It was weird.
Ordinarily, I don’t get to do this. Usually I’m either light on the afternoon free time because of church responsibilities, or if I have the time to watch a game I’m competing with Ella for control of the TV. (Strangely, five year-old girls don’t like football. Who knew?)
So today, with Rachel and Ella off to a baby shower and Jon tucked in for a nap, I settled onto the couch like a red-blooded American male and vegged out. And it was nice.
It was also disconcerting. It tells me something that when the repast was over (Rachel and Ella came home, plus the Falcons game ended) I felt slightly guilty for not having done more with my afternoon. I felt somehow I had missed an opportunity to write the great American novel (not that you can do that in an afternoon, but you get the point), or perhaps frittered away a few hours in which I could’ve learned a valuable skill, like mastering cold fusion or learning Mandarin Chinese.
Essentially, I did nothing and felt wrong for it.
Now what prompts that? Certainly there are better ways to spend a few hours, but is it necessarily wrong to, as a person who seems to always be running, just crash and do nothing? What makes it seem borderline sinful to just watch a game?
I think part of it comes from the notion that we are what we do. We’re defined by our actions, by the things we accomplish in life, and when we’re not accomplishing something we feel useless. We feel as if we’re not living up to our potential.
And it’s not just football games that make us feel this way. Sometimes you spend an hour having coffee with a friend, talking to them about something that’s ripping their life apart, and yet you still leave feeling like you just goofed around for an hour instead of doing something productive.
We’re not sharks – we don’t have to keep moving in order to live. In fact, we’ve been commanded to keep a Sabbath day – a day of rest – as part of an orderly and worshipful life. Rest is part of what makes us human.
Are there better ways to rest? Certainly. I could’ve read, or napped, or prayed. But the essence of what I did – stopping – was not only right, it was needed.
Hopefully, your Sunday afternoon was the same.