The Bread of Idleness

Welcome to Ruby Tuesdays. Today and next Tuesday, if you leave a comment, you get another chance to win an "Afternoon Tea in a Basket" which includes my infamous chai mix, yummy shortbread and a copy of "A Tea for All Seasons."

"...(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."

Take a couple minutes to follow these links and see what some other people are thinking today. If you've got a Proverbs 31 post or blog (meaning just about anything related to home and family, working from home, gardening, teaching, etc), add your information to Mr. Linky and link back here from your blog. (Remember to link to a specific post, and not just a general blog link.) Thanks for joining us!


Susie said...

I think part of achieving is seeing. If you can envision your success, you can achieve it.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

This is great perspective, Mary. I struggle greatly with being "idle." It doesn't matter the distractions...sometimes the more I have the better I do. I know...strange. But when I'm left to myself, I become very selfish and can easily stray into idleness.

Such a trap. God has been speaking with me about this; you're confirming it with your post. I must do better.


JamericanSpice said...

You've covered so well most of what is happening to me.

I do try to utilize my time well but I don't always get it. Especially important now is finding time in the day to spend with God and his word...afterall he did give me this moment in the day.

I too if I'm watching tv will be doing/folding laundry or even reading during the commercial breaks.

I just need to get out and socialize more.

I am definitely working hard towards balance of how I use my time each day.

I enjoyed reading this.

p.s thanks for visiting with me

Beverlydru said...

Hi again! Thanks for reminding me about Ruby Tuesdays. I don't know if my short little post on "Just 4 Today" qualifies but I'll take a chance. I'll keep it in my mind now. I read your She Speaks post and do appreciate you "putting yourself out there". I hope you get to go. My first grandbaby is due July 21 so I plan to be at my daughter's teaching her how to be a Mom during this year's conference time. : )

Kristen said...

oh this is a difficult one! sometimes i think i'm constantly busy trying to keep everyone alive and mostly happy and clean the house and make dinner and do laundry, and other times i wonder if i'm really making the most of my time. and of course every evening after the kids are in bed all i want to do is crash (right after i move the laundry on of course!) and never get up again until bedtime. i know it's a phase, but i also don't want to always just use that as an excuse.

one thing i did to be a little more effective is bring my blue tooth in from the van and use it at home. i can call my sister or mom or friend and catch up with her while i do the dishes, which not only gives me the social outlet i need during my long days at home with young kiddos, but it also helps me accomplish a chore that i really don't like in no time at all!

elizabeth embracing life said...

elaine, just directed me to your blog, as I just wrote a little blog on vs. 25&26 of Proverbs 31. I love that once a month this Proverbs rolls around and I get to taste and see what God will reveal to me.

Idle-ness, means just doing nothing. No balance, no opportunities taken, no visionm, no,no, no...when God really wants us to just say yes to Him. I look forward to following your blog.

God Chaser said...

Great post- I too struggle with idleness at times. You encourage me to take a closer look at how I can better use this time which I often call being lzy too. Be Blessed

Angella Foret Diehl said...

Wow, Mary, you hit several for me there...

"You know I see her list of accomplishments as a list of possibilities and not expectations."

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

"Or maybe we shut out family members while we're absorbed in our latest read."

I've been convicted of this recently ... having been accused of "reading too much" in the past (& dismissing such accusations with "you can never read too much!"), I'm starting to realize that devotion to story is not devotion to glory!

"While watching a favorite TV show, fold laundry or clip coupons."

This is actually counted among my vices: I never relax. Watch a movie with hubby? I'm knitting my sister a baby blanket, clipping coupons, folding laundry. I am *always* doing 2-3 things at once. Am I ever giving one thing full attention? Do I discern properly the things that need full attention and the things that can pass?

Great post, Mary. I find that I very rarely eat of the bread of idleness but I often eat of the bread of self-reliance and busy-ness: equally sinful!

Joyful said...

Great post Mary. Idleness can even become an "idol" and tool of Satan to keep us from what the Lord desires.

My battle with the computer is top of my list. Needing to set parameters around and ask the Lord to help me keep within those boundaries.

May I not indulge in that bread of idleness causes a 'wait' gain and a 'weight' gain as time just sitting increases and the burden of demands desiring my attention continues to mount.

Great teaching,

Baba said...

Idleness is not my problem, but I do have distractions, many many of them. But I believe as long as we do our best, we are on the right road. Giving our all to what ever we do will reap rewards now or in the future. None of us are perfect, but doing our best has great benefits!

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