Do Something. Or Not.
I’ve seen the quote: Don’t just stand there. Do Something.
I’ve also seen the clever opposite: Don’t do something. Just stand there.
Both have merit, don’t they? Sometimes, I need to stop rolling things around in my head, or sitting and pondering, and just do something useful – helpful – positive. Up and at ’em.
Yet, there are many other times when just Doing Something can make for busy rote work, with no heart involved. My better choice would be to stand still. To listen. To feel. To learn.
I subscribe heartily to this advice by Albert Schweitzer:
Do something wonderful. People may imitate it.
Have you ever caught someone doing something awesome, and they didn’t know you were watching? I have. Lots of times. Here are a few lovely memories:
1. A family, with four or five children, were Heart Attacking a sweet widow neighbor. I saw them placing hearts and kind notes all over the front door. Saw them leave a platter of treats on the doorstep. Then run like crazy. One fell over the other, they squealed a bit – getting looks of consternation from the mom – and ran off, full of pure joy. This reminds me that I should find the phone number of this old friend so I can tell her what I saw. To this day, it brings a smile to my heart. And I learned from it.
2. My youngest son was with me at the store as we gathered a few Christmas decorations. While we stood in a long line to pay, we spotted a neighbor at another checkout. We saw her pay and leave the store. Shortly, she came whizzing back in and explained to the clerk that they had given her too much change. After handing the cashier the overpayment, she left.
But the impression never left me. At the time, it became a teaching moment between a mother and son. It remains an example of People Doing The Right Thing. Also, a reminder that – when we have no idea- people are watching. So, we’re being an example, for good or otherwise.
3. I currently have a neighbor who deals with harsh health challenges. Her life is a difficult one, pared way back from the busy and interpersonal work she used to do. But this lady is a ray of sunshine to me. All of my children (now grown) have, at some point, seen a card or a treat, flowers, or a sweet note that she has taken time and thought to bring me. During my own times of particular health distress, she has constantly buoyed me.
Many people have no idea how wonderful she is, for they don’t take time to know her. But I know her. And she is an example to me of quiet Godly service.
Now, as we flip the coin of phrase, here are a couple of thoughts on just sitting – or standing – instead of Getting Something Done.
1. I wrote a book a few years back that included this little poem. It came to me while I sat thinking about all the STUFF moms need to do – all the time- in order to stay on top of things. Oh, what am I talking about? Rarely are we on top of things. We just do the best we can. Sometimes the Doing is more like Standing Still and making memories. Much more important than marking off the To Do list:
I don’t care
How long laundry waits.
It will get done.
My daughter waits
to walk together
in the sun.
And because so quickly
the sunset comes…
I will wait
to get the laundry
2. I have a lovely friend who is soft spoken and calm. That is, like, SO not me most of the time. She moves slowly yet regally, and always has a thoughtful response to questions, and conversations are filled with well-thought-out points that she has carefully processed. She doesn’t do a lot in the way of GO AND DO. She does more sit and ponder. I always feel better, more uplifted, a bit wiser, after visiting. She seems to have learned- in the center of her heart – the importance of this scripture in Psalms 46:10:
Be still and know that I am God
I have learned much from her. Stuff I have needed to incorporate in my life.
3. My great grandfather had severe glaucoma. At least, I’m pretty sure that it was. I didn’t know what was wrong with him, as a small child. The medical community could offer little help. So, while I can remember seeing him, he couldn’t see me very well. He sat in a room with only one window, the curtains mostly closed. I wondered why he didn’t often join everyone else out in the cheerful, brightly lit kitchen and sitting area. When we would go in and visit with him, he’d be sitting in his rocker, always with a smile on his face. And always with some short but profound (I realized as I got older) bit of advice.
Now that I have severe glaucoma, I ‘get’ the darkened room, and I understand how hard this must have been for him – a busy, robust worker with much to do yet no more ability to get it done.
So, he Sat.
He Stood Still.
He made peace with his condition and with his circumstances. He offered over his will to God’s. Which is all any of us have to give our God, anyway.
And he listened. He prayed.
He enjoyed good music. He pondered. And he grew in goodness and in wisdom.
I remember little and it’s fuzzy, but it had impact. I had no idea, as a child, how much I learned from this good man.
So I’ve learned that there is a time to do something. And there is a time not to. It’s all very, very good.
And goodness matters.