This weekend, I took a vacation. I went to see my dear friend Nicole and her husband in Southern California. Before I left, I told myself, "Sarah, you must take a break." So I only allowed myself to take two books to read for work/school. Haha.
But I did it! I rested, hiked, went to a baseball game, laid by the pool, walked on the beach, and enjoyed time with people I love. I came back to Albuquerque feeling refreshed and excited. Usually when I return from "vacations," I am grouchy and tired and annoyed. I asked myself this morning what the difference was between this trip and so many before it. The answer I've come to: it was actually a vacation.
Now "vacation" can mean several different things, but this is my favorite official definition of it: the action of leaving something one previously occupied. So in this instance, I physically left Albuquerque in order to occupy Fontana, California for several days. But maybe vacation is about much more than simply where my body is located. Maybe it's also about leaving the occupations of one's mind as well. I left the numerous tasks I could do over the weekend at home in order to be fully present with my friends. When I arrived home on Sunday, the tasks were still here, waiting for me, unspoiled, and my life was not in ruins because they hadn't been done yet. Imagine that! The world doesn't revolve around my productivity!
As I was reading the definitions of vacation to my roommate Bryn, she said something profound when I got to the definition above: "Wow! According to that I could go on vacation every day!" I never would've thought of it that way, but she's right. We can leave things for tomorrow. We can take a break even in our own homes and our own routines. Of course, I'm not championing shirking responsibility or a lack of follow-through, but I also think in our culture - and even (if not especially) in Christian culture - we celebrate the work-a-holic pace as successful and valuable. Efficiency and productivity is great...but at what cost?
Galatians 5:25 states, "If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit." This statement directly follows the list of the fruits - so through love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, we may keep in step with the Spirit. I have found the faster the pace of my life, the busier I am, and the less in step I am with the Spirit. Now maybe this only holds true for me which is fine. But let me tell you what I mean and what it has to do with the fruits of the Spirit. The more I try to cram into my life - under the guise of increased output and productivity - the less patience I have, the less joy, the less peace, the less kindness, etc. I get snappy and grouchy and annoyed and tired. Ask my roommates.
When I take a step back and complete the tasks that God sets before me while saying "no" (*gasp*) to a couple of well-intentioned projects that I really only would've completed to make myself look good...well, I find myself living more - even if only a bit more - in step with the Spirit. I've stepped out of a place I previously occupied in favor of a vacation, however brief, however small.
The fruits are all about balance - balancing out our selves in favor of the Spirit. And there's not just one fruit - there are nine. So what if our cultivation of these fruits, our walking in step with the Spirit, taught us about balance not only in character but also in lifestyle? What if we allowed ourselves to refresh and relax every so often, taking a break with the Lord to rebalance and ultimately allowing Him to direct the labor of our lives? My sneaking suspicion is that we would be more efficient and more productive. Why? Because one time Jesus took 5 loaves and 2 fish and fed a multitude, and if that's not efficient (and miraculous!), I don't know what is.
So I'm going to try it. You can try it with me if you'd like. Or just tune in to see how it goes - we'll be here!
Happy Tuesday, friends!