I am resting this week, giving my body time to heal not only from all the training that I have been doing but also all the travelling.
That means that I can’t truthfully state, “I am so busy,” when people ask me what I have been up to. Concurrent with this discovery that I am not so busy, I came face to face with a brief article and a video regarding sloth. Before I finished reading the articles, I could see myself. It hurt, but it was enlightening. Here is what I found.
“Busy” is as common an answer to “how are you doing?” as any other answer nowadays. When we tell someone that we are busy, we do two things. First, we feel that we are being honest, in that we really ARE being honest. No one says, “busy” if they don’t think that they are. However, the 2nd event that occurs when we tell someone we are busy is that we tell them, “we are using our time and our resources to get the most out of life and engage in the most number of events and activities that we can.” Socially, this is a great strategy to get a “thumbs up,” response from the listener. No one likes a lazy person. We equate sloth with laziness, unemployment, retirement, and the like. Busy is translated as making a positive impact to society.
Sloth, though, is not the same thing as lazy, and it is not the opposite of busy. Sloth means “without care,” from the Latin word acedia.
I have never considered myself to be a sloth. Then, again, until I read these stories and watched the video, I wasn’t sure what slothfulness looked like, outside of my elementary school definition of the word.
What does a Sloth look like? First off, they are careless. They don’t finish what they start. They don’t take care of items that are important to them. They don’t take care of relationships. They don’t take care of their bodies.
They have dreams, though. They think that they work “smart,” and don’t realize that they are not living up to their potential. They are leaving God’s gifts unused. Think of the story of the talents.
Sloths are addicted to things other than what God intends. We have never heard of anyone getting addicted to listening to the radio, yet we all know people who are addicted to TV/Netflix/Youtube. I don’t really know why that is true, but those addictions and binge-watching events that we participate in are a form of sloth. They are not just “resting times,” but times when we are not making a difference in anyone’s lives.
Sloths are resistant to act without prompting. A sloth is, by definition, a procrastinator.
Sloths are discouraged at signs of difficulty. The unknown scares the sloth, even if the unknown is a good thing. There first though when presented with the unknown is a “what if,” response, even if the words are kept to themselves.
As I taught this to the staff at my company last week, I could not help thinking that I am being a hypocrite. I see now that the intensity and volume of my exercise and my success competing and sharing what I have learned with others had misled my view of self. Sure, everyone CAN do better, but my CAN do had become too comfortable to me.
I decided it was time to address my sloth! On Monday afternoon, I started coming to terms with the reality that I have a multiplicity of relationships that I have not nurtured the way that I should have. This is not limited to traditional “family and friends” circles. I have professional contacts whom I said I would get back to but haven’t. I have friends whom I have wanted to call but haven’t. Sloth is overcome by action, but I wanted to enlist God, first.
I prayed for discernment. I feel like I got it. I had a professional contact whom I only barely know break down and cry on me at an event this week. I called her and have been praying for her since. No, she hasn’t returned my call, but she was placed in my life for a reason. In another instance, some friends in Texas burdened my heart while driving home from an event. I quickly sent them a message, asking, “why are you guys on my heart, right flipping now?” Keep in mind that I hadn’t talked to either of them in 6 months. The answer I got was, “well, could be that is the date that our baby is due.” There is no way I could have known that she was due that day.
Earlier this week, I met a woman whom I could tell was looking for great connection. During our first meeting, I discovered she was looking for new employment in a place where she could make a greater difference. She was 40 and married but didn’t have any children. She desired fitness but didn’t have a plan or mentor in place to help her get to where she dreamed to be. Yet, she had Nepal on her bucket list. I invited her to join me in Nepal in 2020. Although we haven’t talked since, she has been on my mind. Indeed, I have her name and number, handwritten on a flowery sticky note next to my keyboard. Relationships that mean something create action, not just good feelings. I had lost that in my busyness.
Lastly, I committed to getting back to dating my wife. We are going to do whatever she wants tonight, which probably means working in the garden. We love doing that. We haven’t done it in a few weeks. I love walking around with her, dreaming of future projects together.
Carelessness takes many forms. More than likely, you, too are careless. Get out of the sloth bucket with your fitness and don’t settle for the same workouts. Don’t settle for neglected relationships. Get out there, and don’t get busy. Make an impact, instead.