The Inefficiency of Joy
As a business guy, I'm rather interested in efficiency. I find myself saying the word often and I find my attention narrowing in on how to make our company run more smoothly and without wasted energy.
This morning, as with all mornings, I took my dog Titus on a walk. Usually I walk him before the kids (and the sun) are up, but this morning I had a late start. I invited them to come with me. Liam's 6 and Lila's almost 4. I was in a bit of a hurry this morning, given the late start and all. I had a conference call and needed to lift weights and take out the trash and so on.
Lila was in her Yoshi costume, a head-to-toe green thing which she won't take off. Liam threw on some clothes over his bed head and ran out the door. The walk took a while. Lila stopped because her training wheels got high-centered in the grass. Liam charged ahead and then came back to tell me which Mario characters we each should pretend to be. Again, it took a while.
At first, I tried to goad them along quickly. Let's go, Daddy has to go to work. Nevermind that hurrying little kids doesn't work, nor should it. As we meandered around the block in fits and starts, it hit me:
Joy is inefficient.
Jesus honored Mary, who sat at his feet doing nothing but soaking in his presence (to the annoyance of Martha, who was busy and efficient). You see, our American context of the pursuit of success by way of hard work smears our life lenses a little. Now don't get me wrong, I am way in favor of hard work. I am way in favor of efficiency and punctuality and all that. But sometimes we squeeze the smile out of life in an effort to be efficient little machines. We aren't machines.
Joy - and play - are never efficient. They are by nature inefficient. They are the pursuit of the delightful for its own sake. A good meal is slow and expensive, a huge investment of resources with nearly zero measurable ROI - but we all know a feast is glorious. Lila riding her bike with her Yoshi costume in spirals and figure eights is not the shortest distance between two points, but she smiles that big smile of hers and turns the world brighter.
Today, what if we heeded the command to be still and know God is God? What if we remembered our daily bread comes not from our weary hands but from God's? What if we remembered that God does not ask us to be God, but rather a child? We can still work hard and take care of everything God has given us to care for, but along the way we can stop and see the art of his world while we are in it. Give it a try.