Hi everyone, Rob here. I’ve spent the last few weeks holed up at home writing an essay for my Masters in Theology that I’ve been working on for far too long. When I got the study leave I had visions of having spare time to visit friends, maybe start that book I’ve been thinking about writing as well as writing a very competent essay. It didn’t work out that way! Instead I got bogged down in my research, didn’t know where to start with the writing and suffered terribly from writers procrastination syndrome (WPC), which I’m sure is a real condition. It was hard work! I got there in the end and even started to enjoy it, but I learnt some things along the way which I thought I’d share with you.
- God first. Yes, obvious I know, but when the urgency of a deadline is looming it is very easy to forego the discipline of spending time with God, reading his Word, and praying from the heart. Things seemed to go much better when I remembered to start the day with God. Coincidence? I think not!
- Total surrender. I had thanked God for the gift of the study leave, but I had not perceived that the essay itself was a gift from God. A curse maybe. A test, definitely. A gift, no. But it was and I needed to start seeing the essay as a co-creation between myself and the Holy Spirit. I needed to let go of all the angst-ridden thoughts that it was all up to me to get this thing done, and allow God’s peace, creativity and joy fill my heart and mind. It helped. A lot.
- Physical exercise. Exercise is another thing that is easily cast aside when deadlines are imminent, but a short daily walk at lunchtime helped me immensely. The fresh air rejuvenated my mind. The movement refreshed my body, and the break from routine relaxed my spirit and helped me to gain perspective. The world became bigger than my office (or son’s bedroom in this case), God’s creation showed his glory and I felt alive again.
- Enjoy the learning. For a while there I was obsessed with the outcome and had lost sight of the process. I was frustrated at not generating much output, and thus had no joy in the learning. Once I let myself become a curious investigator again, I was able to enjoy discovering new things and tying together loose ends. It became a journey of discovery with the Father as my guide.
- Don’t forget the family. The essay may have been ruling my mind but I didn’t want the family to suffer for my obsession. I kept up domestic routines, let the kids interrupt me to tell me about their day and their discoveries, made sure that I kept caring about Kiley’s (my other/better half) well-being, took the weekend off and so on. It wasn’t their essay and it kept me grounded and free from self-importance.
As I write these things I can see how God was with me in the study leave, teaching me and loving me. These are lessons for life and I hope to keep applying them, for the sake of my mind, body and soul. Time will tell if they helped my grade, but they certainly helped me remember who I belong to and who I live for. Thank you Jesus for the constancy of your love and the peacefulness of your presence. Amen.