A couple of weeks ago, I was chatting with one of you and you were telling me that you were completely stressed out.
“What’s going on?” I asked, getting into full-on empathetic-pastor mode.
“April,” was all you said.
And that said it all.
Since that conversation the weather has improved, lifting our spirits with the rising temperatures, but the work remains. Deadlines loom. Projects need completion. Meetings need to be scheduled into calendars that are rapidly filled to capacity and the stress seems to increase.
“I just need to make it to next Friday then I’ll be fine.”
We manage ourselves through the tight schedules, breaking things down into short term goals, juggling competing claims on our limited time, trying to do those things which are most necessary for our success.
“I ask myself, ‘What needs to be done today?’ and I focus on that, otherwise, it’s overwhelming.”
Perhaps we like to imagine that we will somehow be able to accomplish it all and then we’ll be done, that we’ll find our joy in the rest that comes to those who have done good work well.
The joy of accomplishment is real and worth savoring.
The dirty little secret, however, is, that those who get all of their work done get more work.
For the creative, the productive, the successful, there’s never an end to the opportunities, to the needs, to the demands – even if they are willingly engaged. This side of eternity, there will always be something that needs tending. So the deadlines lay out ahead of us like the white dashed lines on the highway, one after another. It’s easy for us who derive satisfaction from our accomplishments to begin to imagine that our worth is made by meeting the deadlines.
We are much more than our deadlines and the work which must be done to meet them. We are beloved creations of God, called into loving relationship with God and creation and empowered to work in that creation for the sake of the service it provides in the moment of the service, before the deadline, while we’re in the midst of the project. We are blessed to remember this and find in those moments before our work is done, things for which we can be thankful.
At some point today, I encouraged you to take 30 seconds to note three things for which you’re thankful. Three things = a short list. Write this list in the margin of your planner or put them on a post-it or in an email that you send to yourself. We needn’t be thankful about everything, but in every circumstance, there are things for which we can be thankful.
Thankfulness leads to joyfulness, even in April.
April 25, 2018
Rev. James A. Wetzstein and Rev. Dr. Charlene M. Rachuy Cox serve as university pastors at Valpo and take turns writing weekly reflections.