Long weekends are hard for me. Vacations are even worse. Regular old weekdays I can handle: I get up at the same time, start my morning routine (with or without kids, depending on the time of year), and leave for work. At work, the first thing I do is start a new day’s entry in my work journal, list out any appointments I have, and identify any tasks that I need to get done that day. Throughout the day, if I get off track or distracted, I can return to that initial entry for the day and reorient myself to what I should be doing.
When I’m off work, though, it can be hard for me to relax. I often have a nagging feeling that I ought to be doing more: writing more, working in the yard more, exercising more, fixing up the house more, playing with my kids more. Instead of a day for rest and restoration, the day becomes filled with guilt and regret.
What’s going on here? What’s behind this sense that every day, even a day of vacation and rest, has to used for maximum productivity? Why is resting so difficult?
The root issue is the false idea that the worth of a day is measured in how much has been accomplished. By extension, the worth of a life is measured in the same way. How much have I gotten done? How many tasks have I checked off my list? How does my list compare to everyone else’s?
But the worth of a life is not measured in this way. A life has inherent worth, even if it seems futile or wasted. The worth of a life – the worth of my life – is based on the truth that a human life is made in the image of God. Each day of my life is worthy, even if nothing gets checked off my list.
I can rest securely from my labors because there is great value in simply being. Doing has its place – many places, in fact – but we have to make space for being. If we don’t, then instead of resting, we will collapse from exhaustion. Our bodies will force us to rest, whether we want to or not.
On this Labor Day, and on every day of rest, remember in whose image you are made. Remember your inherent worth as a person. Take pride in the good work you have accomplished at the appropriate times. And rest securely in the knowledge that God is with you.
Photo credit: Angelo Amboldi via Flickr