From an early age (mainly freshman year of high school), I was told that I needed to build up my resumé. If I wanted to get into college (and with good scholarships), I needed to be “well-rounded.” But what exactly is well-rounded? In my 14-year-old brain, I figured that “well-rounded” meant that I had to do as much as humanly possible in as many different disciplines as well as I could.
So I got involved.
But no one told me to stop. No one told me that I was doing too much. I thought I was doing what I was supposed to do.
So I continued the tradition my first semester of college.
But then I studied abroad and experienced life outside of the frenzied Theatre world and outside of the rushed American life. I lived in a warm, easy-going, slow-paced, and relationship-based Latin-American culture.
And it was a breath of fresh air.
A time to relax. Reflect. Enjoy.
Then I came home. If you’ve ever lived abroad (or away) for an extended period of time, you know the difficulties of readjusting. You’re different, but people expect you to be the same. And it’s hard.
So I got sucked back into the American lifestyle. But I didn’t like it. I missed the freedom and leisure time of Chile. I missed living without a schedule some days.
And I had someone speak some wisdom into my life. I was encouraged to leave some unnecessary activities and focus on the important ones. And I was challenged with this question:
“Why do you do so much?”
And I struggled to answer it directly. But I began to see what my issue was. My full schedule was a distraction. A time filler. Something to make me “good enough.” Something I used to prove myself to others. I based my self-worth in my titles. We can blame our credential society for some of that. But we also can blame ourselves for some of those attitudes. We encourage people to get involved, but don’t seem to have an upper limit. We place value on activities, and not on relationships.
But what really matters at the end? The strong resume, or the people you poured into and those who poured into you?
I personally think relationships trump activities.
It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilization—these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.yin
– C.S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory
Everyone we interact with is an eternal being. We have the power to influence which side of eternity they get to experience. Every snub or misplaced word can cause pain. Every encouraging word or time spent listening can embolden and give joy.
So I think in the midst of this blessed time, it is important to reflect on our interactions with others, or lack thereof. Are there activities in your life that impede your ability to serve our Lord and Savior? Are there things you need to spend more time doing? Are there extras in your life that only bring you down?
Don’t be stuck overachieving with no true purpose. If you are searching for value, look in God’s eyes. Meditate on Psalm 139. You are a delight to God. Find your worth in Him.