“What are you doing for the holiday weekend? Oh, I haven’t really thought about it. I don’t know, I’m sure I will come up with something. Well, we are going out of town-will be back on Tuesday.” This is a conversation that I had with a friend who always manages to take mini trips. I thought about doing something for at least a minute, and then quickly put it out of my mind. However, as the day progressed, I realized that I really wanted to do something for the 3-day weekend. After some deep contemplation, I decided to plan a last minute after church luncheon. Several calls were made to friends who readily accepted my invite. I notified my husband that we would have company after church, and much to my surprise, he relayed that my idea was great.
On the big day, my friends arrived at staggered times. Much to my surprise, I was able to relax while the food was in the oven. As I smelled the aromas, I felt a warmth inside from the anticipation of dinner with friends. With the combination of food, great conversation, and a lot of laughter we had a memorable occasion. I begin to reminisce about the era of the 70’s when my house was filled with friends on a weekly basis. Yes, times were hard, but those were happier times. What happened? How had my life evolved to the point that my job consumed my life?
I became aware of an unbalanced work ethic in 2014. One of my younger co-workers asked me why I was always stressed. I responded that our job was very stressful, always meeting deadlines, and hearing constant complaints from our clients, it added up to stress. I was proud of my answer to this young millennial who had a carefree attitude. Her response gave me a reality check. I was told to think about the damage that I was causing to my mental and physical health. As I listened to her summation of the differences between the two generations, most of her explanation made sense. “Enjoy your job.” What did enjoyment have to do with my work ethic? I was not there to have fun. After all, my work performance was a serious issue.
As I reflect on our conversation, 2017 has enabled me to have a new meaning on a balanced work life. I deserve to have fun. Enjoyment of my career choice has enabled me to seek out different paths where I can utilize my skills, and still have a healthy attitude. My talents and hobbies are developing in a manner that I never expected. For years, I carried the burden of a tiresome work ethic, which left little time for enjoyment. My standards for work still include giving my best. However, I have made the decision to incorporate the friends and activities that add to my happiness. I have embraced part of the Millennial’s mindset, and I can say with a smile, I finally have my work ethic under control.
For many years, I worked as a nurse in the field of Home Health. One of the mandated requirements for the agency was an up-to-date Emergency Preparedness Plan, for the patients who were confined to their homes. All personnel-clinical and nonclinical-had the responsibility of knowing the action plan if a disaster occurred. At the time of admission, patients were educated and informed of the necessary requirements of planned evacuation in order to receive healthcare services. Many individuals balked at the thought of leaving their homes. Although resistance was high, the patient eventually assisted the nursing staff in developing a personalized action plan for safety.
Developing a plan for unforeseen incidents such as natural disasters, and death can be very overwhelming. Many emotions present when an individual is forced to pre-plan for unpleasant circumstances. Some will choose to ignore the pending situation in disbelief or they will convince themselves that preparation can be easily accomplished if something happens. The recent disaster from Hurricane Harvey has given many of us a harsh reality check. The choice to be prepared or to face negative outcomes is the reality of unexpected life events. It is unrealistic to think that we can pre-plan every aspect of our lives; however, we should pay attention to the warnings of impending danger.
Being ready also applies to our spiritual status with God. Matthew 24:44 (NIV) tells us, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Every new day provides us with additional grace and mercies. Following God’s spiritual preparedness plan affords us the opportunity to have eternal life if we choose. I have a certain fondness for flowers. Many times, I will contemplate on their phenomenal beauty, and thank God, as I wonder what is in store for my future life in heaven. I encourage each of us to plan for the greatest life event-the Second Coming of Christ. Unlike life’s disasters or unforeseen events, we do not have to develop our spiritual preparedness plan. God has provided a fail proof spiritual preparedness plan for all who believe and obey. It is up to us to choose to accept his action plan for our lives.
The question-HOW CAN I HELP?-translates into WHAT CAN I DO TO ALLEVIATE YOUR SUFFERING OR YOUR BURDEN?
Maya Angelou stated, “You can’t go through life wearing catcher’s mitts on both hands, you have to throwback also.”
But, am I really prepared for the endless variety of answers that I will receive if I ask others, “How can I help?”
What qualities are required to serve others?
