What Happened When I Quit Working

She rests on me so I cannot move. The hours are as full as my arms and yet my head has more goals than these hands are free to do. By the end of the day, it’s a wonder what was accomplished – not a single piece of laundry even folded.

Yet she still lies on my chest, the short, punctuated cadence of her breathing swells up and down just beneath my chin. I should be doing but I am just being.

So it seems. And I hope that is okay.

It won’t be long from now when she’ll no longer need to rest like this. I won’t hear this gentle warmth whispering quiet healing to my soul. We won’t be here in this moment because that time will have passed.

I know this, so I surrender to this season of undone days.

I know this, so I surrender to this season of undone days. But it is no easy task. In fact, it is one of the hardest things to do.

This girl has only ever worked. At 16 years old, I launched myself into the workforce after begging my parents to let me go. Once old enough for a permit, I was out the door, eager to earn my keep. I learned to take care of myself, be responsible, pay the bills… be productive. I provided for myself out of necessity but more so out of a deep desire to make my own way.

And I have only ever made my own way since. That work permit transformed into decades of pursuing career goals and finding affirmation in a job done well. In essence… being productive.

But then I quit. Or so I thought.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is–his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Let me be real: I let go of a long-established job to sit here with her but this mind still sits behind a desk, begging to be productive. She breathes in quiet contentment as frustration builds in me. My arms are full but it’s the mind that wrestles.

Oh, how memory chains the soul that does not acknowledge its freedom? How else could my hands be unshackled from work yet behave as though they are still bound?

Be productive, work for your wage, earn your keep… provide. These are the well-grooved mantras carved deep in the psyche. How can I produce anything when these arms are this full? How can I even pursue being productive? How can I provide?

I can’t. And I will never be able to… until I redefine what productive means.

Until I surrender this idea that not working is somehow always irresponsible.

Until I give up this notion that time is money.

Until I submit in my heart what my will has already accomplished: obedience to God’s call in this season.

Until my mind is renewed and these well-grooved patterns of thinking about work and provision and who my provider really is are transformed.

I’ve freelanced before (read: been unemployed). I’ve gone for long stretches of seasons without the 9-to-5 paycheck. I’ve even served for a time as a support-funded missionary. Yet, in each season, producing something was a short-term venture. Producing results was always the end goal.

Today, as I sit here with her, the truth that we’re both in this for the long-game is knocking at my door. And I must surrender… put an end to the mental wrestling, lay aside the frustration for the joy before me.

That joy rests on my chest… my greatest work yet… a daughter who will one day see the sacrifice of obedience, the fits of frustration and corresponding grace, the transformation, and ultimately the good and pleasing will of our Father.

And that is perhaps the most productive thing I could ever do.

*** In what way is God calling you to redefine what productive means? Share your thoughts with me below. I’d love to here your perspective.

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