we must work

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we must work

and just to set the record straight, i’m not at all talking about earning salvation, works righteousness or any of the like. this isn’t about that so i hope you don’t read any of that into this.

here goes…

i’ve been off work for a day less than a week. why? because i had surgery, the kind that requires that you take off two weeks. it’s the fatigue, the healing process. and yes, i’m privileged enough to actually be able to take those weeks off. i know that. many of you would have no choice but to return to work week, tired and in pain, forced to sacrifice your body so that your family can eat. for you, i pray and plead that God will provide your body with all the strength it needs to make it through the days ahead.*

my reality is different. and a downside of this reality is that while i’m able to sit comfortably on my couch or sleep the day away, my mind is going a little crazy. why? i’m sure there are various reasons that i could come up with but the main one i want to explore today is this: i’m unable to work. even if i wanted to prop up my laptop or a blank sheet of paper and brainstorm away, i don’t have the energy for that. in the last 45 minutes, i’ve sent 3 emails. my upper body now aches. my eyes are droopy. but i’m stubborn. so before i lay down and read in an attempt to fall asleep, or before i do my required daily walk, i need to get these thoughts down. i’ve wanted to write for days, write on anything, just get stuff out. my neck hurts. but i’m stubborn. i’ve sorted clothes, purged stuff from my closet floor but i haven’t had the energy to create and i am a small-c creator who needs to work.

now, i can’t do just anything otherwise my now cleaner closet floor would be satisfactory. i have to stuff that’s mentally stimulating. something that has a clear beginning and end, preferably. something that has meaning beyond me; navel-gazing is not an approved sport. i have to do stuff that is both meaningful and creative in order for my brain to experience happy equilibrium. but i can’t. even the few emails i sent (which were work-related…i know, scold me later) were dangerous to send. they will elicit responses to which i’ll then need to respond. that’s dangerous because i’m tired. my neck hurts. forearms are telling me to stop typing. mentally, i can’t afford to start things, begin the creative process…because i’ll want to continue and the more i continue, the more i’ll want to move things all the way to resolution. it’s a good problem and yet it’s a frustrating one. and i’m discovering that something really good happens when we’re able to work, so much so that when we can’t work (unless we’re void of ambition and haven’t been modeled a good work ethic) we eventually enter this state that i’m in.

thankfully, i don’t do pity parties. yes, i whine a bit to my husband but that’s just for fun. i don’t believe in wallowing. i believe in moving forward. and i’m learning that the main thing i can do to move forward is to be still. it makes sense but it’s hard to accept. i tell myself that by next week this time, i’ll be so much better IF AND ONLY IF i keep laying low now. why continue on this stubborn trail only to still be off work in a week simply because i didn’t rest this week? why knowingly do that to myself?

and so, just as i know that we must work–we must occupy our time wisely (even if it’s unpaid volunteer time)–i also know that there’s a time when we must (if we can) stop the work that utilizes our gifts and strengths and energizes us…and do the work that doesn’t look like work, the work that produces little (if any) visible and others-focused results, the work that gets us better.

so whether you’ve just had a major surgery or are unable to do the work you want to do because God has you working on some inner stuff, stop fighting. don’t get lazy but stop fighting. surrender to now. yes, we must work. and yes, there’s a time for everything…Ecclesiastes 3.


*if you know someone in those shoes, please help them. and for those of you who have time and can volunteer at a hospital for an hour a week, please do so, please be a face of encouragement to those who have no one. i’m not sure what hospitals allow. some folks just need help walking around. you probably can’t do that with a stranger, but you can give a stranger some flowers, a card, a high five. or go check in on your neighbor who just had surgery. take some food. help them walk around the neighborhood. okay. can you tell i’ve learned some stuff about post-op life?

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