Self-salvation is contrary to the gospel. But it's a strong arm I unconsciously wrestle with regularly. "Paul has already said that the preaching of the gospel is terribly offensive to the human heart. People find it insulting to be told that they are too weak and sinful to do anything to contribute to their salvation." I just finished a study through Galatians. And Tim Keller's words here hit me hard. I think this might be the essence of my personal difficulty with this stage of life. Productivity is something I ardently desire in life. I have to remind my accomplishment-driven self that my good works do not bring my salvation, and often more importantly for me, are not something I can boast in if I take the gospel seriously.
But I like to boast in my good works. I like to boast in my accomplishments. I like to boast in my productivity. Even if the audience I'm boasting to is merely myself.
When I am frustrated with someone else and they are frustrated with me, my immediate thought is, "Well I did this and that and this and that. At least I've done those things." For example, when my husband and I are in the midst of a tiff usually it's based out of the fact that he shows love and receives love differently than I do. When I feel unloved, I automatically assume I've given lots of love because of all the things I've done around the house and with the kids. So when the fighting flag is raised, my ammo is to lean on productivity. I've done the dishes, I've done the laundry, I've cooked supper, I've wiped up poopy butts, I've given baths, I've brushed teeth. What have you done? What things have you productively done for me?
And even in parenting it's a lack of measurable productivity that gets under my skin the most. I can't quantify the outcomes of this "task" of life. [Yes, I know parenting should not be a viewed as a task but rather a role, but I'm being honest here. I all too often have the wrong perspective.] I desire to be productive in my parenting. How many books did I read Cade today? How much time did he spend outside? Did he brush his teeth? Eat healthy food? Express himself athletically, artistically, intellectually?
When I can check these things off well in a day's time, I can pat myself on the back for a job well done. His success is because of me. But on the days I cannot check these things off. On the days Juniper is crying every time I put her down which means Cade is watching way more TV than I want him to ... . On the days that I'm running a million errands so no books get read ... . On the days I've started too many house projects and finished none because of messes and demands and not enough alone time ... . Then what? That's when my productivity meter is starving and I get really down. But this is the point of the gospel: It's not about what you do, it's all about who you are. The gospel says you can't build a bridge to paradise, but if you accept your identity in Christ, you get to walk the bridge he's already built. In parenting, it's not so much about what I do, but about who I am. I can spend a day reading Cade 20 books and still be a bad mom if I have a horrible attitude. And Cade can spend a day watching four hours of TV and I can still be a good mom because I have a great attitude about a crying baby that won't let me accomplish much. The gospel says productivity is not at the core of who we are. Which means, I shouldn't lust after it, I shouldn't lean on it for my identity, I shouldn't let it be my idol. It is simply a tool in the hands of a human being. It's often so much more about the how than the what.