Friday, March 20, 2009

Seven Deadly Sins: Sloth

Well it's Friday and for the Lenten Season Kay over at Perhaps we Learn is hosting a meme on the 7 deadly sins. This week our topic is sloth. I missed week #2 (Wrath) a couple of weeks ago and because it seems timely, I had thought about writing about anger too. But this is already long so maybe I'll try to do wrath tomorrow or Sunday instead.

It's funny that this week is about sloth because right now my body and I are at war with daylight savings time. I seem to be making a slower than usual recovery from the shift. Well, I'm really not recovering. I've backslid about 30 minutes on my going to bed at a more normal hour rule and I'm getting up a half hour later. And this makes me feel very cranky and tired. I need to get over it, but for some reason even when I get to bed at the "right" time, I don't want to get up in the morning and my mornings are starting late and it's just very irritating and makes me feel bad about myself, makes me feel - you guessed it - LAZY! Lucky for me I don't have to go to work, although if I did, I'd probably have gotten over this by now. I think daylight savings time is just silly.

But back to the topic at hand. Sloth. All this not getting up on time makes me feel an extra level of slothfulness. I already battle with the inner voices that tell me I'm lazy. It's another area in which I can't entirely tell truth from internalized fiction. There's a lot that needs to be done around my house that isn't getting done. I like to think this is because I'm not physically capable of it, but the voices in my head tend to think otherwise. Truth probably lies in the middle. I could do more. But I get discouraged because it's so difficult. (Laziness, the voices mutter.) In the end, I guess I come to the same opinion about laziness as I do with all the "sins." I think the greatest harm of the whole sin thing is that it is a systematic way of making us feel bad about ourselves. Hard work (the opposite of laziness we are taught) is a virtue. And sometimes it is. But is it always? Is running on a relentless treadmill of "doing something" really good for us or for society? I think it depends on what that effort is directed towards. And even directed towards the most noble cause, if work consumes every thought and moment, I'm not sure it's a virtue. Life needs warmth and joy and our bodies and our spirits need rest and tenderness and compassion. So many of us have internal voices that try and lash us into so-called virtue by beating us up about how wicked we are. I don't think that ever works really. I don't know the statistics, but I'm guessing that most slave laborers die/died young. Brutality - whether physical or emotional - is not a good motivator. The voices in my head - in the heads of too many of us - are often brutal indeed.

It's always interesting to me when I write things and have a revelation in the process. All the talk about slave labor and motivation made me think about perfectionism. I've probably shared this before, but one of the funniest therapy sessions I ever had was when Dr. Jim told me I was a perfectionist. "That's absurd," I responded. "I never do anything right." He just laughed at me and it slowly dawned on me that perhaps I was a perfectionist. (Perfections who read that and don't get the joke... read it again and think about it.) Doing your best is a virtue. Striving to mete some mythical and idealized vision of perfection (and of course in true perfectionism the bar continues to move so that you can never reach it) is just self destructive. No matter how beautiful your work of art you will find reason to fault it, no matter how clean your house is, you will see only the tiny spot of dust you missed or the slip cover you don't like or... And no matter how hard you work you will deem yourself lazy or inept because you didn't do more.

That said, I get as irritated as the next person at people who are disrespectful of other's time and feelings: the clerk in a store who is doing nothing and leaves you standing for 15 minutes or simply ignores you into submission. But the kinds of laziness that I'd qualify as "sinful" (if I believed in sin) are things like a doctor who thinks listening to his/her patients is too much of an ordeal to be born. Or someone who is too busy with his/her own life to spend a half hour listening to a friend in need. Or a dog "owner" who substitutes a chain in the back yard for attention and exercise for their four-legged companions. That kind of emotional laziness bothers me more than anything.

Still, I think we need to put the whole concept of sin into a box and put that box onto a high shelf where it can collect dust and be forgotten. I personally believe that God is LOVE. Love does not judge, particularly petty things like your weight or what time you get up in the morning or how clean you keep your house. God/LOVE has better things to do. All we can do in this life is our best and be kind to ourselves and each other.

Wicked woman that I am, I say "be lazy sometimes." Not always. But a healthy life is about balance. Work hard and rest easy. Not sure I've made a lot of sense here, but I'm not going to read it over because then I might have to rewrite it and I'm way to lazy to do that.

Deadly sins posts:



Kaylia Metcalfe said...

