Early this week I spent the day with a wonderful couple who shared with me their joy in their two adult children. What I particularly liked is that they told me things about each of their children without once comparing them to anyone else. They told me about wonderful things their children do, how they are excelling at their professions. But never once was there a comparison.
But what these parents really appreciated was that both their children were doing something they love. As the father said, “when they wake up in the morning and their feet hit the floor they are excited about what they will do.” I’ve thought a lot about that comment all week and it has been stirring around in my mind. I think this is what I also wish for my daughter Lucy. I want her to find something she really loves to do. I don’t care if she makes a lot of money, if she gets to be the best at her profession, I just want her to love it.
I remember confessing my guilt over how many hours I work to a young mother in one of my previous churches. She was rejoicing in her opportunity to stay home with her children. I told her Kim feels the same way. I never wanted to stay home with Lucy all day, I always wanted to work. I don’t consider myself a workaholic. To me workaholics are people who just can’t stop working, no matter what. If I did something besides ministry or outreach work I don’t know how hard I would work. For instance I am a homeowner, I do nothing around my house, except keep it tidy and organized. When this young mother heard me she said something I have never forgotten. She said, “I think your daughter will benefit a great deal from watching her father wake up every day happy to do something he loves.” Her point was that rather than watch her father force himself to get through the day or never see someone exhibiting good work habits she was watching me and absorbing these lessons.
Today I worked all morning and afternoon. On what is usually my day off I spent the later afternoon hiking with my family and dog and the evening going to a movie with my daughter. I really enjoyed this. As much as I love my job I realize on evenings like this what I am giving up when I work most of the day, most every day.
In my last two job interviews both search committees looked at all the jobs and all the volunteering I do and questioned if I would be there for them, at my full-time job. I knew they had no idea what they were asking. I spend most of every day thinking, praying, planning, calling, list making, connecting, about my church. It is my first thought when my feet his the floor at 6 am and the topic of my last email between 1 and 2 am. I love my work.
But I love my family too and there is a cost to how I work and in the summer I become more aware of that cost. I am fortunate to have the best mother in the world to look after my daughter. But I know there are responsibilities and opportunities and moments of a lifetime that I am missing out on.
Work gives my life meaning. But it also crowds out the other meaningful part of my existence. And there it is.