Perhaps the title of the post should instead be “Un-learning Do-ing.” Doing, of course, is not a bad thing. What we do is very important to God in many ways and is part of who he made us to be–and we will explore that in an upcoming month.
But in our discussion of be-ing, do-ing can be a real danger. It is dangerous when what we do entirely defines who we are. It is even more dangerous, I think, when doing becomes inextricably linked with how we “use” time–When everything must be utilitarian, practical, or some sort of accomplishment. And it can be especially dangerous when doing = contentment and goodness while non-doing = discontent and discomfort that must be avoided at all costs.
This is certainly not a personal campaign for laziness! That is not the non-doing I’m talking about. For me, this comes down to the practices and disciplines that strip away, for a moment, the protections and habits that insulate us from seeing our real state — the busynesses and myriad of to-dos that cocoon us in a spiritually static state of preoccupation.
There are many practices that help us learn to be — practices I need because they are in a sense so hard at times and thus reveal how necessary they are.
Spiritual disciplines fit different people in different situations at different times. In an interview with an author recently, she reminded me that the disciplines are not a generic aspirin we prescribe to feel all better about life and God. No, we each may need different things in order to better know and experience God in a given season in our life. So with that warning in mind — that these are not a generic prescription! — here are some disciplines and practices that can help us better learn be-ing and strip off, at least temporarily, an obsession with doing:
• Fasting. For me, it may be a much needed fast from technology and an easily formed addiction to social networking. For you, it may be another type of fast.
• Walking. Simple: A walk outdoors, a breath of fresh air, a chance to let swirling thoughts swirl themselves out into a mental calm and a time to listen.
• Silence and Solitude: Intentionally getting away from others and from noise, at least for a time.
• Contemplation and Christian meditation: Focusing on God or God’s Word for an extended period of time in an attitude of prayer, listening, openness, and awareness of God’s presence.
• Sabbath: We’ll discuss this more this month, but this one is key and is oh, so hard at least for me and in our stage of life. This is a practice for the Lord’s Day of abstaining from work and focusing on re-creation with God. I believe one can also aim to foster a “Sabbath-mindset” that embraces Sabbath times and attitudes in moments other than Sunday.
• A commenter on a previous blog post of mine suggested a practice that sounds wonderful and difficult at the same time: 30-minutes a week of doing nothing. No journaling. No specific praying or reading. Just be-ing with God. I love that idea!
There are certainly other practices that help us learn to be. Will you join me this week in seeking God’s leading? How will you set aside time to “be” with God? What “do-ing” will you set aside for awhile as you find a truer and more authentic sense of who you are in God alone?