"...(she) does not eat the bread of idleness." Proverbs 31:26b
We've talked about the Proverbs 31 woman for a couple of weeks now. You know I see her list of accomplishments as a list of possibilities and not expectations. And that rather than having to be all of those things before we 'count,' we have a lifetime to explore the opportunities presented.
But with all that in mind, what do you think keeps you from being the wife/mom/businesswoman, etc that you really want to be?
For myself, I could list lots of things--lack of time or training or skill--but I do wonder sometimes if a lot of it isn't attributed to not being "industrious" enough. Ok, maybe lazy.
I don't want to be. And I don't mean to be. Sometimes it comes from having so much to do that I don't know where to begin. Or I get involved in one project that takes me to another room where I get distracted by something else that needs doing. Or the kids interfere, either by interrupting me every 4.5 minutes or by trying to "help" which usually involves undoing what I just got done.
A lot of the time it's just the awareness that any of the above is likely to happen as soon as I embark on a task and I kind of short-circuit and give up before I begin. On a good day, I get started but give up as soon as any of those factors factor in.
And those are just the unintentional distractions!
I think we all have our pet idlenesses. Sometimes it can even be disguised as something good, but in our heart of hearts, we know it's idleness just the same.
TV is probably the most obvious and often targeted. It's easy to get lost in some program or other, only to find that hours have slipped away without accomplishing anything productive. The internet can be the same way.
My biggest vice for many years (after my parents got rid of the television) was reading. On the surface, that doesn't sound so bad. After all, reading is a good thing, right? But it's possible to read even good books or magazines to such an extent that we neglect other things that need to be done.
We may turn down opportunities to serve because we "don't have the time." Or maybe we shut out family members while we're absorbed in our latest read. Maybe the material itself fills our heads with "possibilities" that lead us to ignore the realities of the life right in front of us.
Idleness can also come in the form of socializing. Whether over the phone or over tea (or over Facebook), it's easy to spend so much time that dinner gets started late or the laundry doesn't get done, or the checkbook doesn't get balanced (and that little math error made last week turns into a major budget crisis).
Idleness is something I've always struggled with, but I think I'm making some progress. And I think mostly God just wants us to be balanced in our lives--in our work and our play.
I've found some ways to become more productive. Set time limits on "pleasure" reading or computer time. While watching a favorite TV show, fold laundry or clip coupons. With cordless phones, time spent catching up with a dear friend can also be used to fix dinner or straighten up.
It's still not about looking at a checklist of "perfect." For me, I think the challenge is to look at the idleness in my life and see how it can be overcome. It's an ongoing struggle, but success along the way makes the struggle worth it.
And one of the benefits as I see progress being made is knowing that my time is being used well and that I won't have to make excuses or explanations. Ultimately, I hope that as I begin to achieve this balance in my life, "(my) works will praise (me) in the gates," and the respect of my family and others I have opportunity to serve will follow.
What's your pet form of idleness? What do you do to combat/overcome it?
PS--Check out the recipe following this post to try the "Bread of Industriousness."
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