One of the areas of life I constantly hold in tension is the balancing act of finding self-worth in what I am able to accomplish vs. recognizing the intrinsic worth of just being the person I am, created as a unique individual. With great appreciation to Frank Sinatra for his rendition of "Strangers in the Night", from which came the signature refrain, "do-be, do-be, doooo...." I have long thought of this dichotomy as the War of Doing or Being.
I know I'm not alone. All over the world, people attempt to validate themselves with what they achieve on To-Do lists, which may include entries such as:
Do the laundry
Do my homework
Do the bathroom
Do the yard work
Do the job
Even something as sublime as love-making is referred to as "doing". On TV and in movies, it's common (not to mention vulgar and unappealing) to hear one character say s/he would be happy to "Do" another.
When did we stop being? When did we decide that it was no longer enough to be who we are are, and to be that person to our ultimate level of being? When did our value become exclusively the product of effort, instead of the treasure of who we are?
I have yet to see lists like this one:
Be fastidious about my clothing
Be excited and engaged in the learning opportunities I am offered
Be aware of the condition of my personal living spaces
Be the host/ess who offers guests a beautiful welcome, including gleaming glasses & silverware
Be entrusted with a tiny corner of the planet, to keep it healthy and growing
Be committed to honorable work, no matter how humble or how exalted it may be
A troubling corollary to this is that we extend this struggle beyond our day planners to our spiritual and creative lives. We compose internal lists such as these:
Do XYZ job at church, synagogue, temple, ward house, or whatever
Do (Women's/Men's/Youth/Children's) ministry jobs
Do interminable and only marginally interesting or downright boring God-jobs out of guilt or because *someone's* got to do them
Do my best to squeeze in every activity I think will ensure right relationship with the Divine
During Lent, I notice I pay more attention to the being side of things although it can be difficult. What would it be like if our inner lists were replaced by an internal memo which instructed us:
"Pay no attention to the To-Do List. For today, try just to be........."
I wonder who gets to sign the memo. I frankly enjoy thinking I have the power to sign it myself, although realistically I know it would be co-signed by parents, teachers, etc. since they all contributed as much as I did to writing out the original list.
But what if we believed, really believed, that we are valuable just because we are created by God and wonderful just in the person we are? What if we could imagine the memo came from the very top of the company?
What if it were signed by God....