that they may come back to me at some point down the road. I remind myself that I, along with everyone else, am a being with an eternal life so what I don’t have time for now will come back to me.
In recent years I’ve also become more skilled at letting go of what isn’t mine to bring to the world. We can often feel overburdened by the world’s needs as there are so very many. I laugh at my younger self now and all the different needs I thought were mine to respond to, it was as if I considered myself some kind of super-hero and without my input the world would go under! Such huge pressure, such a large ego! My life is now very simple and I know what is my gift to offer and who I can be in relationship to others. It is liberty indeed to say a kind no to that which doesn’t fit me alongside a yes to that which I know I need in order to live without overwhelm.
Richard Rohr says it very well…
As we come to know our soul gift more clearly, we almost always have to let go of some other “gifts” so we can do our one or two things with integrity. Such letting go frees us from always being driven by what has been called the “tyranny of the urgent.” Soon urgency is a way of life, and things are not done peacefully from within. What if we choose to simply do one or two things wholeheartedly in our lives? That is all God expects and all we can probably do well. Too much good work becomes a violence to ourselves and, finally, to those around us.
Those words ring with truth and carry an invitation to greater freedom and living from that place of freedom in itself is a great gift to the world.
I love these words from Matthew 11:28 – 30
Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.
As we let go of what isn’t ours to carry, do or achieve, as we choose to give ourselves to just one or two things and trust the rest to God, we learn the unforced rhythms of grace. We get to know what it feels like when something heavy is placed on our shoulders and can shake it off. We enter into a new realm of life that is free and light. We enter a freedom to give what is truly ours to give and with that comes a deeper joy and authenticity not only for ourselves but for the world.