A blessing for the unproductive times

Hi friends,

I’m slowly rebuilding rhythms of work and rest this week, after taking a couple weeks off from most things due to COVID. I’ve also been reflecting on the ickiness of the feeling of being so unproductive during that time. I mean, I was very productive in terms of watching reality TV, but…not so much otherwise.

My friend Amy invited me to try this thing called Two-Way Prayer with her, and we’ve been doing this prayer thing pretty regularly over the phone. Basically, we just take ten or so minutes of silence, during which we both individually ask God anything on our minds, wait a moment, and then write down whatever comes to mind. 

I don’t know that I exactly see these things I write as God speaking to me. I’m skeptical of the assumption that words that come to us come directly from God—not in the sense that I think God never speaks to people that way; I just think we’re often wrong about it. So it’s good not to assume too quickly.

I guess I see what I write down during these Two-Way Prayer times as some mix of what God might want to say to me and what the best version of myself wants to say. And I’m okay with that.

I think about what Sikh American author/filmmaker/activist/faith leader Valarie Kaur told Karen Walrond in an interview, in Walrond’s book The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: “Whenever I wondered, ‘What should my role be in this moment?’ I came to hear the voice of a very wise woman inside me.”

I like this idea of listening for the “very wise woman inside me.” And I don’t find it incompatible with my (Christian) faith. 

Why couldn’t God speak in that way? And if it’s less God and more the wisdom inside me (if that’s even a meaningful distinction), does that matter? It’s still a good voice to listen to. A very wise voice. 

So I take these Two-Way Prayer sessions seriously, and I feel like I get a lot out of them, even though the way I view how God may or may not speak is different from what it used to be. And I wanted to share with you (a revised version of) what I wrote most recently, reflecting on my experience of COVID and an uncomfortably unproductive couple of weeks. 

I hope it blesses you with the freedom to rest, and to give and receive grace. This is what I wrote:

You are worth more than your productivity. The way your work is flexible and you are free to take time off is a gift to be thankful for, not something to feel guilty about. It is how things should be.

The point is not to accomplish as many things and complete as many tasks as possible, but that the work you do and the way you do it is good, true, and healing. Times of sickness are part of being human; they are times to slow down, rest, and remember your valuejust for being.

You worry about disappointing people, but people often have more grace for you than you have for yourself. I have more grace, too. Rest in that grace. You are enough.

I don’t measure things in the same ways humans do. I don’t worry about the outward appearance, but the heart.

Your work is not made meaningful by deadlines, pay, numbers, or accountability systems; it is meaningful when it is loving, kind, and wise. 

Amen. I invite you to receive any parts of this blessing that may speak to you. And feel free to add anything else you might imagine God—or the very wise woman within you—saying.

May we learn to see and value our work—and our rest, and all the other daily things that make up our lives—in the way God does. May we know the God who invites us to rest—not just while sick, but also as part of a regular rhythm of life. May we know that we are worthy in our unproductive times.

Peace to you.


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