My wise friend Angela has an unfamiliar truth to share with you today. We ought to be more familiar with it, I admit, but in a society of go go go, do do do, feeling productive in the stillness is counter-intuitive. I pray this encourages you in the same way Jesus encouraged Martha (Luke 10:38-42). After soaking this in, you will want to see Angela’s new book Flourish, which has more goodies contained in its pages than I can even tell you!
We often talk about growing ourselves physically, emotionally, or spiritually, and most of the time we mean that kind of growth that everyone can see. Let’s go a little deeper (literally); let’s talk about truly flourishing. Flourishing includes the entire process of rest, of quiet, of taking in nutrients. Flowers and crops require a dormant season that lasts much longer than their blooming phase.
I believe scripture is clear- part of our calling on earth is to work, and to create. God Himself modeled this for us in Genesis at the foundation of our world. But we often forget that He both modeled and commanded we rest amidst our work! We also forget that while we do work, He is the one that enables us, and gives our work worth.
Something to Show For It
For me personally, there has always been a struggle between the now and the not-yet, the process versus the end result.
If my work can’t be quantified or assigned a value, then in a sense I feel like I have failed.
If I haven’t produced something others can see and affirm, I’ve failed. And maybe the worst, if I don’t feel, hear, and see that affirmation, I can question my worth or the worth of my work. And for a mama with a husband and five children, this can be dangerous because marriage and parenting require the deepest commitment of our hearts, and a consuming amount of time to do it well, often with seemingly little to show for it.
Truthfully speaking, this kind of thinking is dangerous for us all, because when our eyes are mostly set on— and our value defined by—producing, by being visible to others, our hearts are distracted from the primary purpose of our lives—to honor the God who made us.
Fixing Our Eyes On What Is Unseen
There’s a truth about the kind of creating God actually asks of us: His kind of work isn’t just about the product or its visibility to a worldwide audience. Sure, He calls some to speak in a way that is to a larger platform than others. Ultimately, the work He asks of us is all about the heart behind it. He will give us exactly the kind, and the amount, of work to shape the heart that best reflects Himself. And as far as who sees it, well, He gets to decide that. And oh, man, His timing is most definitely not ours.
While we may be tempted to focus on the visible “producing” we do, the feedback from the world that tells us we’ve been seen by others, 2 Corinthians 4 is an encouraging reminder to God’s people that it’s vital we see this life from His perspective. Verse 18 in particular tells us, “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” That means we worry less about what we can see, and what others can see of us, and more about what our heavenly Father sees. No worries – He will shape our hearts, minds, and desires such that what others do see brings good and glory.
Growth by the Gardener’s Standard
Micah 6:8 assures of this: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
So while yes, we are to be working hard and growing, that work may be a lot simpler than what we make it to be. (Side note: There are all kinds of lessons we can learn from growing things, as in, the kind of growing that happens in the dirt.) In order to flourish, we are to be about feeding ourselves good food – by mouth and by mind. We are to be about stretching toward the Son, as He will grow us on His good time.
We are to be about flourishing by His standards, which may or may not mean we create flashy, visible blooms… but it certainly means we have incredible purpose in His kingdom.
Practical Ways to Flourish Silently
For you, that might mean accepting that this season is all about taking care of an aging parent, being “all in” in the time you have with him or her. It might mean that you need to get serious about studying your Bible for yourself, going beyond the sweet words of a favorite writer or singer, to really understanding who God is and what that means for your life. Perhaps you’re being called to serve faithfully in your less-than-perfect current job, building character traits like timeliness and respect for authority.
Accepting where we are without man-made striving, while leaning into what God has next with trust and patience, is incredibly freeing.
Ultimately, flourishing is not just about what we produce. It’s not just about what others can see on the outside.
The dormant seasons, the quiet ones, matter.
They are a beautiful part of our growth! What we’re learning when no one’s looking, what we’re gaining in a day of “radio silence,” the energy we need from a nap we can only take if we cross something off the calendar, those are part of our fruitfulness as women. Those help to define what flourishing looks like for each one of us.