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You Don't Have to Be Productive

I have no idea what to write

…no idea

…….no idea.

When I first begin writing, I have a practice where I immediately write the first sentence that comes to mind. I don’t know why I do it. Maybe it’s something I adopted from therapy, freewriting as a means to get your most authentic feelings out in front of you. I do this with every midweek message, and every sermon. It varies, depending on how I’m feeling. Here are some previous examples:

“Let’s go girls.”


“Dear God, I don’t know how to do this.”

“Dear God, I don’t want to do this.”

Sometimes I’m just busy. I get so caught up in everything else that needs to get done, that I have trouble finding the space to write or think creatively. Like Pastor Dan mentioned in his midweek message last week, sometimes it can be difficult to have the time, or energy, to play. But as he wrote, “if we’re going to engage in the hard, necessary labor of love that God calls us to carry out, we can’t lose touch with our playful personhood made in God’s image.”

But yesterday was one of those days when I couldn’t think of anything to write. So I opened my doc and wrote my first thought. While this is my traditional practice, I always end up deleting the sentence once I do figure out what to write. But maybe I should pay more attention to those words. Perhaps they shouldn’t be omitted from my writing. Afterall, they are my writing.

As the day came to an end, I still couldn’t figure out what to write. I came home from the church after taking care of a few things because I thought being home would offer more inspiration for writing. My inspiration turned out to be a nap with my dog. I don’t regret it. But I did still feel a tinge of anxiety that I hadn’t thought of anything to write. I think I put too much pressure on myself sometimes to provide some sort of grand pastoral guidance.

I left my house, with only the beginning sentence written, to meet with my pastoral support team at the church. When I arrived, I tried to take a deep breath to center myself while one of the lovely human beings on my support team read something by Sarah Bessey to open. I heard the first sentence, and thought of nothing else:

You don’t have to be productive, and you don’t have to change the world.

I asked for it to be repeated twice, and I thought about this piece of writing that I had convinced myself hadn’t been started. But it contained, just like every other piece of writing, my most present and authentic thought. I didn’t know what to write, and I didn’t have to change the world. After Jenn had read Bessey’s words, she showed me a card she kept in her wallet that a friend had made for her. It reads “officially DOING enough.” So I listened to that part of my authentic self, and surprisingly, I’ve written this without stopping to think about it. I just am in this moment.

It’s strange what we’ve made of productivity. But maybe we can reclaim it. I want to know your most present and authentic thoughts. I want to know how you are being, not how you are doing. Maybe that can be our means of production. Maybe that is our harvest.


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