I’m currently unemployed. I started working part-time last year as a teacher which means I no longer get paid in the summer. However, I chose not to find summer work so I could focus on my writing and non-profit. The dream chasing part of this plan is fulfilling and admirable, but the financial reality can be sobering. For me, it’s a test of faith and a shaping of discipline. It also has me wavering between thoughts of “You’re on the right track,” and “You need to be doing more.”
If I’m honest, the subtle whisper of “You should be doing more,” is a voice that’s all too familiar. It’s often accompanied by “what’s next” or “look at this person.” There’s this internal drive to crush goals that has also created an inability to be content. We, often as hard-working Black women, become so absorbed in getting EVERYTHING done, that we don’t always enjoy the fruits of our own labor. We’ve normalized the pursuit of a goal so much that enjoying the acquisition of it is a fleeting moment.
A friend said to me the other week, “There’s a difference between contentment and complacency.” That’s such a powerful statement I have to repeat it.
“There’s a difference between contentment and complacency.”
I feel like I can “drop the mic” here and let that simmer, but I won’t do that to y’all. Shortly after hearing this, I started a plan on the “You Version” Bible app called “Finding Rest in a Busy World” (Aren’t y’all proud of me for practicing what I preach?) The 9-day plan unpacks the story of Mary and Martha, two sisters who hosted Jesus and his disciples when they came into town. While Jesus was speaking, Martha was in the kitchen preparing and hosting whereas Mary sat by Jesus’ feet and enjoyed his company.
I'm Martha. As the story continues, Martha gets mad with Mary and asks Jesus to send her in the kitchen to help, but he instead, responds by saying, “Martha, Martha thou art anxious and troubled about many things.” I’m not sure about y’all, but that statement could not be MORE TRUE about me! Having everything worked out makes me anxious. Making sure life goes according to plan “troubles” me often. In this story Martha was so obsessed with preparing for the moment, she never stopped to ENJOY it. She felt like she and her sister (note the projection) needed to be doing more.
Going back to the quote, contentment is being satisfied, happy, and in a place of gratitude and enjoyment. Right now, I HAVE NO IDEA how my writing and non-profit will ultimately replace my income. But, when I look back at what I’ve written, hear feedback from people who are impacted by my work, and see the personal and professional growth I’ve made over the past few years, I sometimes am surprised at how small I view those MAJOR accomplishments. Like Martha, I’ve MISSED the moment all too often because I overcast it with “You should be doing more.”
Now that I am taking time to slow down (a bit), I’m learning to find places to be grateful for exactly where I am. I am fortunate enough to have the financial discipline and stability to take a summer to work on my dream. Through this, I have the divine opportunity to touch lives. I can’t miss THIS moment, looking at the next one. It’s not fair to the people who need me now. I have lessons I need to learn right where I am, and I don’t want to miss out.
My prayer is that more of us have the peace of knowing we are on the right track. Take some time today to enjoy what you have and have done up to this point. You deserve it!