Any minute my kids are going to wake up, and I’ll shut off my laptop so I can be with them. My middle son is almost always up at exactly 7am, which is the time they’re allowed to wake up. His biological alarm clock is both accurate and faithful.
This week, I’ve been learning a lot about boundaries on work. It’s a new thing for me, being paid by the hour/by the article. It’s also a new thing to be “paid” at all. Before this season of our lives, my husband and I were missionaries. So it’s not that we were paid to do missions work; we were supported by donations, so we could put all our efforts into serving.
There were boundary issues with that lifestyle as well, as any minister, and probably most nonprofit leaders, can testify. (I hear the kids now. 7:05.)
I suppose the logical way to learn this new balance would be to take cues from my old way of balancing.
- Notice the signs that I’ve overstuffed my life (not wanting to see any humans ever, even if they’re my offspring; eating cold leftovers even if I’m not hungry; etc., etc.)
- Talk with my husband about how I’ve worked myself into a pickle. Promising more output than I have capacity to produce. He probably thinks to himself, “Here again? If this territory isn’t pleasant, at least it’s familiar.”
- Carve out an hour or two of quiet so I can reassess my motives.
That last bit is the part I always forget that I need. I remember the first time it dawned on me that motives are important. I was at a Christian retreat, in the middle of a stuffy worship session (stuffy because the air in the room was being breathed by so many people.) I was doing the things you’re supposed to do during worship time when the thought came to me, “You do not receive because you ask with wrong motives.”
I left the stuffy room and stood by the lake. I felt crazy and wild as a young person who had never snuck out of her summer camp cabin and always listened carefully when the rules were being explained (I still listen on the airplane to the oxygen mask talk. It’s not something I’m proud of).
My chest was burning with the question: what are my motives? I didn’t even get answers to the question. The answer is always kaleidoscopic and always unfolding. There is good mixed in with bad. It all becomes increasingly complicated, as I realize there are more than two possible colors.
Rather than understanding myself better—and needing less time to sort out my motives—I find myself needing more time and less talking on my part. More listening and more resting to get things in order.
That’s what I need today. More listening and more resting. More enjoying what is before me and not worrying so much about whether I’ll accomplish all the things I said I could do. To those readers who practice Sabbath-keeping (i.e., taking a day off because God is bigger than work), may it be a refreshing one for you. And may we all find those boundaries that bring rest.
Here are a couple articles I’ve written recently for BibleStudyTools.com (I would add nice pictures and stuff, but I’m going to go make pancakes with my kids!)
How to Bring Biblical Blessings into Your Life
Shifting our Focus from Tragedy to Hope (in memory of 9/11)