Look Up!

Sunrise on Hilton Head Island

What has your work pace been like lately? Are you head down, focused, hustling to complete the next project on your plate? This is your official reminder: Remember to look up.

I’ve been in major “head down” mode all summer. I took a grad school class, traveled more than I thought was possible (some work, some fun), went to The Atlanta Market with New Hope Girls, and am working on a big personal project (more to come soon!). This all co-existed with the day-to-day responsibilities within our household and as a friend. This is not me bragging – I’m actually a bit embarrassed I allowed my summer to become overly saturated. I strongly prefer more breathing room in my schedule. However, demands unexpectedly converged in a way that created the perfect storm of busyness.

Busy is not Better

I don’t think being busy is a badge of honor or something to celebrate. Busyness can cause us to lose the ability to dream and think beyond the here and now.

Busyness often requires that we maintain a sprinter’s pace when the race is actually meant to be a marathon.

This is what has been going on with me. My head has been down and I’ve been focused. I know that all these demands required me to perform well and to execute with precision. In the over-saturation of my schedule I started to lose my ability to dream. As that dreamless reality set in, I also developed a serious case of writer’s block. The busyness was a compounding problem.

Writing for me is a life giving pursuit. It energizes me and keeps my mind sharp. When I am able to write I feel like I make more sense. And yet, in the month of July I didn’t write a single blog post for Boldly Pursue. I found my well of ideas dry and my mind fuzzy. I realized I had no creativity capital left after meeting the demands that were coming at me in all directions. In some ways, it was good news that I still had the energy needed for the firm tasks on my schedule. But I value the time and space to create, just to create.

It has been hard to know the exact root cause of the writer’s block, other than I caught the disease of “too busy,” which can be detrimental to living our optimal life. I’ve talked it over with my mom, I’ve processed with my friends, I’ve also washed it in prayer. Try as I may, I’ve sat here – stuck.

Coffee to the Rescue!

That is, until earlier this week. Until I sat down over coffee with one of my friends and she asked an innocuous but reorienting question. I don’t recall the exact quote but the essence was: 

Have you ever thought about how good it will feel to look back and realize your chain reaction impact?

I could tell that for her, the question felt very obvious. She was talking about the way I’m supporting the Social Enterprise component of the New Hope Girls, with a goal of creating additional jobs for women in the Dominican Republic.

For me, it was a beautiful moment of realization that caused the fog to lift. Her question forced me to look up and see the bigger picture of all the seeds I have sown and am sowing today. I instantly was prompted to imagine the fruit my efforts will yield in the future – for New Hope Girls and beyond.

I realized her question is applicable to all the many things that occupy my time; my family, my special project, my day job, my marriage. All of these things I’m investing in are continuing to grow and unfold before my very eyes – if I’m willing to look up and notice it. 

I really needed that conversation and conviction. I’ve been living in day-to-day survival mode all summer and that pace caused me to develop a tunnel vision around my impact. Her question helped me shake loose the “here and now” mentality that was stifling my ability to dream and create. I’m so thankful for how her question jostled my mind free and invited me back into a place of visionary living.

Are you looking up these days?

What about you? At this moment do you need to pause and imagine how what you are investing in today will yield fruit in the months and years to come? It could be an organization you are growing and nurturing or it could be the family you are loving and leading. I caution you to not let the “busy” distract you from your mission. Don’t work in a “head down” kind of way any longer, look up and dream – look up and imagine. Consider all that will be possible because of the work you are doing today.

Don’t forget to keep long term perspective in mind as you execute against a vision that is too big to be contained in just one day.

As another practical take away: I urge you to simplify your schedule and leave space to dream. I can fully appreciate that there are seasons it will simply not be possible – that is exactly what happened to me over the summer. But as much as you can control, leave space for dreams to thrive.

God is so gracious in the way He opens our eyes. I’m thankful that Amy asked a question that spoke to me in such a powerful way. I hope your eyes will be opened today too. I hope that any fog you are facing will lift and you will see life with fresh clarity. My sincere hope is that today, you’ll look up.

What do you think? (leave a comment!)