Friend. You and me both. 

I’ve baked more in the last fortnight than the previous four months combined. My husband is rejoicing but it’s just as well my athletic sister is with us for lockdown: her workout inclinations are *hopefully* balancing out our snacking ones. Just the other day she eyed me over and asked if I ever planned on switching up my wardrobe. It was day 4 of me sporting the same cardi and t-shirt dress, which had admittedly doubled as PJs the previous night. 

Week Two Feels

From the chats I’ve had this past week, there are some common refrains: 

Getting out of bed is harder than ever.  Assignments are piling up (unless you’re one of the lucky ducks on break at AUT, Vic or Canterbury).  We’re increasingly sick of screens. 

And our motivation to apply ourselves is dwindling, whether that’s to study, train, or spend time with God. 

You might have thought yourself quite the diligent student- that is, until you became homebound with what feels like heeeeaps of time to watch lectures and smash out essays. Somehow it’s 11pm and you’ve polished off six episodes of Stranger Things but your essay’s only three paragraphs longer (fine, two and a half). Lockdown makes it easy to be lulled into this false sense of being time-rich. The irony is that the more time we think we have, the more we tend to squander. 

Isn’t it interesting what character traits (and deficiencies!) become evident when our days are left up to us to direct, without externally-imposed structure?

Getting Personal

My issue at the moment: staying focussed on the activity at hand. I am chronically distractible. Replying to texts whilst on Zoom calls, getting sidetracked by the black hole of YouTube, hoping that something new lands in my inbox to give me a ‘legitimate’ reason to divert my attention from work. It feels almost compulsive, like an addiction. 

In the last couple of days, I’ve sensed God nudging me to resolve upon a different way: to be present. To retrain my brain and heart to honour the priority of the moment. To refuse to indulge the urge to split my attention willy nilly. 

And to remember whose time it is that I’m ultimately investing (or wasting): His.    

A New Take on Time

I treat my days differently when I’ve lingered over how lavishly generous God has been to me. It’s when I recall his kindness that I want to honour him with the hours of work, play and rest he entrusts to me each day. That kindness informs the priorities I set for the week each Monday, the ones I refer back to Tuesday through Friday mornings as I get settled in for the day. 

Yes, we could pour our hours into independent activity, frenetic study, frittering them away on entertainment. Or we could offer those hours back to God. We could learn how to study and play and connect with others in a way that engages with his right-here-ness and is shaped by Scripture. Our study and play could actually become acts of worship, things we do with him and for him. In God’s ensuing delight, we just might find our delight too.

Now there’s a well of motivation to draw from when our own reserves are dwindling! 

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

– Romans 12:1-2

What practical tweaks could you make to treat the next week’s study and/ or chill time as an act of worship? Who’s someone you could ask to pray for you as you do that?

Extra Inspo:

  • See how many of the other experiences below you can tick off. What else would you add to the list? Comment below!

Grace Mackenzie is a Dunedin-based Fiwi (Fijian-Kiwi) on the Student Life national team. This past week she has enjoyed roasting marshmallows with her husband and sister over a fire pit. She has not enjoyed losing to said sister in Bananagrams three times in a row.