I didn’t journal much this past year. The 365 days of life - 8,760 hours of being, doing, and dreaming only filled about fifteen pages in the really cool leather journal I bought expectantly last January from Barnes and Noble.
I confess that when I bought the journal, I thought I’d fill it up by year’s end. It’s not that there weren’t enough wonderful or terrible things to say - I just didn’t take time to say them. The truth is, I may have smelled some flowers in 2014, but today, on December 30th, I don’t remember what they smelled like.
My memories of the year are a long blur of my kids' smiling and crying faces, geysers and bison, water projects in Haiti, laughing and crying about church planting, and laughing and crying about eating way too much spicy food in Thailand. In the blur I can focus on the hopefulness in my wife Rachel's eyes about new doors God opened for us this year. I remember the joy in her eyes snowboarding alongside her while she skied the annoying, meandering greens of Steamboat with all the ski-school kids (even though she skis like a pro).
The reason for the blur is something I need to confess: I am guilty of way too much doing and not enough being this past year. For example, on a cloudless summer day, I could have my physical eyes on Aisha begging me to see how she could do a flip on the trampoline, but inside, my guts would be churning about my next staff meeting. I could smile and high-five a shirtless, muscle flexing, Hulk-impersonating Gabriel, but inside I’m groaning about what I haven’t accomplished yet. I could sit and listen to someone tell me, through tears, about how God is completely revolutionizing their life through Pathways, and my mind could wander for a moment to all the things wrong with Pathways. At times I was so busy climbing the mountain of 2014 that I forgot to enjoy the trail. Some days I was so worried about where I wasn’t that I forgot to fully be where I was. And my heart breaks, because all too soon, Aisha won’t be in the backyard doing flips on the trampoline, and Gabriel won’t be a smiley and scrappy little boy growling like the Hulk.
Perhaps you share my sorrow here. Perhaps we should make this a group confession! What did you lose to the blur? What, or whom, did you fail to appreciate, love, serve, or engage deeply with because you were living at 110% effort and warp speed? It’s like our eyes were so constantly fixed on every tomorrow that every today slipped away without a memory.
It wasn’t always this way. We’ve learned to be busy. We’ve learned to lose life by trying too hard to gain it. A long time ago, our hearts began beating while we floated around carelessly, content to do nothing but listen to Mom’s sweet voice and feel the steady rhythm of her heart. No doing there. Only being. And in that being, we were completely loved. Our lives were immeasurably valuable. While we were covered in more affection than our tiny minds could comprehend, there were no mountains to climb, no tasks to accomplish, and no one to impress. You and I spent nearly 10 months bobbing around in the most intimate, tender, and loving environment imaginable - and we did nothing to earn the great affection that was toward us. God was also with each of us while we were being knit together marvelously in our mothers' wombs. He fell insatiably in love with us there, without our doing anything, because our primary calling as beings is to…well...to be. Our existence in Him is what pleases God most, not our doings for Him. Our existence with our friends and family is what pleases them most, not our doings for them. I am embarrassed by how often I forget this.
Moses and Joshua fulfilled their highest calling when they just sat with God in the Tent of Meeting there in the desert. Mary was doing just fine sitting at Jesus’ feet. There was no need to be frantically slaving away with Martha, who was displeasing the Master by trying so hard to please him. It is by lounging in the tent of meeting, by silently abiding, through simple, raw being with Him that our hearts are filled with what they long for most, and a smile is formed across His face. Likewise, in the stressless joy and silly laughter of being fully present with family and friends, we become fully present with our lives as they were intended to be; away from performance - separate from achievement or a need for perfection.
So - I’m learning that doing flips with Aisha on the trampoline and flexing my muscles with Gabriel and Levi is what takes me to the place where I really belong - where I’m most alive. Shedding tears with other humans, slowly and patiently wading into their stories, feels almost as sacred as entering the tent of meeting - and it is there that my soul has a sense that nothing else really matters.
I invite you to BE with me in 2015. I invite you not to worry so much about the doing — that will flow naturally out of the being. And may the sights, smells, storms, sunshine, and smiles of 2015 fill the pages of our journals as we engage fully with Him, and with those who matter more than any deed done.
Jeremy Williamson is the founder and Lead Pastor of Pathways Church in Fort Collins, Colorado.