I have always been a worrier. Or so it seems. And if I’m not worrying, I worry that I’m not worrying – because surely there’s always something to worry about, right? Be it whether someone is OK, whether I’m parenting right, what … Continue reading
My experience has been that my life has seasons – times when things seem to move quickly, at others so excruciatingly slowly that I wonder if it will ever move on or change – and themes – big, overarching principles that seem to be so embedded into everything I read, hear and see, it can feel that God has got a sledgehammer out to knock some sense into me!
This current season of life – being at home with my girls,aged 4 and almost 2 – looks very different to any other that’s gone before. My value and worth to society in terms of productivity are pretty minimal in the world’s view, and I’m working harder physically than I ever have. Every day is a relentless round of giving out, of half finished tasks and endless tasks to do. It is so easy to slip into a feeling of only being useful to those around me, and to scoff when my husband tells me I’m beautiful yet I feel dog tired and scruffy. It is so easy to slip into being a consumer of grace and strength so I can achieve my aims for the day, rather than seeing it as beautiful that through me He achieves His aims for my day.
And my theme? That by taking the scenic route rather than the most efficient, that by leaving spaces of time apparently without purpose, apparently useless, by stopping this unceasing assessment of things and people and activities in terms of their worth, I discover true value is in the wild beauty that happens when I’m least expecting it. In the conversations that happen with my eldest as her fledgling faith begins to put on feathers ready to soar one day (how I pray she soars high!); in the moments when I see a glance, hear the laughter between my girls; in the still, quiet space where God drops His peace into my heart or even more amazingly gives me the words to share with a friend who needs to hear them – in these places, apparently useless if assessed by a measure of productivity, I find ultimate beauty. Which then drives home harder the need for those spaces that can so quickly be squeezed out – by housework, saying yes to too many (often good!) things, dealing with the day to day tasks necessary for our lives – to be present and allowed to just be.
The challenge is that in being deliberate about creating those spaces, the very act of allowing them to happen doesn’t become another exercise in efficiency which would ultimately result in futility. Because everyday life is messy, and real, and doesn’t fit neatly into boxes-because real, living people and relationships don’t fit neatly into boxes.
Have I got the balance right yet? No, it’s still a work in progress, it will always be a work in progress! But that’s ok – because I’m not finished yet, He’s not finished with me yet, and whatever I might think about me, He tells me that we are His masterpiece:
10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago. (Ephesians 2:10)
A friend asked me a while ago what I thought it meant when people say ‘let’s do life together’. My first reaction was that it seemed an awfully awkward phrase to begin with, and my second was to wonder if somehow I was not ‘doing life” properly then!
It seems to me that in the fast paced, instantly gratifying, 24/7, global village, same day delivery, now-isn’t-fast-enough world that we live in, the implication is that life is something that can be done, that action is required and therefore change and purpose. It implies that to merely exist is not enough, that we must do more, achieve more, be more. Which raises an obvious question – why?
Social media, blogging, FaceTime, instant updates on events the other side of the world and much more all contribute to more knowledge than ever before. Keeping on top of all of that is a time consuming task in itself (if we choose to allow it to be) and with more and more friends in our networks, the escalation continues. It is so easy to expect everyone to know what’s happening because it’s on a status update or been tweeted. But is that ‘doing life’?
I think when people use the phrase, most often it’s to illustrate the need and value and importance of being present in each other’s lives. It’s fellowship, pure and simple. It’s friendship, it’s supporting one another, it’s dropping by for a cup of tea, it’s serving one another and speaking into one another’s lives.
As to the why we feel the need to do it, to mark it out as special and separate from our fast paced everyday lives, well, I’d suggest that is because we all long for relationship. We were created for relationships, we are meant to be a living body of people supporting and serving each other. What all those social media sites, texts and instant gratification of information can’t give are human contact, soul to soul contact, a hug, a touch, a word from one heart to another.
So how do you ‘do life’? Is it via a screen, whilst wishing and longing for more than that? Or do you have a balance? Or even opt out of social media entirely? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Hi, my name’s Rachel – I’m a Christian wife and mother of two beautiful little girls, living in Lancashire in the UK. I love my family (immediate and extended), music, worship, friendship, chocolate, organising, reading, laughing, holidays, Earl Grey tea, … Continue reading
Welcome to Beautiful Not Useful – a space where I’m excited to share my journey of seeing the beauty in my life. I’m touched that you stopped by to read and hope that you might feel inspired to look for the beauty in your life too.
It can be so easy to put a value on things – not necessarily financial, but how much time or effort or reward or pleasure something can bring – that the beauty in the ordinary and everyday routines of life can also be missed. Even worse, that which is most beautiful can be reduced to how useful it is to us – put another way, we can look for the benefit to ourselves from what we are given rather than the staggering beauty of the one who gives it to us. These past few months have seen huge changes in my life (more on that later!) and even bigger changes in my way of thinking about my purpose, God’s intentions for me, my relationships with Him, my family and others – just about everything in fact!
I’ve been following a few other blogs in the past year and found massive encouragement and inspiration from them – stemming from that was the desire to start writing my own. Everyday I have time to think (usually whilst doing something utterly mundane like hanging up washing or cleaning or driving somewhere to take someone someplace!) and it’s those occasional musings when I think ‘I must remember that…’ which I’d love to share. It’s my prayer that God would use those times to speak not just to me, but to others out there too.
So here’s my first challenge – to stop viewing writing as something that’s useful (all those endless to do lists…), and rather as something that could be beautiful. And to begin a journey of crafting words together to reflect the beauty that surrounds me -ultimately as an active thank you to the Creator who puts it there.
What do you think? Do we, as consumers, reduce things to their usefulness, or is it possible to live a different way? I’d love to hear your thoughts so please do leave a comment!