Captin's Log: pre-pandemic—when everyone was busy, and life was fast-paced, and calendars everywhere were booked and busy. Almost no time to meditate or give careful consideration before life-altering decisions were made.
Everything impulsive, powered by the need for instant gratification. People were obsessed with the all mighty dollar—working excessively long hours, just to make more money, to purchase more things they'll essentially have no time to enjoy. Yet somehow, even that was not enough.
Then down the street in bae-topia, folks were booed-up in droves, and the usies were all laughs and giggles until they weren't. But in my hood around the way, called Church-of-the-Latter-Day-Ain't's', lived folks who mastered going through the motion. It was where you could church it out for seven nights straight but still discover your moral compass wasn't just broken but altogether missing.
As I pondered this notion, I asked myself, "How is it that we spend so much time doing things that end up being meaningless? How is it that the things that truly matter have been replaced with picture 'perfect' opportunities that we post purely for the entertainment of others?
I suppose my good friend Solomon provided a thought-provoking response: "So I set out to learn everything from wisdom to madness and folly. But I learned firsthand that pursuing all this is like chasing the wind. The greater my wisdom, the greater my grief. To increase knowledge only increases sorrow." (Ecclesiastes 1:17-18 NTL)
But then it hit, and I mean more sudden than a woman whose water had just broke—busyness was like a baby shooting out, but legs first. And all that was left of our 'kicking' lives were the cries of boredom. Talk about bored in the house 'cause we in the house bored. The world as we knew it shut down, no work, no socializing, no four-walls called 'the church,' so I had time—time to ponder some things.
Like, "How do I know if all my 'doing' is not in vain, and where can we find this place called 'doing what I love so I never have to work a day in my life'? And is it really possible to find the place where I can genuinely say, as Paul did, "I learned in whatever state I am to be content"? I wouldn't know when or what causes a person to come to this crossroad, but I can tell you it's no small feat when you are in search of 'truth.'
If I were to put it in a phrase, truth is to busyness as confession is to sin. Just ask yourself, "What is it that has me so tired in life?" And I promise if you peel back the layers, you'll probably find what you've been doing has nothing to do with what you should be doing.
Initially, my questions were, "Are you prepared to break it all down and start all over again? If need be, could you take the leap of faith and walk off of a job that all but gives you an ulcer? Can you shed the friends that you consider your ride or die, but when you peel back the layers, they've really added no value to your life? Is it possible to leave a relationship that you know deep down inside doesn't have a future?
Still, you stay to save face at the risk of what I call deliberate self-sabotage? Does being alone frighten you because you're afraid of the sound of your own voice, so much so that if you unmask, that even you may not like the real you? Can you fall back and unbusy yourself just to see what 'you' are all about?" Ironically, many of these scenarios are the present-day reality. I suppose the only question to ask now is, "Are you really gonna go back to the norm?"
Lately, I've seen the prefix 're' attached to a whole bunch of stuff. As I took a closer look at what those two letters do to a word, I came to a personal epiphany. 'Re' is a prefix, originally of Latin origin, meaning "again" or "again and again" to indicate repetition, like "back" or "backward," which means withdrawal or backward motion: i.e. regenerate; refurbish; retrace; revert, etc. You may have heard it said that "I need to rejuvenate or reset," which literally then means to restore to its former state. I soon realized that we often say things without understanding but mostly because we think it sounds good or heard other people saying it.
I mean, is that really what you want, to be restored to your former self? Or, like me, if the pandemic has highlighted nothing else, it proves that I need to be established? Establish, by comparison, means to found, build, or bring into being on a firm and stable basis. When I think of the former me, there's no way in Hades I be going back! The only thing back there is a clear depiction of what 'if trifling was a person' would look like.
You know I have to keep it real. As someone who once allowed my limitations to hold me captive, I never realized or actively used my full potential. From where I stood, there was no capital 'P' on my chest and I was no great big bundle of potentiality. Still, I did countless inconsequential things, most out of repetition rather than necessity. Just doing 'the most' to fill the "I'm busy" quota. All in the efforts to consider myself relevant because, after all, productive people are always doing something, right? Just go head and season that last statement with a dollop of sarcasm, aye!
