Productive Still

Gabby is headed home for the Summer, so we asked her to write a blog about something she learned this year, enjoy her wisdom, and keep her in your prayers until she returns to us this fall!

The best lesson I learned during the 2019-2020 school year was taught to me in the window-seat of a Southwest flight in November.

Coming back to Fort Worth from my home in Atlanta, my plan for the solo plane ride was simple: To work.

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that my work ethic is one of the most notable traits of my personality. My past four years at TCU has included nonstop jokes from friends about how I “live” at the TCU library, coercion by the same friends to stop studying for just an hour to come and hang out, and repeated phrases such as “Gabby, it’s okay if you don’t get a 95 on the test” or “Gabby, just take a break” or “Gabby, just get more than four hours of sleep tonight, please.” It’s safe to say that this notable trait has gotten me the GPA most parents would be proud of. However, it’s equally safe to say that this notable trait has taken its toll on my eating, sleeping, and self-esteem.

But nonetheless, my plan for this specific plane ride in November was to do what I always do: Work.

However, the plan failed because I found myself on this plane opening and closing and reopening different study apps on my phone, the many textbooks I had in my backpack, and my laptop with the multiple assignments I needed to complete on it. But nothing was sticking. I couldn’t focus, I couldn’t even get started. Nothing was satisfying the time I felt like I needed to occupy. And it was ANNOYING because I had things to do!

So beyond frustrated and with empty hands, I just sat there looking out the window. Thinking. For a long time.

In this moment with my thoughts, God led me to a realization and an idea: Maybe I was incredibly restless and dissatisfied because God just wanted me to be still. Maybe God didn’t want me to occupy my time by being productive in the way I thought productivity manifested. Maybe God wanted me to give the thought “If I’m not doing something productive, why am I doing it at all?” a break. Maybe God was working.

In that moment God was whispering, “Be still. Be here. With me.” My mind was yelling right back at God, “Okay, but I have to finish this book!” and “Okay, but I have to work on my speech for tomorrow!” and “Okay, but there is so much to do!” And God whispered again, “Right now, you are to be with me. So be.” And eventually, I listened. I looked out the window at the vastness of creation and I thought, God did that. I thought about the people in that flying tube with me and thought, God loves them. I felt my breath going in and out of my lungs and thought, God is the reason I am doing this.

Slowly, I started to think, maybe I don’t always need to be doing something “productive.” Maybe the best thing for me is just to sit and marvel at my Creator. Sit and listen to my Best Friend. Sit and lean into the Love of my Life. And all of a sudden, nothing sounded better. Nothing sounds better.

This school year was a whirlwind of very inconvenient incidences, both externally in the world and internally in my heart. Inconvenient incidences that made me stray from the productivity I find so much comfort in and made my naturally busy-bodied soul feel frustrated, angry, and disappointed. However, my God whispered in my soul and heart again and again the truth of real productivity. The truth of what’s really important to spend your time on: Stillness with God. This truth that my God, who is so good and patient with me, repeated to me over and over again, faithfully got me through the most unpredictable and disastrous school year of my life. And I am grateful.

So to all of my fellow busy-bodies out there: Be still.

It might be the most productive thing you do all day.

Gabby

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