What’s with the splinters from the cross? Read this post from a few Fridays ago to catch up. This is my little attempt at keeping Fridays a bit more solemn in Lent. Previous weeks have dealt with anger, worry, and perfectionism. This week, it’s the addiction to work; which is a kind of perfectionism problem too.
Splinter from the Cross
Little headaches, little heartaches
Little griefs of every day.
Little trials and vexations,
How they throng around our way!
One great cross, immense and heavy,
so it seems to our weak will,
Might be borne with resignation,
But these many small ones kill.
Yet all life is formed of small things,
Little leaves, make up the trees,
Many tiny drops of water
Blending, make the mighty seas.
Let us not then by impatience
Mar the beauty of the whole,
But for love of Jesus bear all
In the silence of our soul.
Asking Him for grace sufficient
To sustain us through each loss,
And to treasure each small offering
As a splinter from His Cross.
- Author Unknown -
There’s a crazy kind of rhythm to the creative process. I’ll be honest. Sometimes I really don’t keep “normal” workday hours. My responsibilities are such that I’m often master of my own calendar and clock — very unlike my longtime career as a mother of children under our roof. Much more like my hectic radio days of long ago. And very slowly, over the last year or so, I’ve gravitated toward working a bit too much. It fills the time when I’m alone if Bob travels. It gives each day a purpose and a click. As if I had to justify my existence. Part of the this is just a job hazard. Being a freelancer, when there is work you are busy working, when there’s not, you’re doing what you can to get more work.
But when I take the long view, as a quasi-empty nester who can now pursue a full-time job because other obligations have ceased… I’m not sure I’m always got the right balance. Part of my problem is that I have a bunch of part-time careers that sometimes careen out of control and step on each other. That’s a calendar problem, and I’m working to address it… to literally, block off days for vacation, and time away from the desk, and yes, from social media.
But then there’s the sexy pull of the good work that I am doing. Sometimes I’m really working in the zone… and all other things fall away. I lose track of time. From a work standpoint that’s a good thing… it usually means I’m fully engaged, loving the work, in the moment and present to it.
The problem comes when I lose my boundaries, or my commitments to others. When I feel I’m too busy to take a break. I over-obsess. I need to walk the little dog that begs me to go out, or to stop in my day to pray at my appointed intervals. The temptation is to give in to the tyranny of the insignificant. Sure work is important, but its is meant for our good, as a way that the Lord provides for us. When work tempts me away from other Gifts God has given me in proper order, I’ve got to stop and reassess. I’ve been doing that a lot lately cuz I’ve been failing. Under the light of Lenten disciplines, I’m seeing my mistakes… and the temptations to cave in to the tyranny keep coming.
I love that I’m convicted by this little poem above… especially when it speaks to me of impatience… that our impatience mars the beauty of the whole. Ugh. Zings me straight to the heart. The last thing I want to do is kill off the beauty of the life God has blessed me with!
The temptation to over work can lead to a kind of insular thinking – that things matter more than priceless intangibles – and the people I love.
Work is not the enemy here. Jesus was a carpenter and a Rabbi. He worked too. He sanctified our work, thanks be to God. But when I elevate work as the god rather than the gift of God – rather than the means to celebrate the Gifts of the people in my life, then I mar the beauty of the whole.
If we steal time to work from other things we are impatient, we fail to see that God, in his time, makes things beautiful and successful, not us.
If we trade work for family time, (the loved ones are obvious losers here)…
or trade away our prayer? (yep, that’s stealing from God in my book),
or stealing from our sleep? (stealing or cheating our health),
It means we’ve already got a problem. Confess it. Hit the re-set. Ask me how I know this.
Here’s what I’m learning… and mind you, I’m not always successful… I’m talking to my priest about this very thing.
Keeping to a schedule is a form of self respect…
Keeping to a schedule is form of respecting others…
Keeping to a schedule is a way of letting go… and have time for God and for recreation.
“There’s a time for every matter under heaven”, says the book of Ecclesiastes. Yes, it says that. And a whole lot more.
Will I make time to read it — and live it? Go ahead. I hope you read it. (Even now I can feel the temptation to just skip over it. But if I want to love God better, I want to feel the splinters of conviction.)
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
What gain has the worker from his toil?
I have seen the business that God has given to the sons of men to be busy with.
He has made everything beautiful in its time;
also he has put eternity into man’s mind,
yet so that he cannot find out what God has done from the beginning to the end.
I know that there is nothing better for them than to be happy and enjoy themselves as long as they live;
also that it is God’s gift to man that every one should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil.
I know that whatever God does endures for ever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it;
God has made it so, in order that men should fear before him.
-Ecclesiastes 3: 1-14-
If I fear taking a break from work, then I need to trust God more. I need to trust him to fill what I fear will happen when I don’t keep pace.
I need to make the Lord of All Time, Lord of my time.
To give my restlessness a resting place.