In 2013, I tried journaling. I set out to spend part of my quiet time with God writing and reflecting on what He had revealed to me and what I was praying about or struggling with on that particular day. I wasn’t very good about it, but in 2014, I have begun my quiet time each day (or each day that I make it a priority), by re-reading whatever I wrote on the same date last year. On the days that I look back and nothing was written, it convicts me to do it more faithfully. On the days that I did write, I’m impressed by the way God has used the revelations to move in my life.
On some mornings — like this morning — I am smacked in the face by what I read. Last year, on this date, I wrote:
I need to stop deriving my value and sense of worth from work. I need to stop putting work above my family and home priorities. My worth is from God, not my works or deeds, so work should NEVER take priority over my ministry, which includes my service to God, my church, & my family.
Ironically, I do not even remember writing that.
That should give you some indication as to the effort I’ve put into following through on the commitment. For years, I’ve valued hard work, in myself and in those around me. I have considered laziness one of the most egregious of shortcomings. I have calculated my own worth as an individual by my productivity on the job, and I have measured others similarly.
There is nothing wrong with working hard and I will always value a strong work ethic in myself and others. Where I have gone wrong is that I have placed a higher worth on my performance on the job than on my service to God, my family, and my church. When things were going well on the job — clients were happy, projects were progressing, budgets were being met — I felt good.
Nevermind if the family was eating leftover hamburger helper that wasn’t even great the first night. Didn’t matter if the laundry was stacking up. Didn’t matter if I hadn’t cracked the Bible for several days (or weeks). It didn’t matter if I was throwing together my devotion for jail ministry in the 30 minutes before I left. It didn’t matter if I was too tired at night to help my daughter with her homework or share meaningful time with my husband. It didn’t matter if I fell asleep before praying to God and thanking Him for the day.
But a year ago, I told God that I wanted to stop that behavior and apparently, He thought I was serious. I may have forgotten I wrote it, but He didn’t and He held me to it. This month, for the first time since I graduated high school, I am unemployed. It would be normal to worry about things like the loss of income, finding another job for which I was qualified and would enjoy — and I did worry about those things.
But more than worry, a different feeling swept over me — WORTHLESSNESS.
That from which I had derived my worth was gone. The laundry was still there. There was still dinner to prepare. There was still housework to be done. My Bible still sat on the bedside table. My jail ministry was still there. My wonderful husband was still beside me. My beautiful daughter still had plenty of need for a mother.
And I didn’t know what to do with myself.
I kept quite busy by putting together my resume to actually search for a job for the first time in 20 years. I created an online resume to I could shamelessly market myself and my talents to the world. The most important thing to me was to find another job. I realize now there is something far more important — to learn the lesson I wanted to learn in the first place.
Thank you, God, for not letting me get away with signing up for a class and then playing hooky. Thank you for reminding me why I signed up for the class in the first place.
Now, please, help me pass the final.