I'm thinking it's time you know something I am really very bad at.
Just sitting down, doing little but savoring something God created me to enjoy seems to necessitate a sturdy roll of duct tape (with a strip for my mouth—and one for my brain, if they make those). At first that could sound like I must be quite the woman of character—a hard worker; persevering; a servant. But my (occasionally irritated) family or close friends know better. The same God who created me to work and take care of my family also repeatedly associates Himself with rest, commands me to rest, made me to rest not only every seven days but one-third of every day. And I have a reputation for not listening.
While many of the reasons that I can't. Seem. To stop. Working are very good ones (waaaay more demands than I have resources, longing to serve God with every bit of the resources He's given, helping people, wanting to be the Proverbs 31 woman to my family, etc.), I also have some very bad ones.
- Working late into the night, eating lunch standing up, etc. can feed my martyr complex: It's that strange sensation that if I'm uncomfortable or suffering to some degree, I am a better person. (This is quite wrong. I am working through Gary Thomas' Pure Pleasure right now, and believe me, I need that book. The subtitle: Why do Christians feel so bad about feeling good?)
- Working to serve others can make me look good, or can put me in the "giver" position, rather than the humility of receiving (Martha and Peter are my biblical colaborers/co-OCDers in this). It feeds my insatiable pride, self-righteousness, and idol of others' respect.
can attempt to replace my validation from God alone as I feel more important and worthy and in control. In that way, it subverts the power of the Gospel in my life—I depend on something else to save me, to make me "saveable" in His eyes other than Jesus' work. I try to bring something else to the table. Working can cement the idea that I am earning God's favor (wrong again; Christ's work gained my favor with God).
- Working can replace my faith in God's ability to provide for me and give me time to accomplish what He's asked me to do—and nothing more, which really is that: when I'm doing "more" than He asked, it's stepping out of His will, doing less than His best for me. My labor can become an active worry (though in my mind, it's more of an active concern, or concerted effort), laboring and spinning rather than trusting, like the lilies, that God will supply my needs; after all, each day has enough trouble of its own. It can proceed from fear rather than faith.
- Working can turn me into a profound "elder brother" like the one in the parable of the Prodigal Son, one lacking compassion, full of arrogance and contempt as I labor beneath a burden of my own making. If you have an inkling you could identify, by the way, the last message in this incredible series is a don't-miss message from Tim Keller.
- Working can keep me from sitting at Jesus' feet, so to speak, taking the time to listen and enjoy God like Mary did. It can take the place of some truly great gifts and knowledge of God's goodness—the sheer joy of Him. I've missed moments of prayer, of laughing, of enjoying my kids that I will never redeem in this life. I've foregone opportunities for relationships and for adoring God rather than chafing under a burden I've created in His Name.
Now in my case, this may be a little bit of a "generational sin" too—my forbears have, in my very limited perspective, lashed their hands to the plow, so to speak. This is not an excuse; it is an explanation. But realizing this, will I choose courage and humility to break its bondage?
More to come on a more "solution-oriented" post as I think through this. I hope.
Meanwhile, please pass the duct tape. It's getting late.
Author's note: This post will also appear in a new blog for moms, Breathe.