I realized something today: I don’t actually live my life.
Let me explain. I am very busy. I am a mother, I pastor a church, I teach classes, I attend seminary, and I take care of my house. I attend meetings, I plan lessons and sermons, I make bulletins, I do assignments, and I keep appointments. I visit people, I make phone calls, and I write for church, school, or class, every single day. I run by to see my mother or I have dinner with my daughter. I meet my friends for lunch or I go to a potluck at church.
But I don’t live my life.
My life is a series of deadlines and to-do lists. I go from one project to the next and just hope to be finished with each one before the next one is due. Working 7 days a week means my life is defined by what I do, not who I am.
I don’t relax. I don’t have fun. And I think I have forgotten who I am. I don’t go on vacation; I don’t know when I would fit it in, and even if I found the time, I would still have to find the money. It isn’t our fault, really. To survive in today’s world, it typically takes more than one job. We spend all of our time and energy making a living, and if we aren’t careful, end up forgetting what we were living for.
What has happened to us? When did simply surviving become the standard of living in our society? We are always “on.” There is never a time that we aren’t at work because our work can go with us everywhere we go, on laptops, iPads, and phones. And we are afraid to turn them off because so much is going on in the world, and we don’t want to get left behind.
I did this to myself, and therefore, I am the only one who can undo it. If money is the reason I work all the time, then maybe I need to reevaluate where my money is going. Paying for less cable TV might be worth having Saturday afternoons off. An older model car might be good enough if it meant I could travel with my children and share experiences instead of things.
I am tired. We are tired. There is no such thing as a 40 hour work week in today’s world. I don’t know if it is politics, religion, family values, or a bit of all of that which needs to change, but we as a society need to remember who we are again. Why did you think you had to work so hard in the first place? What exactly did you start working so hard for? Whatever, or whomever, the answer to that question is, you should give them more of your time.
Recently, a video went viral of a young woman who found a Star Wars mask when she was shopping, and as she tried it on in her car, she was overtaken with the pure and simple joy of just enjoying that moment. The video has been viewed millions of times as others, desperate for a moment of joy themselves, reacted to her happiness.
I get it. Many of us simply don’t have a choice. You have to clock in to your job or you can’t pay the electric bill or buy groceries. But even in the midst of the absolutely draining business of life, we must find a Sabbath. I really think it is critical to getting our society back to a place of peace. How can we, as a country, have peace, if every person in it is working themselves to death?
I dare you to get off the computer right now and go find your version of a Star Wars mask. Make a vow to not do a single minute of work tomorrow (or whatever the next day you have “off” is) and stick to it. The work you need to do will still be there after you have a few moments of rest. We need it. As a society, we need to rest. We need to remember what it is that we are working for, and we need to remember how to be ourselves again.
I used to love riding bikes. I bet my Great Pyrenees would love running along beside me as I ride a bike. Maybe I will sell one of my three laptops, which I have so that I can work in every room of my house, and go shopping for a new bike. Who knows, maybe I will remember who that bike riding girl was, and share some of her joy with my children before they grow up and forget who they are too.
2 On the sixth day God completed all the work that he had done, and on the seventh day God rested from all the work that he had done. 3 God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all the work of creation.