We’re in the throes of production season these days. Rehearsals, concerts, shows, and performances dominate our schedule these months as we shove lessons, writing goals, fundraising events, and required human maintenance in the cracks between. By the time I get to Friday I feel like I’ve squeezed out every last drop of value I have to offer. I feel resentment creeping over me when I scroll through social media and see the beautiful things other people are producing. I feel apathy when I open a word document and try to type something meaningful. I feel overwhelmed when I pick up my planner and look at the weeks to come and the tasks within them. I feel uninspired, lethargic, and slightly bitter at all the things other people can manage to pull off.
These feelings are bright red flags waving me down and telling me to stop the output and find some input.
It’s easy to get caught in a one-way pattern of production. Of always giving outward, of constantly pressing forward, of never releasing yourself of the need to produce. I say this from experience. I so often find myself using productivity as the barometer of a well-spent day. Did I stay on task? Did I work hard without stopping? Did I accomplish and achieve? Did I check all those boxes off my to-do list? If not, I feel an overpowering guilt for being lazy, useless, an non-contributive member of society.
I push too hard past my quota to avoid this guilt. I do one more thing instead taking a break. Or, more likely, I attempt to do one more thing but acting from a depleted tank results in little of value. Sloppily written words, ambling tidying of the house, distracted piano practicing that looks more like phone scrolling.
I strain for production when my soul is craving to be refilled.
So I’m creating a new rhythm. I’m moving in cyclical motion rather than always pressing forward. Fill up, pour out, repeat. Input, output, repeat.
It’s not just about taking a break. Taking breaks isn’t hard for me. Its easy for me to sleep until ten and then watch Netflix and eat pizza the rest of the day. But that’s not the kind of rest I’m after. That’s not the soul-filling refreshment I need at the end of these long weeks.
Come Friday night, after the content for the week have been released, after I’ve shared and tweeted and posted, I press down those brightly colored apps until they wiggle, then hit the X in the corner. I log off, I delete apps, I plug my phone into the wall and I walk away. I close the door behind my last student, I put the binder of music in the bench and shut the lid, I resort to left overs and take out. I don’t answer the all the texts or respond to the snaps. I close the curtain on my windows. I turn off alarms and agendas. I don’t run for speed or distance. I say no to output.
On Saturdays I sleep until the sun wakes me up. I go on leisurely walks. I turn on uplifting music. I read the things other people have put out this week. I listen to thoughtful podcasts while I leisurely sweep the floor. I sip coffee because I like the flavor, not because I need to wake up. I sit in a sanctuary and hear the Word of God preached. I linger on the couch with a pile of books piled up beside me. I curl up beside my husband and we watch a movie with a plate of cookies. I say yes to input.
I must be filled up if I am to be poured out. I must put good content in if I ever expect to put good content out. We cannot keep moving in one direction without ever retreating from the forward motion.
Input. Output. Repeat.
What will you fill your soul up with this weekend so that come Monday morning you will have valuable and substantial output to offer your world?