1. Sacrificial giving encompasses one’s time, talent, and financial resources.
2. Sacrificial giving requires a definitive mindset of selflessness, humility, and the ability to set boundaries.
3. Sacrificial giving stipulates that the receiver has no obligation to the giver.
4. Sacrificial giving requires a Vow of Silence. Whatever you are doing is between you, the person, and God.
So what are the benefits of sacrificial giving? Our character becomes more like Christ.
1. Sacrificial giving melts away a cold, stony heart, and in its place, genuine love grows.
2. Sacrificial giving destroys selfishness and enables the fruit of the spirit to flourish.
3. Sacrificial giving provides you with incomparable joy, that you can only receive when you care about the welfare of others.
Finally, Sacrificial Giving brings restoration through the healing of our depression, fears, and anxieties, because it increases our faith in God and in humanity.
If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion-how can God’s love be in that person? 1 John 3:17
Wikipedia’s definition of this phenomenon:
Work–life balance is a concept including proper prioritizing between “work” (career and ambition) and “lifestyle” (health, pleasure, leisure, family and spiritual development/meditation).
I recently interviewed for a job in which one of the benefits of the position is that it offered a work-life balance. I listened carefully, and took mental notes of questions that I would ask later. “Do you have any questions?” I replied in the affirmative and proceeded to present a couple of scenarios to clarify my understanding of the position. I inquired as to what my prospective caseload would be; and, how would my work hours be impacted if I received a referral 5 minutes prior to the end of my day. At this point, the interviewer began to filibuster. I received vague answers that did not add up with my prior knowledge of case management. However, when I was told that I was the top candidate for the position, I chose to ignore the ambiguous answers, and expressed an interest in moving forward.
Following the interview, my mind remained in turmoil. I decided that it was time to ask for Divine intervention, and I proceeded to pray. I asked God to protect me from accepting a job that would end with a negative outcome. This is when the circumstances begin to change. When I checked my email the next morning, the administrative assistant for the company had inadvertently sent me an interview confirmation for another candidate. Later that evening, I received another company email that apologized for the inconvenience; however, my application could not be found in their system, and that I could not be scheduled for the third and final interview. The deadline to complete the new application was dated the day before. I reread the email in disbelief. I began to question the gross errors: How could this possibly happen? What type of company makes mistakes like this?
Within minutes, I remembered my prayer for protection. It was not how I expected God to answer my prayer. Nevertheless, I knew that it was God’s answer and will for my life. I am still searching for employment. However, my priority in this concept of work-life balance is spiritual growth. In faith, I have decided to place my life in God’s hands. With His guidance, I am confident that my work-life balance will be perfect.
But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. 2Thessalonians 3:3
Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Matthew 6:19 NLT
The Mid–Stage of my life arrived much faster than I anticipated. Much to my surprise, when I received my pre-retirement Social Security benefit statement, it informed me that I have worked since the age of 13. However, the math and the retirement funds that I would receive did not coincide. In three years, I would be entitled to a gratuitous 75% percent of my calculated monthly payoff. However, if I would only wait until the ripe age of 66, then I would receive 100% of my benefits. I continued to look in disbelief; based on my calculations, I should have an increase of at least 50%. My plan to relax on a Caribbean beach for at least six months a year was not going to happen.
So, before you think, “oh well, she didn’t manage her finances correctly.” I want to clarify that I did not splurge. In fact, I paid for necessities-food, housing, car note, auto insurance, clothing, etc. As a single woman until 51, I had budgeted quite well-which enabled me to take a few enjoyable vacations, and give 15% charitable contributions in the form of tithe and offerings. My financial plan began to unravel three years ago, when my health took a substantial turn. As a healthcare professional providing care to patients, I worked in a fast-paced environment that required standing, and running around most of the 8-12 hour shift. I begin to notice the joint pain in both of my knees, which required frequent sit breaks. I remained in denial regarding my condition and did not seek medical intervention. It was only during a trip to Upstate NY where my left knee hyperextended and I returned home with an immobilizer and crutches. Subsequent follow-ups with my PCP and three orthopedic surgeons revealed a diagnosis of Bilateral End-Stage Osteoarthritis with recommendations for knee replacements.
