Presence Over Productivity


Hello Beauties! So much for getting back to the video last week! At this point, I don’t even know what I was planning to say. It changes day to day. Some days I feel chatty and ready to spill my heart out…other days, I just feel quiet. Over the last seven weeks, I’ve felt mostly quiet. It’s been a slow season, a deep healing season, a tear-filled season, a lonely season…and as I suspected, it’s been about a whole lot more than the healing of a broken bone.

But through it all, I’ve known the presence of God more intimately than any other season I can recall. I may be quiet, but He’s not! I hardly know what to do with all that He’s speaking. Do I write it? Do I speak it? Or do I just treasure it in my heart? All of the above, I’m guessing…different things at different times.

But today, on this first day of September, I feel like there’s a whisper He wants me to share “out loud” with you. In a nutshell, it’s this: presence over productivity.

For many of us, back-to-school season represents a kick in the pants, whether you have kids or not. There’s a palpable shift in pace this time of year, especially for women. Some of us give ourselves grace until after Labor Day, but then it’s time to kick it into high gear…before you fall too far behind and fear you’ll never catch up.

Sound familiar? For some of us, we don’t even know we’re doing it. But all of a sudden, we feel this pressure to knock out to-do lists, ramp up the exercise routine, clean up the signs of summer around the house, organize the stacks and piles, sign up for everything under the sun, and run the kids all over town for every kind of sport and activity known to man. Without even slowing to ponder if all of this is needed, we jump in with the masses and run the race we think is required of us. For awhile, this fast pace of productivity and busyness feels good…and looks good, too. Until you realize you can’t run like that anymore.

But as soon as you jump off the treadmill to catch your breath, you notice that everyone else is still running. And here you are, not moving at all. You feel both taunted and paralyzed by productivity’s lure. Sometimes paralysis wins, and now all you can see is another day without much to show for it. It’s so easy to look at how productive everyone else appears to be during this fresh new season, and to shame ourselves for not getting things done.

I bet you can guess which camp I might fall into with a broken ankle. Yep, shame. I’d rather call it frustration because shame sounds so…you know, shameful. But let’s call it what it is. That’s our only hope for healing…to tell the truth about ourselves to God and others…and to let them tell the truth back to us.

The truth is, there are things I want to be doing…ways I want to be productive. For starters, I’d like to wash the slipcovers…especially the one I camped out on for five weeks straight. And I’d like to move my body so I can lose the pounds I gained while lying on the couch. {God, help me love myself if those pounds are here to stay.} I’d love to declutter all the signs of summer that are stacked and piled in every part of my house. Or even better, I’d love to say I used all this down time to do something incredible…like write a book!

The truth is, all of those desires are really fine and good. Productivity feels good. Sitting on the couch every day does not. But when we feel like we have to do something in order to feel good about ourselves or should do something in order to avoid feeling bad about ourselves, productivity can become a merciless slave driver. What began as a good desire can quickly become a demand. And when we’re not meeting that demand, shame can creep in faster than a fox can steal a chicken! {There’s the farmgirl talking!}

But then there’s God’s truth…the goodness He speaks back to us no matter which end of the productivity spectrum we find ourselves in today. I love your presence. I value your presence. I look forward to your presence. If all you do today is spend time with me, that’s more than enough. Your presence here with Me is the only thing that’s needed today.

How hard is that to believe? Presence is the only thing that’s needed? Really? But isn’t productivity what makes the world go round? Doesn’t someone have to get things done? Wouldn’t the family fall apart if a mama sat on a couch all day and did nothing?

And God tenderly whispers, “Not if that mama is spending the time in my presence.”

And just in case you think I’m making this stuff up, God’s whispers to our hearts are always consistent with what He’s spoken in His Word. Just look at the Mary and Martha story to see what I mean. {Luke 10} Martha’s busting her tail to get things done while Mary just sits at the feet of Jesus. She’s practicing presence while Martha practices distraction. Martha wants Jesus to put Mary in her place. Surely every woman needs to be bustling around getting things done! But God. He always thinks about things differently. And this is what He said: Only one thing is needed. And Mary is doing it.

That one thing is presence. As much as this world, our flesh and our enemy try to convince us, productivity is not the one thing needed. It’s a distraction from the one thing.

In the last seven weeks, I’ve learned that presence is a practice. It’s not something that comes naturally, even when you’re forced into a state of stillness by a broken bone, bedrest or sickness. It’s not something that introverts do better than extroverts. It’s not something homebodies do better than adventurous souls. Because the truth is, we’re all prone to distraction, even it it’s just mental distraction while sitting still. Case in point: over the last seven weeks, I scrolled Facebook more times than I’d like to admit. We can jump right out of presence and into distraction in an instant. Distraction comes naturally to us.

