Hi, my name is Jessie, and I'm a productivity addict.
I love to-do lists and planners.
I sometimes add things to my to-do list after I've done them just to get the satisfaction from checking them off.
I'm task-oriented more than I am people-oriented.
I'm not claiming that those things are good or the right way to live; I'm just admitting that's how I'm wired.
It's hard for me to feel like things are worthwhile sometimes if they're not productive. If there is nothing to me to measure, no tangible results from my effort, did I really do anything at all?
I read Emily P. Freeman's book A Million Little Ways a while ago, but this quote really stuck with me:
"I am bound to my own usefulness, bigheaded with my own accomplishments, crushed by my shortcomings. I am capable of making beautiful art, but I am also capable of turning the art into something it was never meant to be. I miss the presence of Jesus in my current moments. I miss the soul breath. I miss the smallness, the doorway through which I must walk to find freedom from the ever-moving treadmill of life...I have forgotten my truest identity. I am a poem, but I live tethered to my programs." -Emily P. Freeman, A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live
I know deep down that I'm more than just what I can accomplish, more than the metrics and status and numbers, but that knowledge flies in the face of our accomplishment and accolade-driven culture.
I want to believe that I'm more than my job, my awards, my title, my net worth. But how can any of us do that in a world that places such high value on those things at the apparent expense of others?
The thing that's helped me more than anything else has been choosing to change my perspective. Yes, it's nice to have a prestigious job (I assume), a large salary (probably), or some fancy award or popularity (maybe? I hear those come with unwanted strings), but they're not the only things that matter. And I'd like to think they're not even the things that matter most.
So what does matter most? Our character. Our love. Our kindness. Our righteousness. Our relationships. Our art.
To put it succinctly: our identity in Christ.
In Him, we have everything we will ever need. We have security, love, grace, forgiveness, provision, protection, guidance, community, and a promise of eternity with Him in Heaven. What more do we need? (The answer is nothing.)
And once we know who we are, we can come to understand what we were created to do.
We were created as God's masterpieces, which is a truth I just can't get over. He created us as His workmanship, as art created to create art. We've been made in His image, endowed with gifts, which means we're artists, too, whether in conventional or unconventional ways. We've been given unique sets of skills and talents --unique expressions of our art-- to use to glorify Him and serve others.
My worth isn't found in the number of things I accomplish on any given day or the title attached to my name. I have nothing to prove, and I am free to spend my resources-- my time, money, and energy-- investing in things that really matter, not just on the things that this world tries to tell me matter.
CHOOSING PEOPLE OVER PRODUCTIVITY
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if we've crossed off everything on our to-do lists if we haven't invested in relationships.
Art and relationships don't function on a schedule or fit neatly into a to-do list. They're bigger and harder to confine than that. They run deep in our blood and our bones. They are what we were created to pour into, to give our lives to.
If I cleaned my whole house, prepped food for the week, created all my marketing material, fit in a workout, and ran to the grocery store, I wouldn't be any more competent, successful, or loved than I am right now. And I wouldn't feel any more satisfied because when it comes down to it, those aren't the things that really matter.
But if I take time to read my Bible, spend time praying for my friends, family, the world, and myself, and if I invest time and energy in relationships by sacrificing my to-do list for time with friends, then I feel like my time was truly well-spent. And if I choose to focus on encouraging others, living with joy, working hard to write uplifting words, and share the joy I've been given, although I may see no measurable results by way of more followers or monetary gain, those things matter because they're pouring out of the gifts and art inside me.
No, those things don't create any tangible results. No, there are no metrics to use to measure the worth of that time. But those aren't the most important things. Relationships are. Art is. People are.
I find that it helps me to keep my goals and priorities in line when I remind myself of my real identity through some affirmations. I have some of them on my to-do list as a recurring item so I see them everyday.
Some people write them on sticky notes or on their bathroom mirrors where they can see them everyday. I encourage you to take these or create your own affirmations and put them where you can see them everyday to remind you of the truth of who God is and who you are.
I am a beloved daughter of the King of Kings.
God is in control.
God is my strength, my provision, my solid ground.
I was made to encourage and love others.
I always have a choice.
I am pursuing joy in all things.
I have nothing to prove.
People matter more than things.
Presence matters more than perfection.
Today I hope that you are reminded, too, that people matter more than things, that productivity isn't the highest thing we're called to, and that you are more than what you accomplish or attain.
And if you're unsure what your gifts and talents are, what your art might look like, I'd love to chat with you about it!
A Million Little Ways: Uncover the Art You Were Made to Live by Emily P. Freeman
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