I have recently performed a list of my assets according to biblical standards, and I am in good standing. God has supplied all of my needs, and I am doing fairly well with the desirable wants. Now I have to restructure and refocus my mindset. I do not need to “shop” for unneeded items. In fact, I am in the process of collecting clothing and other items (for donation) that I will never use again. Did it require a decline in my health status for me to start counting my blessings and stop spending the resources that God has provided for me? I will continue to ponder on that question. Who knows with the money I am no longer spending, my dream for time on that Caribbean beach may be within reach.
Is it possible to live without anxiety, worry or fear?
- According to the Texas UT Counseling and Mental Health Center, “Anxiety is hardwired into our brains…It is a normal response to uncertainty, trouble, or feeling unprepared.”
- According to the Bible, 1 Peter 5:7 NLT states, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
- “There is probably is a biological component to chronic worry, but there is also an early environment component,” agrees Sandy Taub, PsyD, a psychoanalyst in private practice in Wilmington, Delaware.
- In Matthew 11:28 NLT, Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.
- Simple definition: To be afraid of actual/perceived danger or threat; extended to pursuing dreams, progressing in one’s career, or facing new or unfamiliar situations.
- There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has torment, and he that fears has not been made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 Darby
As I researched my question of living without anxiety, worry or fear; I was confronted with an overabundance of rationalizations, and reasons why a peaceful state of mind is not possible. The explanation that stood out blatantly was the fact that I was raised by an overprotective mother. While that may sound reasonable to many, I doubt that my upbringing has caused many sleepless nights due to a worrisome state of mind. My condition only worsened as I matured to middle age. Any change in my normal daily pattern caused an increased level of discomfort as I attempted to deescalate my level of stress-due to anxiety and worry.
When my contractual period of employment ended, I can remember sitting on the side of my bed, balancing my bank account. As much as I claimed to believe in God, I breathed out a short prayer telling God that I didn’t know what to do, now that I was not working. In less than a minute, I received a Daily Devotional notification on my cell phone that stated, “Make your day better. Read Matthew 6: 25-34.” Since this is one of my favorite Bible texts, I was already aware of what Christ instructed us not to do-Do Not Worry. I could not control the tears that flowed as I read the promises for my life. All I had to do was to believe.
During my season of unemployment, I have come to realize the reason that I had lived with insomnia for years was due to relationship issues. I did not believe that God would really stand by his Word; so, I failed to pray and study diligently. The result of self-reliance was brokenness and its byproducts-anxiety, worry, and fear. When I relied on my achievements, the faith and trust that God deserved were displaced. In spite of my disbelief, God reminded me of the importance of strengthening my relationship with Him. My prayer life is improving; I am sleeping much better; and I can achieve a peaceful state of mind-free of all anxiety, worry, and fear. Only believe.
Do Not Worry- Matthew 6: 25-34 NIV
25“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
At the conclusion of my physician’s visit, I was given a diagnosis of Chronic Fatigue. My Dr. stated, “I recommend that you take off 24 hours-one day per week in which you stop thinking about all of your concerns and worries. In fact, eliminate housework, paying bills, running errands, and stay away from your computer, tablet, and cell phone (if possible). I would also like for you to read wholesome and uplifting books that leave you with a smile on your face.” I left the office thinking that I did not know how that would be possible. I was hoping for a prescription that I could take to my local pharmacy that would cure my fatigue.
I started to research the internet on how to take a 24-hour rest day once a week. Most of the articles were geared toward a person who exercised daily. I certainly didn’t have that problem. The only alternate article spoke about the importance of rest from a psychological perspective regarding innate qualities. I thought about the impossible task that my physician recommended, and concluded that I was really stressed out. I never expected to feel worse following my medical visit. I breathed a prayer for God to help me with the task ahead.
Out of nowhere, I begin to reflect on a group of patients that I cared for in New Jersey while doing Community Nursing. I can remember calling on a Friday evening to give critical lab values, and the change in medication that the physician had ordered. I left two messages without a response. On Sunday morning, I received a call back from the patient’s wife who explained that they kept the Sabbath, and did not accept or make phone calls. During the next visit, she gave further explanation that God had given us a 24-hour rest day from Friday sunset to Saturday sunset. I have been keeping the Sabbath faithfully for eleven years, and have never suffered chronic fatigue again. I am very thankful that I believe in a God who loves me enough that he gave me a guaranteed weekly rest day.