I've been retired for six months.
In the last couple weeks, two people have asked, "What do you do all day?" Maybe it was idle chitchat, maybe it was genuine interest, maybe it was based in our society's idolatry of productivity or maybe something else entirely. The thing is, while I don't keep a log and I don't deposit a regular paycheck, I know what I've accomplished and I'm very content with how I spend my time without feeling any obligation to explain this to friends or curious onlookers. In fact, the calendar has gotten so crowded that I've had to say "No" to some things.
(I wrote a long paragraph here listing the things I do, but it sounded like I was bragging so I deleted it.)
If I've said "Yes" to you, be sure that I thought and prayed about it and made an intentional decision to invest my time that way.
If I've said "No" to you, it was the same. A thoughtful consideration of whether I could invest my resources of time, intellect and/or emotion in whatever it was you requested. You accept my "No" very graciously, with understanding.
Then there are some others who might fit the following description which the historical fiction author Stephen Pressfield has outlined. I have known people like this. They aren't in my life any more, but once in a while a new one shows up and my "No" has to be a broken record.
Pressfield writes: "My problem is I like to think of myself as a nice guy. This is not good. I’m working on getting over that. There are people out there who are what I would call social sociopaths. They’re not actual murderers or criminals; they won’t hurt you. But, for whatever reasons of character or upbringing, they are utterly without empathy. They have no sense of the value of another person’s time or hard-won skill or hard-earned reputation. If you’ve got it and they can use it, they want it. They want it now. They want it free. And they want it again and again." excerpt from "An Ask Too Far"
Saying "No" isn't always easy. If you find yourself run ragged, maybe you are being affected by these kind of people. Maybe you need to practice your "No". Big warning here: it will make them mad. They will be disappointed in you. They will try to shame you for not helping them. Some family members and church people are notorious for this. Stay your course. Even Jesus didn't heal everyone. He went away regularly to quiet places to renew himself, even though the crowds were still asking for his help. Follow his example and realize you can't help everyone, including family members.
And if people demand to know what you do all day, you can simply say, "I make decisions."
Still having trouble getting your head around this? Here's another blog about it.
Photo Credits: 1) DepositPhotos.com #10589068, Standard License