Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Diligence and Anxiety

The hand of the diligent shall bear rule: but the slothful shall be under tribute.  
-Proverbs 12:24 
I think Proverbs 12:24 might end up being my verse for the year. I’ve been in Psalm 28 for the last two years, but . . . but now, this is probably it.

I keep trying to explain why, to write about why, and talk about it, and I feel like I keep losing my words. I think it’s because I keep trying to talk about it while I’m slightly anxious. That’s never the best time to do anything (but, me being me, that's sometimes the only time I have).

Speaking of which . . . maybe that’s how I can explain it: diligence saves me when I’m anxious.  Because diligence doesn’t submit to anxious questions. When my emotions and mind are spinning with, “what if? what if? what if?” diligence answers, “Now do this. Okay, good. Now, do this. Okay, good. Now . . .” and is not flustered.

Diligence calms me, if only by forcing me to work. Not franticly, but properly.

Diligence knows what is next and commands me to keep walking.

And the walking itself brings me to a place of peacefulness inside. Because if I am doing (not hurrying! not scrambling! just steadily doing), then I am seeing progress. And eventually, I am seeing completion: that floor is clean, that chapter is edited, that email is sent, that batch of dishes is done.

For a long time, my housekeeping motto has been: Not Perfect, But Better.

Diligence improves that. Diligence makes it: Not Perfect, But Better . . . And Now Better Again. And Now Better Again.

Diligence is refocusing every time my anxiety causes me to careen off into the wild blue. 

Diligence says, “Don’t worry about what might happen; do what you already know is your duty.”

It reminds me of what Corrie Ten Boom said (and I’m quoting from memory here, so forgive any lack of accuracy): “Don’t worry about the parts of the Bible you don’t understand. Worry about the parts you understand but don’t obey.”

Diligence is the obeying. It is the action.

Not in a scurrying rush to be found acceptable or to prove my worth. But in simple gratitude that I have good work to do.

Huh. Diligence is gratitude.

I like that.

Peace of Christ to you,
Jessica Snell


jen said...

Actually, diligence makes sense. They tell anxious people to just "do the next thing" frequently in therapy.

Jessica Snell said...

Jen, that's a great point!