This post was originally published on The Banner as part of the In My Shoes column. –Reprinted by permission of The Banner. Jasmine Duckworth, “Doing vs. Being,” © The Banner, June 2023 (158/6), p. 45. All rights reserved worldwide.

Last night I did what I do every night as the day winds down, I mentally went through my day and noted all the things I didn’t get done.  The list was long. The tasks should have been easy.  I felt like I had failed at life, and this was a familiar feeling because this is a familiar routine.  Chronic pain, disability-related muscle fatigue, work, family life, and an ongoing worldwide pandemic make it difficult to get things done.

Then I started thinking about neuroplasticity; the idea that our thoughts shape our brain.  I know that choosing different thought patterns can reshape my brain so I made the mental switch that I often do, and started listing the tasks I did accomplish. 

It felt better but wasn’t enough.  Either way I’m equating tasks done with success, which isn’t actually changing the pattern. 

I remembered listening to Chantal Huinink speaking at a conference years ago and one of her points has always stuck with me: Just like we can be prone to perfectionism, we can also be hung up on productivism

That was an “aha” moment for me.  Whenever perfectionism has come up as a topic in sermons or seminars I have always felt a bit smug because that’s not a struggle for me.  I’m comfortable with things being a bit rough around the edges.  I’m okay with things being a tad raw. 

But this concept of productivism that Chantal spoke about hit me hard.  I am absolutely a productivist.  I love lists and crossing things off.  I multitask always and my favourite pastime is knitting because it means even my leisure produces something.

This is what I need to rewire in my brain.  Being productive is satisfying but is it where I want to derive my self worth?  What is more important than productivity?

I remembered a line from one of the training courses at work: “We are human beings, not human doings.” 

What does it mean to be a human being? How do I want to be?

I knew the answer immediately. 

Love.  To be is to love. 

So I asked myself, was I loving today?

I mentally went over my interactions with people over the course of the day.  Was I loving with my family? My coworkers (through email and video chat)? My friends I saw when we picked up our children from school?

What a difference it made in my mental state as I closed out my day.  Rather than feel like a failure, I felt like I had succeeded – and succeeded in a more meaningful way than if I had done the dishes (nope) or folded the laundry (partially).

So this will be my new routine.  I will focus on being loving, rather than falling into the trap of productivism, and I will reshape my brain until, hopefully, my very being is oriented toward Love.

“…if I have a faith that can move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.”

1 Corinthians 13:2