But God so lovingly invites us back into presence…day after day, moment after moment. He invites us to lay down the idol of productivity with all of its demands and invites us to enjoy the freedom of being in His presence.

Practicing presence is uncomfortable at first. You may feel restless, agitated, unproductive, and if you’re honest, worthless. It will feel like nothing is happening. Nothing you can measure or point to anyway. For people who like to make things happen, check completed tasks off a list, or relish in the fruit of their labor at the end of a day, practicing presence will feel downright undesirable.

So why practice presence at all? Because it’s the one thing that’s needed. The only thing that’s needed. And if the One who made us says that’s all that’s needed, surely it’s worth practicing. Surely goodness will flow from this one thing, even if we can’t see the immediate results.

So how on earth do we start practicing presence? Baby steps. Just like bravery. Start with just a minute or two. Just you and God and your breath. He’s closer than your breath, so even if you don’t hear or feel a thing, you can lean into the promise that He’s right there with you. Want to feel something? I’ve been known to hold my hand up close to my face just to feel my breath. If He’s closer than that, He’s real close!

Another way to practice presence is through beauty hunting. This is my favorite way. You don’t need a fancy camera or stellar photography skills. Just hunt with your eyes and seek to find the beauty in the very spot where you’re sitting. Beauty is all around us, even in the most unlikely places. Taking time to notice and give thanks for beauty creates a sense of presence over productivity like nothing else I know.

Practicing presence over productivity with you today,

Linsey signature 100pix



P.S. I learned that if you sit still and present long enough, butterflies will consider you a safe place to land. This one stayed for nearly 30 minutes!


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  • Julie - Love this Linsey! The Lord has just begun speaking this message to me as well… So your words were confirmation and also like sunshine to the seeds that God had planted in my heart. You have a gift of writing. Thank you so much for sharing what God has been speaking to you. I appreciate the practical examples of how to be present with Him! Beauty hunting, feeling your breath, etc. Sometimes it can be hard to think of ways to be still with Him when we’re not praying or worshipping. Take care friend! ~julieReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Don’t you love it when God gives confirmation and repeats Himself so gently just so that we get the message? He doesn’t give us just once chance. Such a patient Father! I love knowing my words were like sunshine to the seeds. What a beautiful image. Thank you, Lord!ReplyCancel

  • erin - Such a beautiful message. Thank you.ReplyCancel

  • Becky Mullowney - Awesome post, Linsey! After the craziness of buying another house and getting ours ready to go on the market…I am more than ready to just sit and be still and know that He is God!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - Wishing you some really sweet spots of stillness with Jesus in your new home. I can almost picture it! (Congrats by the way.)ReplyCancel

  • Eden - I have never forgotten what a priest said at the funeral of a dentist, who had lived 17 happy years after a devastating stroke took his “busyness” away: “Remember, we are born human BEINGS, not human DOINGS. Being is enough.”ReplyCancel

  • Dianne - You were talking to me today! Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Gracia @ Gracious Offering - Linsey, Beautiful post! As I was viewing all the photos on Facebook of the first day of school, feeling a little down because that season of life is long gone, your reminder that I can practice his presence (Brother Lawrence :))through every season of life was a needed one. Love your heart!ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I can only imagine the sadness I’ll feel when that season is gone. A different kind of sadness than the feeling I get now. Just knowing that Jesus wants to meet us in that place is so comforting to me. We don’t have to do sadness all on our own. Hope you’re beginning to feel some crisp fall air!ReplyCancel

  • Rene' - Thank you for sharing your words of wisdom and showing us the beauty in your photo of the Butterfly so we can see these special gifts.ReplyCancel

  • Lauren - Hearing the same words this season! But I have had a hard time acting on it because it takes courage to stop and be present when the world is telling us to go,go,go… Thanks for sharing your beautiful thoughts. Not feeling so guilty now for just being and enjoying the stillness.ReplyCancel

    • Bravehearted Beauty - I love it when I hear the same thing others are hearing. Just makes the message all the stronger. And yes, it IS hard to practice presence and stillness in this fast moving world. But worth the courage it takes. Hope you’re finding some sweet still moments!ReplyCancel

  • jennifer - Thank you, Linsey. This is a timely post. I’m heading into a rare 4 day weekend. I will shorten my to-do list. The one in my mind, and the one on my desk. Not even sure if I know how to do nothing and just be still. God bless you and yours.ReplyCancel