Doing Whatever I Want

Posted on July 26, 2011

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I work with a woman, who far all intents and purposes, does whatever she wants. She has been working for the same non-profit for 40 years. She reads novels at her desk. She comes in whenever she wants. She has accumulated enough vacation and sick days that she takes off whenever she wishes with little consequence. She refuses to help answer the phone. She has yelled at someone who has taken too long in the women’s room. She resists change; I quote, “I’m only going to be here another 7-10 years, I’m not interested in learning anything new.” And due to passive management, she has been permitted to continue on doing whatever she wants.

This used to bother me, until, in a moment of illumination, I realized that she is a genius. Perhaps an evil genius, but an evil genius is still a genius.

She is a genius because she doesn’t do anything that she doesn’t want to do. As someone who, while claiming to be independent and clever, still worries about being late for appointments or what people will think about me, this attitude is very appealing.

So I decided that I was going to attempt, for 30 days, to do pretty much whatever I want and not much else. Just to see what will happen. To see if the consequences I fear are only in my mind. These consequences being: people will call me out, they will shame me, they will think less of me, somehow I won’t get my work done, and things of this nature.

As  I’ve shared this plan with people, there have been some common questions. Will you show up for work? Will you do your work? Will you attend meetings? Are you going to just sit on your couch and watch TV all day long?

To which I respond with, “You think the desires of my heart are to basically do every hedonistic, self-centered activity I can think of?”

It is interesting to me that when I say, “Do whatever I want.” Most people hear, “Sin as much as I want.” As if the only things we don’t do are “sins.”

The reality is that most of what I want to do are not sins, but things that are normally suffocated by the things I am “supposed” to do. For example, I feel a pressure to do the dishes, but I would rather spend time with the kids. Or I feel I should clean the basement, but I want to read a book.

This exercise is not for everyone. It isn’t for young people. Young Christians need to understand the world in black and white. That is simply their developmental level. But I don’t think we are intended to stay insulated in legalism. I think we are meant to grow and change and internalize the love/law of God so completely that we can follow our hearts, trusting them, trusting God, trusting the leading of the Spirit, even when it doesn’t make sense to us.

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence. (Colossians 2:9-23)

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:15-17)

I know that doing whatever you want sounds a little crazy. But sometimes biblical = a little bit crazy. Plus, I figured I would just try it. Why not? Most people don’t risk discovering what the desires of their heart actually are. They assume they want fatty foods, to be lazy, and to neglect their responsibilities. Maybe, by doing whatever they wanted, they would confirm this. Or, maybe if they let their heart speak, they would discover that their heart wants something different: to quit work and travel, to go back to school, to open a coffee shop, to speak up more often, to take a stand, to volunteer at an animal shelter.

You may discover that you are more creative than you thought. You may find out you don’t actually enjoy mowing the lawn, cooking, or driving a car. I don’t know, but I don’t think that, as Christians, we are supposed to fear the desires of our heart. Christ lives in us and his Spirit will guide us.

[Note: since composing this post I have had my first … back fire. I was at a youth conference where I was unexpectedly told that I would need to stay up until 11:30 to check that kids were in their rooms. As someone who doesn’t stay up late, I didn’t want to do this. So I didn’t.

Then at midnight there was a pounding on my door. A man said, “You didn’t check your kids in.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Do you know if they’re all here?”

“No, but I trust them.”

“Well, you know your kids. It’s your word.” [jots something down on his paper] “So you’ll check them in tomorrow?”

“Maybe.”

I did end up staying up late to check them in the next three nights, but I never actually checked on my kids. I just wandered down to the dorm lobby and told them they were all in. Everything turned out fine.

Was this what I wanted to do. Not really. What can I say? The experiment isn’t perfect.]

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