Do vs. Be

I’ve read a lot of things over recent years that have convinced me that my “Type A” personality needs to take a chill pill. I have spent WAY too much of my life focused on getting a list of things done, basing my personal value on my accomplishments (whether quantity or some desired specific goal being met). I’ve internalized to some extent this concept: my worth is not determined by what I do, but by who I am. I am God’s child, I am His friend, I am all these wonderful things because I am in Christ.

With that bit of backdrop to give you some context for where I’m at mentally / spiritually, here’s tonight’s ponderance. . . I was washing the dishes and imagining a conversation with my husband.

“What do you want to do tonight, honey?”

“I don’t know. What do YOU want to do?”

“No, sweetie, I want to bless you — what would you like?”

“Well, I want to bless you, too — what are YOU in the mood for?”

And yes, sometimes it goes on… and on… like those two crows in the old Disney cartoons. “I dunno, whataYOUwannado?”

From a Specific Example Comes General Revelation

I thought about the things I usually like to do with him: watch movies, play computer games, watch good preaching, etc. I wondered why I often seem to shy away from sitting down specifically to “just talk”. I realized that in some part, I probably don’t like doing this because 1) I often walk away from our conversation with a list of to-do items and 2) I often walk away from these conversations with a list of things to repent of and/or change in my life or daily routine.  *sigh*

So I thought, what if I knew our conversation would be pleasant and free of any to-do items or emotionally trying discussions? Would I still avoid “just talking”? Is this an area where I need to apply more “be” vs. “do”? Are there people who enjoy just “being” with each other? Not even talking, just “being”?

Weird concept. Just sitting there, doing NOTHING?

But… but… but… could that be right?

Am I missing something vital because of my typical Type-A approach?

Is Being Really About Doing Nothing?

So I thought about my ideal vacation or recreational activities. Aren’t any of them “just being”? Well, I could play in the water and swim for hours and just enjoy the sensations of “being” in the water. I could sit in the forest and “just be” by a tree or watching the ants do their jobs for days. I love going for walks.

And yet… when I really examined each of these things, there wasn’t really any “just being” that was totally free from “doing”. Swimming and walking are stress relieving exercise. Walking especially I find enjoyable because of how well it facilitates my prayer time and hearing from the Lord. I have most of my best conversation with Him while walking or driving.

I love to sit in the forest, but again, it’s because I hear from Him — and often I record what I hear in writing or art. I never picture myself in the forest without picturing a notebook or sketchbook in my hand (or lately, a camera).

Then it dawned on me: For me to just “be” is to “be” who I am: an artist, a writer, someone who loves to hear from God and express what I see and hear. I am happiest “just being” when I am doing what I am made to do.

So What’s the Difference?

So then, the difference between the “be” vs. “do” is that to do is so focused on the doing, not enjoying who you are or what you’re doing, but driving and pushing towards some end result as if that is the desired goal. To do places the reward or satisfaction in the realm of the temporal and makes the joy dependent on the performance of the task. That’s the negative of the”do” idea.

To be is to be in the “eternal now”, living the present moment to the fullest and enjoying the being (and doing of being). The reward is immediate and yet never limited to time and space. If your satisfaction is centered in being who you are in Him, then you are ALWAYS satisfied, whatever you’re doing — now and forever. That’s the key to “just being”.

If this is true, then it’s not about doing nothing so much as it is about being who you are and enjoying everything you do by being in the moment. So whatever I do with my husband, be myself and enjoy him being himself. Don’t focus on the TV show or the computer game — or even the good preaching. Be joyous and creative and loving and attentive and curious and eager and enthusiastic in everything.

Don’t “just be” but totally be (who I am in Christ) in whatever I do.


And now I’m only left with one niggling question: is this a cop out, or is this revelation?

This entry was posted in Epiphanies. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply