It’s been exactly one year since I posted anything to this site. A few weeks before that last post, I put up a post explaining that my theme for 2019 was the “Year of Rebooting”. I expected to follow up on that often over the course of the year with my thoughts on productivity and planning while I worked out a new system. It was to be a sort of proving ground for some grand ideas. Of course, that’s not what happened.
Instead, not long after that post I realized that I was in no shape to share what I knew about planning and productivity. In fact, I could barely motivate myself to take care of the basic requirements of my work and family life. It turned out that the reboot I needed was not for my productivity system, but for my soul.
So I didn’t write for my blog. I didn’t build a new system. Instead I began to work through why, for the first time in my life, I had fallen into depression. My depression was circumstantial and lasted for a season—a long season, over a year. But in the process of healing I discovered what went wrong. With the help of my wife, a great counselor, friends, and more than anyone Jesus, I came to understand and accept the place I found myself in. It wasn’t permanent, but it was real. And admitting it allowed me to address what had gone sideways, where I failed, and how I reacted when tossed around by circumstance.1
I discovered that the word “control” explains much of my desire to be productive, useful, prolific, and respected. I want to control everything. Of course for a Christian this should be no surprise. This desire for omnipotence grows from the same root that produced rebellion in the Garden of Eden: a desire to be like God. And recent history has demonstrated that I am, in fact, not god-like at all. So for me, healing began with letting some things go. Letting go of unrealistic plans. Letting go of envy. Admitting that my desires are often—though not always—to control, to rule, and to reign.
Which brings me to the point I sat down to make. Planning and systems are good things. They help us understand how to accomplish goals and how to achieve worthy ends. Learning how to successfully plan and execute work and personal responsibilities is critical to having a meaningful and (actually) productive life. But no amount of planning can guarantee it. No system, philosophy, or technique can deliver perfection. And yet that is what I (and I’m guessing some of you) really want. We want to be in control. We want things our way. Because then—we think—it would be perfect.
But we cannot control everything. And we cannot make all things right.
So, sitting here at the end of the “Year of Rebooting” I don’t have some grand new system. I don’t have a plan that I’m confident in. And that’s actually a very good thing.
Because what lies ahead is what Jesus won for me: a clean slate.
This is only my experience. Every experience of depression is unique. I cannot explain anyone else’s experience, and mine should not be used to understand or define someone else’s. I’m making no generalizations, this is just my story. ↩