By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Gen 2:2
Whether it’s my personality, the society in which I’ve been raised (or more likely, a combination of the two), I am always on the go. I have my full-time job as an editor, I volunteer as a youth leader at my church, I currently am in the middle of a couple extra free-lance editing jobs, and there is of course my own writing to keep up with. Fortunately I’m single, so I don’t have to add duties as a wife and mother to the list.
Before anyone gets the wrong impression, I enjoy the work I do as well as the extra-curricular activities I’m involved in. Frankly, I’d go insane if I weren’t keeping busy. Unfortunately, there are times I get so caught up in all the items on my to-do list that I forget the value of rest. Yet it’s obviously vital, because God doesn’t just talk about resting, he shows us its importance from the beginning.
God is God. He is never tired. Situations never overwhelm Him. And He never needs a vacation to recharge His batteries. In His infinite wisdom, however, He knew we would. He also knew that if left to our devices most of us would pack our schedules so tight we’d forget to step back and enjoy the fruit of our labor.
When I’m working, all I can see is everything that still needs to be done. My desk is covered in a bottomless stack of articles and stories, and my in-box rarely has less than a hundred messages waiting for a response. Before I know it I’m exhausted. Simple mistakes that could easily have been caught and corrected had I been rested come back to haunt me in the form of permanent print. My attitude begins to sour. The work I was previously thankful for risks becoming an obligation. And there is nothing that irritates me more than seeing or hearing other people having fun while I’m chained to my desk.
I’ve also noticed that when I push myself too hard for too long I tend to get sick and my forced vacation is spent on the couch chewing myself out for not taking better care of myself.
About a year ago I made a commitment to take one day a week to slow down a bit. I don’t go into the office or check my e-mail. Very rarely do I write anything other than a couple quick notes lest I forget something important. Most importantly, I refuse to let myself think of the piles waiting for me when I get back to work. I’ve discovered when I keep this promise to myself I’m less tired and cranky, and I usually end up with more to write about when it’s time to sit down at the keyboard again.
By engaging in life I see, I feel, I hear, I smell, and I taste God’s beauty. All those experiences are then filed away for future reference. I build memories, forge stronger relationships with real people, and I can look back over my week to see all that I accomplished, knowing I did my work to the best of my ability.
Perhaps you’re like me and find yourself juggling too many projects at once. Or maybe you’re far wiser and make sure you take time for yourself on a regular basis. How do keep from getting burned out? And how does it affect your outlook on your writing? I’d love to hear from you in the comment section below.