Anyway, on top of all that, I was also afraid to emote. In my mind, any sign of weakness meant the façade was flawed. So I learned to pretend and very well. Hollywood owes me at least four Oscars and an Emmy. The pretension became so destructive that the line between truth and fiction was dangerously blurred. But who cares?
Because I was regularly pre-occupied doing all the things that I wasn't called to—like relationships, with friends or otherwise. Working overtime but accomplishing nothing. And dare I say, least the General Presbyter hears me, doing Church but having no knowledge of God.
Under perfectly sculpted brows and a precision hair cut was someone who did not want to be authentically herself. Beneath all the trendy threads was someone who felt the need to be liked and accepted by those she apparently deemed more important than herself.
I thought this bubbly personality and these gifts that weren't likened to anyone else's but stood out—all made me a misfit. Regardless, I tried to squeeze in anyway. It took a minute, but I finally got it, that it was okay to say, "No, this isn't for me."
Listen, I practiced. My "No" comes forth like a song. I can sing "No" as a solo or in a choir. I can echo it in falsetto. I can add bravado or do it with a crescendo. I can sing it in unison or in parts, shoot, I even gat adlibs for my 'No.'
These days, before I take on a task, I weigh the options. "Does doing this thing align with my life's purpose? Is it me wanting to be considered significant to the person that asked? You know, like people who thrive on being the only one that can do something in a particular environment?
Am I doing it to be seen? Or, is this task fulfilling why I'm here on earth sucking-up God's good oxygen?" Depending on the answer to those questions, I move accordingly. My new motto is: Just cause I have free time doesn't mean I'm available! And THAT's on Mary's little lamb!
In reality, by whose standard was I continually trying to measure up to anyway? What was the end goal of being rated as some chick that's a hard worker? Honestly, I'm not sure that's even a compliment as much as it is a yoke of bondage. Looka here, don't get caught up in the trap called the hustle. I'm curious to know, myself included, "Why are we relentlessly in pursuit of all the extras? More money, a nicer car, a bigger house, more likes, and a herd of followers; just an avid accumulation of clutter?"
Honestly, if you live alone, how many rooms can your single body occupy at once? Is there a need for 2,000 friends on Facebook when you really only talk to 5, while the other 1,995 are just there to watch the show? Sometimes you need to downsize, cutback, shut off the noise, and focus on the 'you' that requires your complete and undivided attention. Think about this, would you go and pay your friend's electricity bill while yours is disconnected at home? Doesn't make much sense, does it? Well, that's what you look like being busy outside of your purpose.
I'm just saying at some point, self-preservation, which is the first law of nature, should kick in. So instead of re-anything, I discovered what I needed was something only God could do. It was essential for me to be established! Grounded in the truth of who I am and all I am created to be.
Peter says it like this: "But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you." (1 Peter 5:10 NLT) With this kind of establishment, you are not so easily moved. When this occurs in your life, your strength will then be drawn from a source that cannot be depleted.
Honestly, you can revamp, revive, restore, rekindle, remake, repair, rejuvenate, remodel, refresh, renovate, replenish, revivify, recreate, reinvigorate or resuscitate all day long—all you'll find is that you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. That, my friend, is insanity.
You need to find what you should be doing, and if that's one thing, learn to do it well. Listen, trying to be the serial-entrepreneur of the year ain't a real award. Besides, I'm not sure being a serial anything is good. All I've ever heard it referred to as serial killers, rapers and robbers—but I digress.
Look, I'm not saying you don't put your all into anything; my point is you can't allow yourself to be so caught up in the rat race that you don't rest. And by rest, I don't mean sleep or a spa day. As one of my favourite preachers broke it down to me, I'll break it down for you; rest is being reassured and empowered through a state of absolute trust. Trust in what? Well, God—duh! And I promise everything else will fall into place.