One surefire way to know whether or not you are on the wrong track is to watch your children. When my daughter began praying each morning at breakfast, “Dear Lord, please help us to finish school early, so we can have some fun today” (OUCH!)…I knew I was doing something wrong.
At first blush, I could have decided I was a terrible homeschool teacher. I have a tendency to doubt myself in most things, but surprisingly, I didn’t go there. Because, while I am no “Teacher of the Year”, my children absolutely love reading, composition, science, geography, history, and math. They love, love, love school. And almost once a week they will remark about how glad they are that we homeschool. Every student is different and every year is different, but at this time, homeschooling is the perfect fit for my two. So we are blessed.
No, I knew right away what the problem was: my girl had heard me pray that way too. I saw this, but I didn’t mention anything to her. I had to think on it some more. Then one day, she had a bit of a personal meltdown because math took longer than usual. She saw herself falling behind on her time goals, so she began to fall apart. Oh dear…this I have modeled for her as well.
The things that came out of my mouth were just what a parent should say to a child. They came out without any thought or effort on my part. That’s when I knew I was preaching to myself. Or rather, my Heavenly Parent was talking to me:
Honey, almost all of life is work.
If you despise your work, and love your play, you will always be miserable.
God gives us good gifts.
Work is a good gift.
If we can be grateful for that gift, our work can bring us joy.
I told her this too: When people ask me what I “do”, I used to make the mistake of saying, “I don’t work.” But that isn’t true. The truth is that I work, almost constantly, from the moment I wake until I go to bed. Sometimes I eat standing up. Sometimes I don’t have significant “free time” for a few days in a row or maybe a week. If I always wait till I am done with all my work to have fun…I will never, ever have any fun.
Well, you could have knocked me over with a feather. Almost all of life is work. I knew the truth when it crossed my lips. Because Jesus came that we might have life more abundantly…and this means experiencing His abundant life in our work too!
- Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval (John 6:27, NIV)
- Let all that you do be done in love (1 Cor 16:14).
- That everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil this is God’s gift to man (Ecc 3:13).
My daughter had picked up on my “all work, no play” approach to my “job” and she was starting down that path at a much earlier age than I did. I am a homeschool teacher, writer, housekeeper, cook, chauffeur, nurse, and acting CFO at our home. But all of my work is done in a place that I love with people that I love.
How could I take such a wonderful work environment and job description and make it into something so grim, so grievous?
Carey Bailey helped me to realize, through Life Coaching, that I was viewing my life with the wrong lens. I saw never-ending tasks, while I valued relationships and artistic expression. She showed me that relationships are at the heart of my day and artistic expression is possible in many of my tasks…in homeschooling, writing, cooking, even in keeping order in my home so that it can reflect beauty.
The same task can be either dreaded or treasured. And it is the same if you work outside the home: your workday can be full of opportunities for joy, or for defeat. So much of our attitude depends on our expectations and our perception of our experiences.
This week, look at your work and see how you can “Add JOY” to it. I like to call my mom while I dust, cook dinner with my daughter, and enjoy the beauty of an empty sink when the dishes are done. How about you? Do you work outside the home? How can you “Add JOY” to your work?