Tuesday, March 04, 2014

Keep Calm and Work Like Crazy?

"A hurricane wind ripped through the mountains and shattered the rocks before God, but God wasn’t to be found in the wind; after the wind an earthquake, but God wasn’t in the earthquake; and after the earthquake fire, but God wasn’t in the fire; and after the fire a gentle and quiet whisper. When Elijah heard the quiet voice, he muffled his face with his great cloak, went to the mouth of the cave, and stood there. A quiet voice asked, “So Elijah, now tell me, what are you doing here?” Elijah said it again, “I’ve been working my heart out for God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies..." 1 Kings 19:12-14 MSG

I am immersed in work. I like it. I like the people. There will be times when we may not quite see eye to eye (that is pretty normal, isn't it?), but generally, we're all mature and loving and able to work through those differences. I worked late today to finish a task and realized how easy it is to fall back into that mode of giving my all at the office. I remember that feeling even though it's been 22 years since I last worked full time.

If I'm being open, I have to admit it's a bit of avoidance. Tuesday is a free night. There's no one home but the dog. It seems more important and valuable to finish work for which I am being paid. However, I do not want this to be a habit and I treasure the ability to leave at 4 p.m. when office hours are over. Most nights the dog won't be able to hold it, after holding it all day. Today, however, she had no accidents.

I believe as I get used to the rhythm, ebb and flow of the office, I will find my footing and my boundaries. Prioritizing, ignoring the allure of rabbit trails, being willing to say "That's good enough," instead of being so thorough and perfectionistic that I force the need to work extra time to meet an impossible standard I've set for myself. The A-student syndrome. Even though saying "That's good enough" sounds like blasphemy to a recovering perfectionist, I am forcing myself to practice saying it and living it. Oh, but it's hard.

Guarding my personal time is an essential step in proper self-care. If I give all my extra energy and time at work, then the tasks at home don't get done. Then I don't feel I can relax and just unwind. When I do, it feels like a guilty pleasure instead of the necessary restorative practice it is. Am I alone in this?

I also have used the "no time" excuse blatantly in my spiritual life. I take a Soul Care class on Monday nights. As we learn the art of Spiritual Direction for others, we first have to learn to practice these disciplines for ourselves. The 15 minutes we spend in contemplation at the beginning of each class is a taste of heaven. It would be a simple thing to engage myself accordingly at home, but I don't. Why do I resist something so healing that creates a spacious place where I can encounter my spirit being open to God?

Lent is coming. These are the questions I need to sit with. To speak about with God. To consider Jesus, who though there were hundreds (perhaps thousands) of needy people pressing in to see him, to touch him, to ask his help and his healing, to hear his teaching, still... he withdrew often to solitary places to pray. He didn't work overtime and go to bed depleted.

I want to go to the Source.
This blog is my prayer.

Keep calm and stop carrying on.
Be still.