Some days, I am on top of things; other days, things are on top of me.
I don’t know when the stopwatch began and cannot discern whether or not this ticking is in my head or coming from the clock on the wall. But time is winding up.
This might be carry over from my Pentecostal-Holiness upbringing. Jesus is coming back, and I need to have all of my work done. Pray for me.
I like to work and pride myself on it. I bury myself in it and won’t cry out even when I am up to my eyeballs in it.
“Buried alive by paper and surrounded by the books she loved so dearly”; this will be my eulogy. Order my days with post-it notes and check lists with check boxes.
I am an introvert, a Type A personality, a workaholic, a recovering people-pleaser who, ironically, will choose work over relationships every single time.
Because there is no guarantee that the latter will work out. People will let you down but there is always more work to do. Monday never fails me.
Still, I just wanted everyone to be happy with me – and by everyone, I mean my family.
I’ve addressed this in therapy. Because it all starts during childhood, right? Perfect attendance and honor roll certificates, I have been known for my work since I was in grade school.
“Show me your report card.” I lived for performance reviews. From gold stars to 5 out of 5 evaluations, we are rated on our work, which can make it hard to rest.
Except during this global pandemic caused by COVID-19 when many of us began to reevaluate our understanding of work. Many are deciding what works best for us now that our work is housed under one roof.
Surprisingly, the most rewarding change in my vocational life happened when I said no to more work and then I quit.
It wasn’t on my list of things to do but I knew that I had to, joining what Anthony Klotz, professor of management at Texas A&M University, calls “the great resignation.”
This mass quitting is discussed by Jana Haounji who writes in Entrepreneur: “While 2020 hit everyone hard, whether individually or on the level of organizations, thinking that returning to how life was before the coronavirus pandemic hit is going to be a simple affair is a mistake. In fact, people learned a lot about themselves and their work during this crisis, and as such, they are actually now more prone to quitting their current jobs and pursuing others that provide them with the flexibility and life balance they want.”
What do workers want? A work-life balance.
It took a pandemic for me to realize that something was off. Well past the tipping point, I became keenly aware that I had nothing more to prove, that there were not enough gold stars that would warrant me working my fingers to the bone.
In fact, overworking didn’t please God and served no one. I decided to give that narrative a rest too.
Because with a deadly virus prowling and looking for someone to devour, working myself to death just didn’t make sense. I needed to give myself a break — with two weeks’ notice, of course.
Even God took a day off and Jesus took a nap, I reminded myself. They would approve and be my examples moving forward.
Walter Brueggemann’s Sabbath as Resistance deepens my understanding of social justice, which includes seeking justice for one’s self in a capitalist system lest I be crushed to death by its machinery.
Brueggemann says, “The Sabbath sanctifies time through sanctioned forms of rest and inaction.”
Walking away from the assembly line and refusing to accept the demand to be productive all of the time is holy.
The sad thing is that I have read several books on Sabbath: Lauren F. Winner’s Mudhouse Sabbath, The Sabbath World by Judith Shulevitz and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s classic work, The Sabbath.
Heschel says, “[Those who want] to enter the holiness of the day must first lay down the profanity of clattering commerce, of being yoked to toil.”
Before their words went to print, Jesus said that I was not made for the Sabbath; instead, it was made for me (Mark 2:27).
I have ears to hear it now, and I want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps — not for a blue ribbon or for a gold star. But because he gives me a break.
Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles this week for Labor Day 2021 (Sept. 6).