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Reflection: The Tyranny of “And”

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Reflection 52: The Tyranny of And

This morning, as is now my daily practice, after getting off the prayer call, I got on the Peloton, and rode for 45 minutes.

And something about it was odd.

I realized that while I had gotten in a good workout, and I was tired, I wasn’t drained. And I didn’t have to push.

And then I realized that I did something unusual today.

I finished a workout. And stopped.

Normally, when the ride is done, I go and lift weights. I want to be lean, but I want to be strong. So five days a week, I combine the workouts. But after the ride, I'm beat. So I have to force myself to finish. Every single time.

And that is a fitness plan.

And a 21st Century disease.

I constantly look at things to see where I can add more things.

Do I have time for an extra workout? Another phone call? Can I read something in my downtime and then use it in my uptime? Can I take this message I posted, and reconfigure it for social media?

Early in my preaching career, one of my mentors noted my tendency to pack two messages into one. I had a sermon that could stand perfectly well on its own, and midway through, I would essentially exclaim “And another thing!” and launch into a tangentially related message that could stand perfectly well on its own.

This is a young speaker’s mistake: let me show you everything I know.

It’s also a guest speaker’s anxious flub: let me stuff everything in here because I don’t know when I’m coming back.

And it’s an ADHD flex, because you can always find a secondary topic you can connect in a novel way. Nobody ever saw that link before? Now they do.

Here’s the problem. You can ruin a good thing by cramming it next to another good thing.

You can smush your sandwich by packing a second one in the box.

You can ruin your flowers by putting too many in the bouquet.

For me it’s the tyranny of “and.”

I’m doing cardio AND weights, because both are important.

I ‘m gonna eat surf AND turf, because it’s one item on the menu.

I’m here to speak AND sing, because everyone needs to know I can do both.

Too often, however, if I do both, just because I can, I will do neither well.

I finish my workout, but I’m exhausted. And if I’m not careful, this is where I get hurt.

I finish the meal, but I’m stuffed. And If I’m not mindful, this is where I get fat.

I finish the talk and song, but I went long. Sure I spoke, and I sang. But I was distracted. And I always want to leave people wanting more, instead of having them wanting me to stop.

The Bible emphasizes moderation. Self-control. Balanced living.

When we talk about stewardship, we talk about our time, talent, and treasure, not to mention our relationships, ideas, inspiration, and more.

What good thing might I be ruining because I am hastily cramming something else with it?

What work is substandard because I am multitasking?

What relationships am I neglecting because I am distracted?

What revelation am I missing because I am constantly doing two things at once?

I have realized, while on vacations, that I have to practice being in the moment.

Otherwise, my mind will anxiously wander to the next event, worrying about logistics I can’t control, and don’t yet need to.

I can quickly become the only miserable person in paradise, wondering about the tomorrow’s weather instead of just enjoying the sun.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:34 “do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

Just today.

Just the bike.

Just the steak.

Just the topic.

Just the talk.

Today I’m skipping the “and.”

And I’m feeling the better for it.

(Photo Credit: Liza Summer)

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