I’m a generally content person. Considering my debilitating disease, that’s a very good thing. Except when it isn’t.
When I was 11 years old, I stopped physically attending school because it had become too exhausting for me. My public school sent a teacher to my house in the late afternoon, probably about three times a week. That meant that, during the day, my trusting mother left me to my own devices. I did what most kids my age would’ve done: I watched a lot of TV. I was definitely lazy during this period of my life. Not needing six hours of studying to get my work done, I usually waited until the last minute, sometimes waiting too late to accomplish my assignments. Thankfully, over the years, I learned self-discipline and how to manage my time better.
After I graduated from high school, I decided that I did not want to spend what I thought would be the last couple of years of my life studying for exams and meeting deadlines. Even though I graduated at the top of my class, I did not pursue further education. I took up a creative writing correspondence course (yes, with old-fashioned snail mail, it was the early 1990s) but procrastinated so badly that I never passed in my first assignment. Laziness had taken over again. I became rather addicted to soap operas, but did gradually realize that this was not the best use of my time and broke myself of the habit. I wrote poetry and personal journal entries and I tried my hand at fiction writing, though I don’t remember ever editing anything. I wasn’t that serious. I was content and happily spent most of my time doing what I enjoyed the most: daydreaming.
Dreaming My Life Away?
As I hinted at in my reflection about Envy, these daydreams of mine were wishful fantasies, rooted in my desire to live a life that was different than my own. Lying down or sitting up, even in the middle of being cared for, I would make up stories in my head, better than reading a novel or watching a movie, with characters, backdrops, and plot lines of my own creation. Nothing was researched or sometimes even logical enough to be written down, but that didn’t matter to me. I was content to simply amuse myself.
This ability to entertain myself has been a great blessing to me throughout my life — but also something of a curse. Though I credit my imagination with training me for abstract thinking and artistic writing, I also blame it for my phobia (read about that HERE) and other kinds of self-destruction. Although imagining other lives sometimes helped me to process socioeconomic challenges, theological matters, and relationship dynamics, they hindered me in living my life with my particular challenges and relationships. How many hours, days, months, years of my life have I wasted in daydreams?
I spent so much time imagining other lives that I neglected my own.
As I said, my vivid imagination has been a great gift to me, and I am now learning to make up stories in my head in useful and productive ways that help me reason things out or grow in empathy. Creativity is still the best way for me to process and understand. What I need to remember, however, is to avoid certain kinds of fantasies and give my clean, pure, thoughtful imaginings their proper time and place. I no longer want them to lead me into self-indulgent laziness. With God’s help, over the last several years I have improved. God is good!
There are other kinds of slothful behavior that I need to guard against, however.
Procrastination and Complacency
I put off writing a book for nearly 25 years. It’s not that I didn’t work on it, it’s just that I always found other ways of approaching the project or even other projects altogether. This needed to be finished, that needed to be edited, but not yet… tomorrow. Perfectionism combined with procrastination leads to paralysis of productivity. I am currently grappling with many desires to put off the writing of my second book. And it does feel very slothful.
Then there’s the matter of what I will do with this Lenten period of self-examination once it’s over. I have seen how sin and sinful tendencies have led me astray in the past and how my present tendencies threaten me now, and I’ve prayed for guidance and strength to overcome sin in my life. Will I be courageous, determined, and vigilant, persevering in my desire to become holy as my Lord is holy? Or will I let the tendency of sloth — fatigue, boredom, self-indulgent justifications — get the better of me?
St. James wrote, “So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.”[i] That’s pretty clear and hits pretty hard.
May I not become complacent with things that I know are wrong. I pray this, not only in my efforts to avoid the mere occasion of sin in my daily personal life, but also in my efforts to shine forth the love of Christ into the world. God is merciful — thanks be to God — and He knows what is truly in my heart. But my actions must reflect what is truly in my heart or else I am a hypocrite. What good has this seven-week self reflection been if I don’t get off of my lazy butt (so to speak) and do something to improve? So, stop being so prissy, Christina. Give to others without expecting reward. Get rid of excessive stuff. Take joy in the success of others. And patiently trust God while being merciful with the errant.
With God’s help, I pray that I may become less and less self-centered and more and more God-centered. When I fall — for I will fall — I pray that I will not be content to stay upon the ground, but will ask for God’s mercy and the power of His love to raise me up so that I may soldier onward in, with, and through Christ.
Overcoming sin in our own lives is something that we can all work on together, for, as a popular saying goes, all that evil needs to prevail is for good people to do nothing.
Let’s not do nothing.
Lord, may I appreciate the fertile soil and seeds that You have given me and be diligent in working to bear good fruit for the Kingdom, now and forever, by the power of Your Holy Spirit within me. Amen.
© 2021 Christina Chase
[i] James 4:17.
Although crippled by disease, I'm fully alive in love. I write about the terrible beauty and sacred wonder of life, while living with physical disability and severe dependency. A revert to the Catholic faith through atheism, I'm not afraid to ask life's big questions. I explore what it means to be fully human through my weekly blog and have written a book: It's Good to Be Here, published by Sophia Institute Press.