By Kathy Petersen, Senior Director of Adult Ministry
Last week I hit a wall. I got to the end of the week and my to do list for work was just as long (maybe longer) than it was at the start of the week. I was working all day going from one Zoom meeting to the next with a phone call tucked in between. And when I did have a gap in my calendar I would go to my “to do” list to try to complete a task. (Ahh such a great feeling crossing something off the list!) By Friday I was feeling a bit defeated and discouraged.
I took some time over the weekend to be still with God. And during this time two things became clear to me. First, I had slipped into equating my identity with what I was doing and producing. My identity had become focused on getting all my responsibilities done well so I had significance. I wanted to make sure others saw me as capable and competent. During my time with God, he reminded me that my identity is in him. I am not defined by the roles I live out (wife, mother, director, volunteer) or the things I achieve, but rather who I am in Christ – His beloved. And in Christ I have unconditional grace and significance. He is the one who sustains me and equips me for the work he has called me to. (Ephesians 2:10)
The second thing I realized is that I slipped into this confusion of my identity because the rhythms I had established in pre-COVID-19 life disappeared. I no longer had any margin in my day and week. I was reminded of a talk by Julia Font on the importance of white space (whitespaceatwork.com). She described white space as the intentional margin we put in our day between meetings or commitments that allows us the time to think and be still. It was an ah-ha moment when I realized that I needed to create a new weekly rhythm that allowed me intentional white space. Creating moments (minutes) of white space is not a waste of time. When I allow myself to be for a moment, without feeling the need to produce or document, I give myself the space I need to preach the gospel to myself, to take a deep breath and ask God for what I need for my next task, and to remind myself that I am not defined by what I do but by whose I am.
Our lives have taken on new rhythms out of necessity. As you engage in all you are doing I want to encourage you to give yourself intentional moments (minutes) of white space throughout the day so that you can preach the gospel to yourself.
Are you allowing your tasks and responsibilities to define your identity? Or does your identity in Christ define how you are approaching your tasks and commitments? You don’t need a filled calendar, successful children, or a good performance appraisal to confirm your value. You are made alive in Christ and by his grace you are saved (Ephesians 2:4) – nothing you do will add to or take away from your identity in Christ. Hold tight to this truth especially as you go through this COVID-19 time of multi-tasking, juggling schedules, and finding new rhythms.