Last night’s service provided us with the opportunity to find rest in the midst of everything. During the last few weeks of the semester, when the work seems never-ending and we seem to be running a mile a minute, we took the time to play. This time we set aside has importance of it’s own. How will playing with Play-Doh help us get an A in our toughest class? How will building a tower with Legos help us reach our desired career? How could taking time for ourselves help us check off our to-do list while receiving every gold star possible? Maybe it won’t. Maybe it will.
That is not the best answer, but its honest. If we work on improving ourselves and our well-being that might positively affect other aspects of our lives. The idea that God desires us to take delight and joy in the things of this world seems well and fine, but it is so hard to live out. Taking time for ourselves and our happiness is a low priority when there are papers to write, meetings to get to, and lists to memorize. Society tells us to work hard, work harder, and then push yourself until you work your hardest. Society tells us that the longer we work the more dedicated and passionate we are. Society tells us that we have to earn our right to have time for ourselves, it is not free. Work hard, play hard.
From the time we are little to the time we are retired we are asked a certain set of questions. What do you want to be when you grow up? What are you studying? What is your career? What did you do for a living? We ask these questions as we introduce ourselves and get to know one another. While these are certainly aspects that are a central part of our lives, sometimes we forget to account for everything else that makes up a person. Who are you really? What makes you the happiest?
In the first creation story (Genesis 1:27-3) we find that God took delight in all that he had created. In fact, “God saw everything he had made: it was supremely good”. Supremely good. God is a creator, an artist, and being made in God’s image we possess these things too. We were made to play and find joy in everything around us, yet we still manage to tell ourselves that we have to earn this right to find joy. If we look at the creation story again we see that from the very beginning he said it was supremely good, nothing had to be done before it was supremely good. We don’t have to do anything or please anyone to deserve joy and happiness.
For me specifically, this is a struggle. Some college students fit in naps and episodes of TV shows, they make plans to see friends, and on the weekends that take time to recharge. Of course, some students tip the scale and sacrifice responsibility for play more than they should. In this stage of life specifically, it is hard to find balance in work and play. This lack of balance is also present in other ways as well. I find it difficult to include this time of play in my weekly schedule. When I have a break or a large section of time I think about my check-list, I think about what I can accomplish so that I am ahead, working hard, and being the best. Not my best, but the best. This is where I’ve found my mistake.
We need to strive to be our best selves and to work hard, but being the best over everyone else is unrealistic and tiring. This view of work and achievement makes life a competition, task to task, moment to moment, it’s a competition. Sometimes, when no one seems to be directly competing with me, I begin to compete with myself. The competition is not the healthy kind and I begin to live in lifestyle that is backbreaking every single day. I lose sight of the beauty of this world and what true happiness is in life. My happiness becomes finishing tasks and goals and it is quite the let down to just be handed another task.
I find guilt in taking time for myself. There will always be one more thing to accomplish or to get done. In some ways, I feel the need to please others and prove myself. If I don’t get the best grades, have leadership roles in all of my organizations, and work 20 hours a week then people will see me as weak or incapable. If I don’t show people I’m worth it, will I be?
The answer is yes. Heck yes. I am still wrapping my mind around the idea, but you don’t have to act a certain way, do a certain thing, or say yes to everything to be worth it. You were worth it from the very beginning. You are supremely good. Our God is supremely good and we were made in his very image. How is such grace possible?
What makes you happy? Who makes you happy? What energizes you? Be with them and do these things often.