Have you ever been in a place where you know you need to take time off work, but you just can’t bring yourself to, because you know that they need you to be there? Or you have a vacation day scheduled already, but you feel guilty about taking the time off? We’ve all been there at one time or another. And on this blustery Thursday in May, that’s the place where I find myself.
As I write this, I’m sitting in the sanctuary of Family Christian Center, listening to some jazz music from Andrew Allen, and taking some down time before the Secret Keeper Girl event here later this evening (which I took a planned vacation day for so I could help out). And trying to keep myself busy so I don’t focus on the tasks that I could be doing if I hadn’t taken the day off from work.
Anyone who has ever worked with me, be it in a volunteer situation, at work, or even just family and friends, will tell you that I am a perfectionist. Which, to some extent, is a good thing. The drive to perfection is often what keeps me going, and allows me to achieve the success that I have. However, it also causes me to constantly criticize my work (and others), feel guilty at taking any personal time away (even when I very much need it), and suffer from stress-induced headaches. All of which are problems, and are not what God created me to do and be.
Yesterday I had a lengthy chat with a good friend of mine from church on this very subject. As he is also a perfectionist, he has been in my situation, and can (and does) give superb advice when it comes to dealing with workplace stress. He immediately brought to my attention the fact that the issues I am having (which, last night, had me worked up to such an extent that I couldn’t focus properly on leading my team in the sound booth) are 90% self-induced. And that, even if taking a day off may mean more work later, that I need that time off to rejuvenate, so that I will be more effective when I return. Which is true, although it’s not easy to admit that I’m wrong. But that’s another topic.
Then, today during lunch with the SKG team, we were invited to join them in their devotions. The team devotion today was talking about gratitude, and something the leader said really caught me off guard. If you are not actively thinking about what you are grateful for, or are not thinking to thank God for things on a daily basis, you are living in a state of ungratefulness. Now, I thought I knew what ungratefulness looked like. We’ve all seen kids who are ungrateful, people who you do something nice for and they completely miss the point. But I never considered that not directly being grateful was being ungrateful. Oops.
At the end of the devotion, the leader asked us to thank God for something. And you know what? I had a very hard time thinking of anything to be thankful for! This coming from a young American, with a nice job, a loving family, wonderful and supportive friends, untold opportunities that many people wish they had, and a loving Father in Heaven who loves me, and sent His only Son to die for me. And I couldn’t think of anything to be thankful for!
I immediately put a few different things together at that point. For one, I am so wrapped up in the day to day stuff I’m working on that I have been completely missing the big picture. Secondly, I need to take a step back, and learn gratitude. Or rather, I need to re-learn how to show gratitude, to those around me, and to God. And third, as my friend pointed out, I need to learn how to let things go and relax. When I’m not at work, I shouldn’t still be focused on what I could or should be doing. It will be there for me when I get back. For today, I need to enjoy and be thankful for where I’m at, the people I get the honor of working with today, and my vacation day in general.