For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1
The weeks roll on, and yet, it seems that they don’t ever pass. We are, as pastor Conrad said during last week’s sermon, in a liminal space. Liminal spaces are transformative and transitional spaces, when one thing ends, but the new thing has not yet begun. When we live in liminal space, we exist in a neutral zone, across one milestone (in this case, a new virus emerging and going into isolation), waiting on the threshold of the new one (when we are able to go back to pre-COVID norms, or whatever the new norms will be).
Americans are not good at living in neutral zones. We are people of constant action, raised on the Proverb, “Idle hands are the devil’s playground [or workshop]” (Proverbs 16:27). We are a Puritan nation, with ideals that tell us that if we work hard, we are virtuous and somehow more morally pure. Alternately, if we rest for too long, we are somehow morally flawed. Let’s not even talk about the people who don’t work at all or who seek out rest and relaxation – they’re just slackers, and that is a dirty, dirty word.
So, it makes sense that when many of us were confined to our homes we started making lists of things that needed doing. Or things that would keep us busy, or enrich us, or keep our brains functioning at peak performance. As the weeks roll by, however, many of us are finding that the things that we have on our to do lists just aren’t getting done. In the beginning of the pandemic, not getting anything done when we had all the time in the world was a funny meme. Now many of us feel ashamed because we look at that to do list and we feel no motivation. Nothing is getting crossed off our to do lists.
I am here to tell you that there is no shame in resting while we are in this liminal space. There is no shame in staring at the ceiling for an hour because you aren’t feeling motivated or wasting your day away watching The Office for the 25th time (as long as you don’t have things that need to get done). You are not to feel ashamed when you look at Instagram and your friends have baked perfect macarons and you are living off Totino’s pizza rolls (although I would tell you to eat some fruit and vegetables. You do need to take care of your health). I am here to tell you today that if you are feeling shame for being idle, you are to cast that aside.
God’s word does not support shame in those who follow Christ. Jesus despises shame (Hebrews 12:2) and died to abolish it. Romans 8:1 tells us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Shame is directly tied to sin; in fact, Adam and Eve didn’t even know what shame was until they sinned against God and covered themselves to hide their nakedness (Genesis 3:7-11). Shame is not an acceptable part of the Christian life.
God’s word does tell us, however, that there will be times when we need to rest and that during those times, we are to do it. There will be times when the world seems overwhelming, but God will provide, he will protect, and he will carry us through. That there is a time to mourn, and a time to dance, a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing. There is also a time to heal (Ecc. 3:3 – 5).
So, if you need to take this time to rest, rest. If you aren’t getting much done, you’re like just about everyone else right now. If you’re feeling unmotivated, welcome to the club! Be kind to yourself, practice self-care, and do not beat yourself up because of your lowered productivity. Pray that God motivates you to do the things that are important to Him, be sure to reach out to your friends and family, and then take that nap. Abandon your spirit of shame for the calm that is life in the Lord, the one whose very presence who gives us rest (Exodus 33:14).
Until I see you again,
Email Pastor Conrad:
If you haven’t already, could you give me all the names of Vineyard people whom you’ve been contacting (i.e. touching base at least 2 times since our church has gone online)? I want to make sure our people are being cared for. Also, let us know if you need one of our pastors or leaders to contact you during this season. Email Conrad at firstname.lastname@example.org.