Dolly Parton really knew what she was singing about. We tumble out of bed, stumble to the kitchen, pour ourselves a cup of ambition and yawning, stretching, try to come to life. There’s a better life and we think about it, don’t we? It’s a rich man’s game, no matter what they call it and we spend our lives putting money in his wallet.
So why do we do it? For money? Yes we need money to provide shelter and basic needs but do we live to make money and in doing so, miss out on actually living?
Work life balance is an elusive concept. Working hard is something we are built to do. We were designed to get satisfaction from an honest day’s labour. But what that has transformed into is settling for what makes us money, no matter what the cost.
If our work satisfies us and uses our skills, making the most of who we are, then it also gives glory to God. If our creative outlet is content sat at a desk from 9 til 5, then that’s great but for those who need more, it’s worth taking a moment (or two, or five) to figure out what we could do that would truly satisfy us in our work. Even the concept of work can be expanded far beyond anything involving an office. Our work can be with the people around us, with our families or pursuing the growth of particular gifts that we have that hold great scope to impact others. The potential benefits of finding a balance that compliments where we’re at in life and also satisfies us will always outweigh any sacrifice required in the process.
The Sabbath is a Biblical principle. Whether or not you believe that the earth was created in six days, the message of rest is undeniable.
I read a great blog earlier this week which spoke about the Rhythms of Rest and it prompted me to look at my perception of routine and change. As a girl of opposites I am a creature of habit but I love change that brings new challenges so I consciously work to keep a balance between the two.
I also find that change forces me out of my comfort zone and brings with it an exciting season of learning, new experiences and self-discovery. I love the feeling of achievement that change usually heralds and I love making memories in the process.
Of course, change isn’t always positive and at those times, when change is out of my control and life takes over, I revert swiftly to routine to maintain an internal equilibrium which helps me to deal with what the world currently holds. It takes fine tuning but I have found that at the core of this balance, is rest.
Making sure that there are times when I am able to recharge, either by myself or with those I am completely myself with, lies at the heart of both routine and change. Those rhythms of rest, when built in to my schedule, serve as a foundation in the good change and the bad. They prepare me to face whatever type of change comes, with energy, determination and a network of friends and family who encourage always. And when, inevitably, life is just a bit too much, rest brings a momentary peace in chaos and a temporary escape from the patterns and pressures of the day.
Simply put, rest is just one of life’s rhythms that is worth taking a moment to listen to.
I’ve found that when I have a productive day at work, I enjoy my leisure time immeasurably more. When I have been fruitful in my day’s work, my rest is the more refreshing for it.
6 Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
7 Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
8 she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest.
When I’ve had a lethargic day in the office, I am restless in the evenings, slow to settle and quick to fidget. The opposite is true if my day’s labour has been rewarding – I am quick to unwind and enjoy the pleasure of a job well done.
Don’t get me wrong, a frustrating day at work will keep me wound like a coil for a long time after I get home and I am then equally slow to unwind as if I’d had a day that yielded little or nothing. But somehow, it is a different kind of relaxing that is slow to be forthcoming as it is then my mind, not my body, that demands time to relax.
The latter, however, is something I have less control over than the former. I have only myself to blame if I haven’t geared myself up to produce something worthy of the time given to me in my day. Frustrations are inherent in the workplace and come from a combination of sources, most of which I have little or no control or influence over, so those days I simply accept that my mind will take a while to relax. But where possible, I would like to learn from the ant, working hard when I have the energy and motivation to do so and revelling in the rewarding relaxation that ensues.