The time is always right to do what is right. – MLK, Jr.
I’ve been reading a “how to” book called Sacred Rest. One would think it would be a short book. “Put this book down and close your eyes.” End of story. It’s not that short—there are a bunch of chapters and loads of insights to work through.
The author, Saundra Dalton-Smith, is a medical doctor, but more importantly, she is a Type A working machine by nature, as are most doctors, I would assume. After doing a bit of diagnosing on what kind of rest we’re most in need of—physical, emotional, creative, etc.—and prescribing treatment for each type of rest depletion—a calming walk by a lake for sensory overload, for example—she proceeds to wade through some of the common obstacles we face when trying to get adequate rest.
The issue for most of us has to do with our habits. Habits of routine are things we do without being aware of making the choices we’re making. Habits of thought are inward reactions we make without trying. Changing almost any habit is truly challenging.
This goes for all kinds of areas we want to improve: spending less time on our screens, eating better, lashing out in anger less often, etc. Dr. Saundra links all these things to having adequate rest, by the way. Lifestyle choices are both affected by and affect our level of restedness.
My personality is rather Type A, but as I barely passed high school chemistry, I never considered becoming a doctor. Also I get queasy when people describe the medical procedures they’ve endured. Aside from those things, I think I’m plenty Type A to be a doctor.
I’m always thinking about how to improve my life, and in my better moments, I’m also thinking about how to improve others’ lives. Someone once told me bluntly and without compassion that perfectionism is not of God. That’s obviously absurd because God himself is perfect.
What she meant was that my drive to always improve sometimes need to rest in the grace God extends to the imperfect. Okay, fine, but there is something God-ordered in me that wants things to be right.
Yet I often do the wrong thing out of habit.
One paragraph in Dr. Saundra’s book struck me as very to the point. She asks questions which only the best of friends has the care, time, and guts to ask:
- What excuses do you make for not living the way you know you should?
- Why are you making these excuses?
- What are these excuses preventing you from experiencing?
- How are these excuses limiting your ability to get what you want?
- Why are you settling for a life of excuses?
Thinking through the answers to these questions cleared out some of the clutter in my mind. Many of my excuses have to do with procrastination: Next time, I’ll get it right. This time, I’m off the hook.
But Dr. King, who seemed to do the right thing to the very end, makes it simple. What I do next time is irrelevant. It’s what I do this time that matters. It’s always the right time to do the right thing.
“Be very careful, then, how you live, not as unwise, but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.” – Ephesians 5:15-16