Just going through the motions

Recently I was with a group of college students, they were talking about people who “just go through the motions.”  The implication of this phrase was that there are people who are not “real” and “authentic.” Even more so, there are people who are not passionate about what they are doing, who do not really believe in what they are doing, they are “just going through the motions.”

I certainly understand their critique, however I am often drawn to stand back and look to see if there might be a different way to view things, especially when claims are made that seem to label people as unspiritual or as not measuring up in someway.  Often I find that its easy to take the things I do well and somehow spiritualize it in a way that makes me stand out better than the others around.  I so, this time, I asked myself, “Is it ever ok to just go through the motions?”

Here’s some thoughts:  When a husband or wife make a point to kiss their spouse goodbye in the morning, or greet each other when meeting at the end of a day that was full, is it ok then to just go through the motions?  If I am feeling tired, whiny, discouraged, depressed, or frustrated at the end of my day, should I just leave out greeting my wife today, because my kiss would be inauthentic?   Do I only tell her “I love you” when I am feeling it in the moment, or is there something to be said for a pattern of life in which the routine carries the true heart I want to convey, regardless of what happened today?

When someone is suffering grief from the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, or something else important in their world, might “just going through the motions” help in someway as they experience the difficulties and pain of loss?

I quickly came to an understanding, that even though faking life and hiding the pain and struggle of life is not the answer as the college students were sharing in our meeting, that there also can be value sometimes when I am just not feeling it, to “go through the motions” that help reaffirm to me and to those I love, the things I believe and things that are most important in life.

What are some important things to you?  What are some motions you want to keep practicing no matter what else is going on?  What practical actions, what spiritual practices, what loving actions need to keep on going in your life?

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