Saturday, January 27, 2007

Procrastination and Me

The beauty (and horror) of procrastination lies in the fact that an onerous task or project, if delayed long enough, will no longer be possible to complete, at least with any reasonable hope of success. With rationalization and excuses as my close companions, I continually deferred the work necessary to prepare for graduate school to some later time. While I achieved an A+ in my first course in introductory Greek, I give myself a D for my lacklustre efforts in planning school for next year. As a student, I generally succeeded in the battle against procrastination, at least in the realm of academics. But as I consider my poor performance in this area, I am gaining new insight into myself.
Why is it that I have always had an easier time accepting Jesus' words "Without me you can do nothing", than appropriating Paul's assertion "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"? Why is it I can be relatively content in repetitive, mind-numbing work, and fear any venture into the unknown? Can it be I really did not want to succeed in my efforts at planning and applications, and really I wanted to try and ultimately fail, proving to myself that this endeavour was not for me? Because I am afraid, afraid of the unknown, afraid of failure, afraid that I don't have what it takes. I am afraid of being far from home, afraid of illness, of debt, and ultimate futility. I am afraid that I can't even succeed at what God is calling me to in my life, whatever that may be.
At one point in my life, I began to narrow the area where I demanded competency and excellence from myself. Many things I haven't even attempted to do. My mother was frustrated at my attempts to prove that I could not sew a button onto my pants. But I see this as a picture of the many skills I have decided I can't master. My area where I demanded mastery, competence, and excellence was the realm of academic achievement, but other endeavours, for example, in the realm of friendships and social life, I accepted, even expected, failure. In all honesty, I can understand the servant in the parable who buried his talent in the ground.
I need to find out what God is calling me to do with the gifts and interests he has given to me, my area of service and my specific vocation (which may or may not be connected to a specific career). I need to realize that I can do whatever God has called me to, the "all things" Paul speaks of, and I can succeed at many other life skills as well. I need to replace my fears with faith and confidence in Christ who strengthens me, and I need to work hard at any true vision God gives me for my life. I need to realize the true failure is not trying, is burying the gold talent deep in the ground, of living a life of safe and shallow selfishness. And with all this emphasis on doing, maybe I need to balance that with a realization of being, my identity in Christ as a child of God, who I am created and redeemed to be.


C and/or K said...

Way to go Suzanne with being honest with yourself. I think everyone can glean some wisdom from your entry - there is a bit of the procrastinator and Nervous Nellie in all of us. If we don't think we can do it well, we don't want to try. And of course God will help us when we're doing what he calls us to do!
Thanks for the thoughts,

Suzanne den Boer said...

Yeah I guess it is a very common human failing. What's worse is when you are pretty good at something, just not as good as someone else you know, so you no longer want to try. Thanks for the comment and you're welcome. I don't have internet at the apartment right now. It sure is tough.

June-Star said...

I have a hard time enjoying things I'm not very "good" at right away. If I can't do it right away then often I don't want to do it at all. But I think all things need some time and investement; it seems that somethings are just harder to put effort into than others.

Suzanne den Boer said...

I think you're right Jen; some things just are harder to put the necessary effort into. For me they include learning how to sew, car maintenance, and grad school applications. Maybe not everyone can be a Renaissance woman (or man), but there are many areas where the application of effort is necessary to being a well-rounded, competent, responsible adult who will move forward in life. I must be a little behind.

Rod and Bec said...

Amen! Once again you put into words so well what I feel so often. Thank you!
PS - I really enjoyed seeing you at the family gathering!

Suzanne den Boer said...

You're welcome Becky and I enjoyed talking with you too. Today I learned a lot about proper perspective to the difficulties of life from you and what you wrote about your accident. I've not been living up to what I profess, but have been taking a familiar trip leading to nowhere. Blessings really are all around me, but I've been blind to them. All I could see were obstacles and problems. Thanks for your example.