Thursday, October 28, 2010

value of work & rest...

Recently I (Amy) have had many conversations with several different people along the topics of the value of work and the value of rest. It’s inspired me to write out a few of my thoughts as I’ve found myself in a stage of life struggling with that each day. I think most of us are pretty screwed up in one way or another on the topic: Some of us work too much and can’t stop. Some of us need to rest. (“rest” meaning literal sleep as well as a refrain from work to do things that are an enjoyment of the creation we’ve been given!) Some of us seem to rest a little too much and need to get to work. Some of us need to see our work as valuable. Some of us need to see our rest as valuable and significant. And my guess is that almost all of us struggle with finding value in both of them: value in our work (whatever it is) and value in our times of rest.

Which do you tend to value more? Work or rest? My tendency has always been to justify myself by what I DO—what I can accomplish, what I can earn. I THRIVE with a to-do list. Just watch me check things off of my list! And P.C. (pre-Caroline), I could actually pull that off… even quite brilliantly at times. In school, I was the straight A student. Always. Boy could I multi-task! (sometimes I wonder: at what point did my brain go to mush?) After my school years were over, there were other things to DO that I deemed as valuable to make me feel justified. In just one day P.C., I could clean my entire house, teach several violin lessons, meet with a RUF girl for lunch, cook dinner for myself & my husband, return phone calls and emails with ease, attend symphony rehearsal and still have spare time to do whatever I wanted! It was a glorious life!

But ah, enter motherhood. Leave it to becoming a mom (which has by FAR been the greatest joy of my life!) to show me how very messed up I was/am when it comes to seeing all work and all rest as valuable.

Motherhood doesn’t exactly feel like you’re doing something. Most of the time, it feels more like pure survival at this point. Eating. Sleeping. Playing. Pooping. What a STARK transition it was when Caroline was born to go from all the things I was doing P.C. to clearing my entire schedule in order to HOLD, CUDDLE, CHANGE DIAPERS, FEED, SING, and READ BABY BOOKS. And that’s my JOB??? ALL day?? Every day?? That just feels so…. so…. mundane. What else is there I can do?? I mean, that feels so utterly insignificant at times.

Task-driven people like me may get a lot of things done, but I’m starting to see the ugliness of that idol. We just never get “full.” We’re running around so busy accomplishing things, but meanwhile we’re all carrying pain and burdens, ignoring one another in our great quest to succeed. There is always something more to do. We live in frustration that we never “make it.” It’s like we become enslaved to the LIST; IT rules US. And even when everything does actually get finished, it’s a lonely place. (because honestly? who else really cares what you got accomplished? Seriously. I know in my case, it’s a self-consuming endeavor.) I’m learning the hard way that chasing the dream of “catching up” is ultimately empty and unfulfiling. The finish line is lonely. I started understanding this a little more A.C. (after Caroline) :)

Marc and I LOVE do-it-yourself home projects! Those of you who know us well can probably laugh at all the things we’ve gotten ourselves involved in and overwhelmed with--- all the pink bathrooms we’ve eradicated from homes, etc. :) But what we enjoy doing and dream of doing quickly turns into frustration as we now as parents find no TIME to do them. After Caroline, we feel like we can get nothing done anymore. It makes us mad. I mean, I guess we could get things done- we have the option to. But while we’re so busy “accomplishing,” our sweet daughter sits to the side saying, “Mommy, can you play with me? Mommy, will you play with me?” And by gosh- when you hear that out of your toddler’s mouth, there’s only so many times you can stand listening to yourself say, “in just a minute” or “after I get _____ done” that you begin to realize what IS important and what is valuable.

Caroline is teaching me, the task-driven person, The VALUE of PEOPLE, not tasks. The value of LOVING and SERVING SOMEONE ELSE, not simply ACCOMPLISHING and DOING. That it is a much higher calling to sit on the floor and build empires with legos with my daughter than to clean up the dust that’s driving me nuts as it collects all over my house. (I’m not saying that cleaning my house isn’t valuable, either! It is certainly incredibly valuable!) But for me and my sinful tendencies, I have to remind myself that I have “accomplished” just as much in the times when I stop and SIT down , look in my daughter’s eyes, and hear her laugh and say “boing!” every time she touches my nose. Loving my kid is just as valuable (and MUCH more important) than all the vacuuming in the world. In a job that doesn’t give me a letter grade and doesn’t earn me anything (well, except for some really good hugs and kisses!), it’s so easy to lose sight of that.

So wanna know what I “accomplished” yesterday A.C.?

  • I was in my pajamas until 3pm.
  • I didn’t get to eat lunch until 2pm.
  • I didn’t get any of my work for my church music job finished until a few hours before our rehearsal.

Sounds pretty much like a bum, doesn’t it? :) I have to admit, I struggled with the tension of feeling like I'm getting NOTHING done!! I mean, I couldn’t even get a SHOWER!

But you know what I DID do?

I played Chinese checkers. I colored pictures. I taught my daughter how to ride her tricycle and played “red light green light” I-don’t-know-HOW many times to her delight. I gave her a big blanket and tucked it around her in my bed for fun. We read stories and watched “Thomas the Train.” I helped her use the potty. I changed several diapers. I kept a little girl alive. I fed her food that is good for her little body. We cooked a delicious meal together and I watched as she tried her BEST to set the table. (see below)

We built lego “sandwiches” and pretended to eat them together. We talked about Daddy’s job as a pastor and what he does during the day while we are home together. Oh, and I got one room cleaned! (yes! A real accomplishment, right?) :)

The truth is, I got LOTS done. My day was of just as much value if not more value had I been showered, well fed, prepared for my rehearsal, meals cooked, house cleaned, yadda yadda… Now, let me be honest, I didn’t FEEL like that as the day was progressing. But the Lord gave me the grace to invest in a PERSON other than myself this day. When Marc came home and asked me the, “What did you do today?” question, I took a deep breath.

“Well,” I started, “I played legos, and…” I continued recounting all of the day’s seemingly meaningless happenings and waited for his response.

“That sounds like a GREAT day! Sounds like you got A LOT done.”

(Smiling to myself) Yes I did. Yes, I did.

"What is the chief end of man? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."
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  1. What you invest in that little girl means much more than anything you invest in things and a to-do list. One day your investment will pay off with other that hugs and kisses. She will grow up to be a wonderful young woman who values the right "things" also.

    Love y'all.

  2. Once again, another post that I wish had a "like" button. :) You should really write a book in all your spare time. ;)

  3. Amy,
    This post spoke volumes to me this morning. I appreciate your honesty on this subject. I share your task oriented, to do list mentality and have found the transition into motherhood to be quite challenging at times. It was like you were writing a letter to me with this post! Thank you,
    Mary Mills Ritchie

  4. I love Caroline's attempt at setting the table. It's really not all that bad.

  5. I like how Caroline spread open HER napkin, but put your and Marcs just there on the table :) haha.

  6. Insert knife, twist and stab multiple times. I have to preach this to myslef ALL the time!