On the last day of school, I had a little fun with our students and their parents. People who attend high-achieving private schools tend to have Type A personalities. I can relate to that because I tend more towards the Type A personality myself. We Type As are very competitive, with lots of self-criticism and a tendency towards workaholism. We seem always to have a sense of urgency, to be striving, and, sometimes, we have an inability to enjoy accomplishments. Unsurprisingly, this can lead to ill health, particularly of the cardiac and gastronomic variety.
On the last day of school, I asked the students (and the parents in attendance- they are the ones who need it the most) to stand up, raise their right hands, and swear that over the summer they will plan an extended amount of time in which they will do absolutely nothing. I warned them that, if they did not do this, they would all become “neurotic nuts”. They were all rolling in laughter at this point, and I added the term “neurotic nut” to several more commands that they set aside time to do nothing.
This idea is well-founded in Scripture. It would take too long to cite all the passages in the Bible that deal with rest. All you have to do is look at the seventh day in Genesis (Gen. 2:1-2) and the Fourth Commandment (Ex. 20:8-11). Jesus said if we would come to Him, He would give us rest (Matt. 11:28-30). We are not machines. We are neither invulnerable nor omnipotent. Treating ourselves as if we are causes acute damage to our souls, hearts, minds, and bodies. We need help. We don’t need to turn Type A people into Type B people. We need to turn Type A people into recovering Type A people.
My family and I are heading out on vacation. First, we will teach a summer camp session at Camp Allen, then we will go to the beach. We’re going to fish, crab, play in the surf, look for seashells, and swim. We’re also going to do a lot of sitting around- doing absolutely nothing. We have a lot to do here at St. Thomas’ but I’m going to try my best to put it out of my mind and not think about it at all. I invite you to do the same in your own way. Put aside the guilt- either your own or the guilt people give you. All of that is “neurotic nuttiness”.
Don’t be a neurotic nut. You need rest and so do I. So, raise your right hand and repeat after me…
— David Browder, Rector