Are you working too hard - not because your work is needed but because you can't seem to stop? I get this issue ... Read on as friend Donna Fagerstrom woos us to come apart to rest.
By Donna Fagerstrom
My early memories around the age of 8 were of enormous responsibilities. My parents both worked very difficult jobs; Mom worked days and Dad worked nights as they struggled to provide for our family. By the time they would arrive home, they were totally exhausted. The only strength they had left was to eat a meal, get cleaned up for bed and prepare to face the next day of work.
Obviously, long working hours by my parents meant that my sister and I did many of the household chores. I became responsible for cleaning, cooking, ironing and mowing the grass until I left home for college. That was all I knew to do - work. While I was trying to help my parents, I was hurting me. I was becoming a "workaholic." I felt like there was never space for play or fun. There was always work to be done. I have carried this pattern into my adult life.
I'm a list maker. I sit down each month and for each day of the month I make out my "to-do" list. I don't want to forget anything that needs to be done. I even leave room on each list for jobs that will come up that I might have overlooked. Yes, I have functioned this way my whole adult life. I can't rest until I have that list completed. I will work to complete my lists, no matter the cost. Workaholism is a serious problem. It is my problem.
Jesus invites us to rest. There are probably no more welcoming words than those of Jesus: Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28). This verse is for me. That's what I want - rest. And it is a gift from Jesus.
To cease from work is God's design. He did just that after he created the world and everything in it. I yearn for Sabbath. My concern is that I don't always know how to appropriate rest for my every day.
I'm learning to make some of those simple everyday choices. I am learning to say, "no" and give myself permission to ...
Sleep in once in awhile (without feeling guilty).
Not complete my daily to-do list.
Take time to go to the beach with my husband, even when there is still work to be done.
Make time to just hang out with friends.
Add me time to the to-do list.
When I don't follow the simple healthy choices above, indeed workaholism takes over. It becomes an ugly giant in my life that tends to maim and cripple. The drive to work harder for personal achievement and self-worth becomes an idol. It passively appears as a small seed and begins to grow. Rest is nowhere to be found.
God never says, "Work harder." He does say "Be Still!" It is my choice. No one does it for me.
Donna Fagerstrom has spent a life of ministry in music, worship and discipleship - serving for over 40 years, mostly in pastoral ministries. She has contributed numerous devotionals and her work appears in eight books. In 2010 Donna received "The Woman of Influence Award" from Cornerstone University. Her family, friends and prayer are the loves of her life.