Do Less, Relate More
Helen Munt writes:
"What do you want from life?"
God nudged my heart with this question recently and my answer took me by surprise. "Relationships" I said instantly. I hadn't previously given the question much thought, so this wasn't an answer I had prepared. It was more... instinctive. Primal.
Thinking about my response I realised that, ultimately, it's all about relationships. God is relationship within the Trinity. He created us for relationships. He died so that we could remain in relationship with Him, and He encourages us to maintain the highest level in our relationships with others and with Himself.
Bearing this in mind, I know I face a challenge: I do far too much to give proper attention to the relationships in my life. Perhaps I am alone in this, but from what I've heard, I'm not the only one in this struggle. How are we going to safeguard the health of our relationships, and ensure that they remain the primary focus of our lives, when we barely have time to invest in them? From what I've discovered so far, I think it has a lot to do with rest and choices.
When I do too much I get worn out and I don't have as much energy to plug into the lives of my favourite people. Furthermore, I don't have as much quality time to talk with God - so our relationship suffers. The real irony is: the more I rest, the more I somehow manage to get done anyway. Doing less leads to greater rest, which leads to healthier relationships. But... the amount of rest I get depends greatly on the choices I make.
We can't do everything, even though we sometimes wish we could. At the highest level we know this: we know we can't be a full time doctor and a teacher and run our own business whilst being a full-time parent and recording an album. But I think we somehow manage to forget it when it comes to lower-level decision-making. I can certainly fool myself into believing that I have time to do more things in a week than is actually realistic. The problem is, when I make wrong choices and say "yes" to too many things, those things become my priority and my rest and relationships take a hit.
I believe that we therefore need to learn to keep saying no (even when it feels uncomfortable to do so) if we really want to prioritise relationships in the long run.
An Invitation Into a New Season
Before drawing this reflection to a close, I think there's one last crucial question we need to reflect on: why are we even in danger of becoming so busy in the first place? Perhaps my answer is different from yours, but for me, if I'm honest, it's a matter of pride and identity. I feel more important and valuable when I am asked to do things. So I know I need to keep constantly reminding myself that my worth is not even remotely based on what I do - it was set once and for all when Jesus died for me.
I have therefore decided to enter into a new season and invite you to join me: do less, relate more.
I wrote a song, “The Stillness Beckons”, that you may find useful for reflecting further on this subject.
Helen Munt is a singer-songwriter and worship leader based at Streatham Baptist Church in South London. She also works as a receptionist at URC Church House. www.helenmunt.com