I came to a realization about myself – not the most impressive one. I have a lot of “unfinished business,” well, at least with personal things. When it’s “work” given to me by someone else, with deadlines, I generally accomplish those in a timely fashion.
Cross-stitches I started years ago remain unfinished in my drawer.
Blog posts I have begun – over 150 at the moment – are incomplete and unposted.
And then there are the books. I have a neat excel file of the working titles I have given to my “books.” There are more than 50 now. One column gives the number of words written for each book. I have over 100,000 words – but no more than 15,000 in any one of them.
Photo albums. Lots of them, with packets of photographs sitting on top of them, rather than placed inside.
If I died any time soon, for any reason, I would have left a lot of things undone. I’d have to get someone auction off all my ideas.
I wondered though, why do I operate this way?
One reason could be that ideas are always popping into my head. I’ll wake up from a vivid dream and before the morning is over, will have a book outline from it. Poetry starts forming in my mind as I’m sitting on a bus, or reading, or working.
And blog posts? Any time the randomness of my thoughts come together into a cohesive pattern, a moral interwoven – through an experience of the day, an memory from the past, or a realization of some sort – I start to write it up.
That’s the problem. I start.
Then I get a phone call, or reach my destination, or get a request from one of my kids, or realize I need to get back to work, start dinner, or wake the kids.
Is it procrastination? Busyness? Lack of organization? Too many pies up there in the sky? All of the above? What’s the solution to getting a few things from “pending” in my brain somewhere to “complete,” where they can actually make a difference and benefit someone?
In his book, The Weathering Grace of God, Ken Gire writes of the importance of “stillness.”
“Poets know the importance of … stillness. They know that if they are still enough, long enough, the art they are working on will speak to them, tell them what it wants to be and what it needs from them to become it. All artists know this, whether they work with paint or clay, words or musical notes.
“Michelangelo knew how to be still before the stone and listen to the David within it. Strauss knew how to be still before the Danube and listen to the waltz that was eddying about in its waters. Monet knew how to be still before the pond and listen to the lilies sunning on its surface. …
“Our culture knows little of this kind of listening.”
The best ideas, and the completion of them, require not only time to do them, but also stillness. Listening – to know what it is that needs to be done with them.
We are encouraged by the Psalms to, “Be still and know that I am God.” The finishing work – whether of a small project or of life itself – requires stillness in mind and soul.
It is easy to start something. It is good to start something. Well begun is half done, as they say. But to finish something – to see it through to the end – is not always easy.
It takes time. Patience. Faith. And those aren’t always easy to come by. We don’t always find them by looking within, or by looking around.
But when we look up, and in peace and quiet of mind, listen to the still, small voice that whispers to all mankind, we will know the path to take to complete what we have begun … and what He has begun in our lives.
We are all, in a way, God’s unfinished business. He has started a lot of things that are well begun, even perfect in their own right. But we are not complete. The work continues: the molding, the shaping, the cutting, the polishing.
Along with the promise: “He makes all things beautiful in His time.”
(And look at that, another blog post complete.)