b*ponders :: workaholism

Hello! Hope your Easter weekend was full of good things. I got to spend some time with family, ate a really tasty ham (that tasted like bacon) and celebrated the death and resurrection of our Savior. Easter always seems to come and go, but this year felt different to me–even pivotal in some way. The greatness of the Father’s love, the sacrifice of the Son, and the power of the Gospel seemed to settle a little deeper in my heart, and I wonder now if having felt the full weight of it all, can I ever be the same again?

Monday is here, and I’m back to work, pondering those thoughts, but also diving into projects and tasks and emails and to-dos. Work and life, it so often seems, are equal and opposing forces. How is it possible to balance who I am professionally, with who I am personally? How can I be a business owner/designer/blogger/freelancer, and at the same time, be a Christian/wife/daughter/friend, who has a passion for adventure/good food/travel/art/etc? How do I balance it all, without losing some portion entirely?

To complicate the matter, I happen to really love work. I love what I do, I am driven and focused and I can easily throw myself completely into one thing, so that little else remains. I guess you could say that I am hardwired with, predisposed towards, and naturally bent in the direction of workaholism. Yes, my name is Bethany and I am a workaholic–a moniker I’ve worn with pride. Hard work is something that is easy to bury yourself in. Tangible results are produced, and there is a certain sense of accomplishment and fulfillment that comes with a solid day’s work. My problem is that even at the end of the day, when the office door is closed, when I’m eating dinner, hanging out with friends, on weekends, holidays and all throughout May–my mind is still at work. I fall asleep thinking about it, and wake up thinking about it. It has the tendency to consume me. And while I am much, much better at balancing things today than I was a year or even six months ago, I know I still have improvements to be made in this area. Because, let’s be honest, if I were to allow any one thing to consume me–it shouldn’t be work.

Work is necessary, yes. But ultimately fulfilling? No. Not even close. Afterall, everything I do will be entirely forgotten in 100 years. Actually more like 50 or even 20 or maybe more like 10. The tasks that fill my days, the problems that keep me up at night, even the accomplishments or successes of this business I am building won’t mean squat in the end. This fact became almost alarmingly clear to me after hearing this sermon on Ecclesiastes 2:18-23 from our pastor, R.W. Glenn a couple months ago. Think about these verses and tell me that they don’t jar you, even a little.

I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.
-Ecclesiastes 2:18-23

Wow, right? I mean, who hasn’t felt like your labor was all in vain, or wondered what the point of it really was. I know I have. So why do I still let it consume me? Why do I struggle to find the elusive thing called balance (or its cousin, contentment)? Why do my Monday mornings define me more than my Sunday mornings? How is it possible to be passionate about your work, but not overly so? Or really, why should I even bother working, if it’s all going to go away?? As I write this, I am fully aware that I have no answers to these questions. I may be capable of giving you a theoretical and even eloquent response to the problem of workaholism, pointing out the root cause and the proper spiritual and personal course of action. But honestly? In reality, I have no practical solution to present right now, and no neat conclusion to wrap this post up with. I have ideas for ways to improve, and I know that ultimately, I need to surrender this issue over to my Maker. But in this very moment, I am still very much in the “midst” of this struggle, not looking back at it after having won the battle. So how to conclude, other than an honest admission that I am a work in progress?

If any of what I’ve said resonates with you, there are two things I want to leave with you in light of all the above.

First, this verse from Colossians 3:23-24:

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

Secondly, the sermon that I already mentioned. Listen to it. It’s an hour long, but well worth the time. Download it and listen to it in the car, on the train, or bus, or while you’re running or whatever.

All for now friends… be back tomorrow.

  1. fauxmartha says:

    I needed to hear this. It’s amazing/sad how much self-worth I try to find in my work, ultimately perpetuating the need to work more. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. Richelle says:

    This is something I struggle with everyday. Work/Life balance is a constant battle. Especially as a Christian.

    Thank you for sharing the above scripture. It really hit home.

    I visit your blog frequently and I am inspired.

  3. dem says:

    i’ve really been liking and looking forward to your bponders posts. similarly to fauxmartha, this made me think about how much i focus on my work and what i do to give me value. the romans verse puts the focus back on jesus. thank you!

  4. Kim says:

    I really resonate with you.

    I’m a freelance graphic designer.. but also a daughter of God.

    When I do something, I want to excel and do it brilliantly, but I fear that if I work so hard and immerse myself in design, I’m spending less time with God, and making design my idol.

    I think I’ve come to the point where I’m okay with not being the best that I can be.. not because I’m lazy, but because I know myself… If I were to throw myself into design, I’m sure I would go higher and earn more money, but I would have to make it more important than God.

    Some might disagree with my logic.. but this is me, just trying to protect the most important thing in my life.

    Love reading you recent posts..

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