/hear hear

I think you hit it perfectly with "emotional laziness"

Thanks for playing!

sammypancakes said...

it'S funny to hear that the time change has affected you so much. My mother who has never had a hard time getting up in the morning has stated that this time change has totally thrown her for a loop and shes finding it difficult to get up in the mornings....ok jut thought i'd share that with you ...ok !! have a good day!!

Anonymous said...

I definitely think these's a way to be "creatively lazy". And I recall something I heard on Oprah ages ago, it went something like, "Nobody on their deathbed ever said 'Gee I wish I'd spent more time at the office'" I dont' know if that's quite the same thing as laziness, but I'm sure it's related. Great psots, as always!

Anonymous said...

Emotional laziness bothers me the most and I believe it is rampant in this day and age. I so agree with you. But does Love not judge? If it didn't it just seems to me there would be no war, no hate, no cruetly, no bigotry, etc. I dunno, maybe I just expect to much. I'm so glad I live in an area where we keep the clocks on the same time 365/366 a year. It's so much easier.

Winterswan said...

I've been completely off since the time change; I'm not sure why one silly hour could make such a difference, but my body seems to be in a different zone even two weeks later! Sigh. Sloth, hmmm. I can relate to this, mainly because I'm so bad with regard to scheduling my time. I think I tend to waste precious time that I could be using more wisely. I'm hoping that will change, that I can work on that better with the coming of spring and rebirth being everywhere! Great blog! Thanks!

Dr.John said...

Lutherans never did like the concept of seven deadly sins. We always saw sin as that which separates us from God. That which makes us feel unworthy of God's love.
The law was given by God was only supposed to be the school master that drives us into the arms of God where His grace enfolds us.
So if you stand with the arms of the loving God around you you are right to ignore the whole sin thing.

diane said...

I am right there with you, it's so nice to these sentiments so well put. xo

Anon said...

it made perfect sense to me <3

I never re-read my writings, unless its years later, just for the fun of it.. otherwise I'd never post a single thing because words never seem "right" when I think about them too much.

I like your blog by the way, found you through the blogs of note feature.


cat-hamster said...

hello raven

i think u have found the right attitude in accepting so called "laziness" - it is so much better to live in harmony with inner cycles and the body and soul's need for rest, for preparing itself for more active times. I have struggled to accept my own fallow times and am learning not to break myself down with self-criticism. recently i started a blog (cat-hamster's eclectic reviews; and i find writing very therapeutic. your blog is great and I really admire your honesty and openness. thankyou, cat-hamster xxxxx

Heloise said...

I struggle constantly with this objective reality issue. Am I lazy or am I just doing the best I can today?

I do think has some useful things to say about keeping a house. It's a bit over the top, but it's helpful too.

good luck :)

Amber Star said...

Oh Raven...I so got the "Perfectionist" post.

I'm with Dr. John about the sin thing. For some reason I think God still loves me even if I get up at 8 or 9AM...and even if my carpet hasn't been swept this week.
I hate dst, too and will until sometime in the middle of the summer at which point I'll start to get on the "right" time and then will hate it again in the fall when we go back to real time.

Carletta said...

Be lazy sometimes - I love it!
Many good points as always Raven.

That sloth pic is just a little eerie to me. Looks like a sloth with a little kids face. :)

Patricia @ 9th and Denver said...

I agree with Dr. John, that the law was given to be a school master to drive us to Him.

Because God is Love- HE DOES JUDGE US. He has that right; because He is God. He gave his son for our sins, whether we believe in sin or not. ...And like Dr. John, I agree it is to make us feel unworthy of His love. That is why He gives us GRACE, because we are undeserving of anything. He is Sovereign and we have a great need. Our sin whether it is slothfulness, gluttony, adultery, hatred for others,...fill in the blank... should not be ignored;it is what God uses to show us our great need for him.
That perfectionism you mentioned... I have that too. It's true, nothing is right/good enough in our eyes. But because of Grace-- God declares us righteous and that is good enough for Him!

I loved your blog, found it through 'blogs of note' --- I've found it intriguing and quite interesting. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

I loved what you said about not being judgemental and being kind to one another. We become too caught up in our 'busy' lives that we tend to forget the little coutesies we can give others: smiling, greeting people on the lift and/or holding the door open for the woman with a baby on a stroller. Small gestures indeed but it can make someone's day.

I've included you in my blogs of note, too.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if I'm lazy or not, I find it difficult to ascertain that. Sometimes I'd like to have a nap at odd times or just relax spending hours listening to some great music. Does this amount to sloth?