Wednesday, October 10, 2012

industry and peace

Having just dropped off Chris, the apartment is silent, save the usual refrigerator hum. The morning light illuminates both the sky and the yellowed trees outside my window. Autumn is setting in, with its jacket-weather days; the vibrant summer-blue is fading from the sky. I sit, thinking. Drinking hot water with honey and lemon. Staring out the window. It's an application of one of my newest thoughts, a principle I've always needed to learn:

When I am stressed, I should take a break to reconnect to why I'm working so hard and thereby find peace.

It's so easy for me -- for all of us, I think -- to run from one project to another. I'm frequently dissatisfied with my progress, wishing I'd made time for X, Y, and Z, feeling like I should have made the time. My anxiety mounts as I harangue myself for not doing what I said I'd do. I rush through my chores, thinking if I can't trust myself to keep my word, how can expect the trust of anyone else? or I stay home all day, and I can't even manage to get that done? I really must not deserve this life.

This is not the way to find joy.

I'm trying to find a happy middle ground between stress and idleness. Days go by when I do spend most of it in that moderate, balanced place. Praying makes a difference, certainly, as does studying the scriptures. Daily devotionals soften my heart, so that I can proceed with the daily business of an orderly home with a methodical sort of joy, instead of dropping hours of my time into the abyss of the internet, and running around like the proverbial decapitated chicken.

It's much less dramatic. The lack of drama is less emotionally stimulating, but it leaves me the energy and peace of mind to do the things that really matter. Besides, when I entrust my heart and hands to the Lord and His work, one step at a time, I find at the end of the day I have made a huge investment. The emotional -- and spiritual -- payoff is so much greater if I sacrifice the dichotomy of anxiety and procrastination for simple, steady industry. And that industriousness is so much easier to attain when, as I'm starting to get stressed, I take an interlude to remember the goal:

Men are that they might have joy.

After a sandpapery sort of morning, I needed that. I'm pausing to seek peace. I'm not getting much done, but I have set aside my to-do list for the moment. Now, I'm prepared in all facets to work with a softened heart and an open mind.

Now, I can not just work -- I can do so with joy.


  1. I loved when Elder Uchtdorf said something in conference about how sometimes we let ourselves be very busy because we feel like it's a measure of how worthwhile we are. (He said it better, obviously!) I try to remind myself of that often, and step back when I find myself in those "busy" times to figure out if I'm doing what I am doing because it needs to be done, or if I'm doing what I'm doing to make myself feel accomplished.

  2. Totally! I noticed his comment too and found myself nodding my head and reaching for my journal.