Battling Nothing

“And Nothing is very strong:  strong enough to steal away a man’s best years not in sweet sins but in dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too week and fuddled to shake off.”  (CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters, Chapter 12)


Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are honest, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

I wrote a blog post over at TBL that really seems to have hit a few hearts square on target, so I thought I’d elaborate a bit over here.

The Enemy’s name *means* accuser, and he likes nothing better than to call you out on all the things you “should” be doing and battling you vigorously when you try to turn your face to the innocent things that you truly enjoy.  When you’re about to take a long walk, our enemy cheerfully reminds you about the pile of laundry.  When you’re writing an ailing relative, he’ll make you feel guilty about the weeds in the front lawn.  When you’re tired and it’s time to rest, he’ll keep you fiddling around with not-much.  To everything there is a season…

I’m quite sure that none of you sit at the computer fiddling around, click-click-clicking, looking for the place that *you* clearly need to put in a word, checking to see what the weather will be doing next week (five times since this morning), making sure all the places you “go” online are in good order.  No?  Just me?  And no one else feels (in the back of their heads) that they’re “working” if they’re sitting at their computer, attentive for that chime of the email… even if all they’re doing is click-click-clicking.  Surely.  “in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them” only rings a bell with *me*.

No?  Apparently I am wrong, and this is common.

I’m no Luddite.  I use my computer heavily, and it’s my only during-the-day communication with my husband (who works outside our area-code and anyway is hardly at his desk).  But enjoying technology and using it can swiftly and silently turn into being used *by* it.   Clicking around can eat up hours of my day if I let it… for what?

If I’m tired (and sometimes the physical nature of housework makes me tired), then take a nap!  If I’m lonely, call a friend.  If I need a break from the kids – well, I can take one, they’re old enough.  It’s better for me to take an honest moment to myself to solidly recharge than half-way hold it, never getting satisfaction.  But so easy.  So easy.

An object at rest tends to stay at rest, and an object in motion tends to stay in motion.  When I’m inside, it seems so much *work* to go outside.  When I’m outside, I realize how much fun I’m having and I just stay there.  I worked hard in my sewing cave all weekend, consciously choosing not to check my computer every five minutes – and I felt all the better for it.

I’ve decided to call my click-clicking (and my snack-snacking) the fidgets.  The happier I am, the more I’m doing proper Hearthyish things, the less I fidget.  I work, I rest, I play.  I don’t fidget.  But get me nervous and out of sorts – like the two days this week when my husband worked extremely late – and watch me click so fast my mouse finger gets sore!

You have to make a choice to fight the fidgets, to be your best self doing your proper things.  You have to push back against the guilt that throws a list of to-dos at you when it’s properly time to rest or play – or when you’re neck-deep in doing something else.  The BEST way to do that is to pray, and the next step is to consciously start doing something you love.  Something that motivates you – I’ve decided boredom isn’t about not having anything to do (all housewives have a should-do list to the moon) but not having a list of things that you care about or are motivated to get done.  Similarly, when I’ve spent all morning working on something I love, I can power through my chores.  Tasks expand to fit the time you have to deal with them – or a bit over, if you really don’t want to do them at all.

Ignore the accusations, fight the fidgets, and defy the Nothingness.  You and I, we’re meant to LIVE.

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