In class the other day we discussed activity pacing – the idea that to live healthy, balanced lives humans need to be able to “pace” their responsibilities, involvements and daily tasks rather than being compulsively overactive and then burning out. In order to continue moving forward through life, the human mind, body and spirit need us to discern when to slow down, when to push through, when to say “While I could keep going, this is good enough.” And not only to recognize these limits, but to act in line with them — choosing to hold back. Pacing ourselves.
For some personalities, the “enough” boundary comes pretty naturally; for others, it really isn’t so easy. Perhaps it’s helpful to view the issue as a continuum (from sloth to slave-driver?), and we could all speculate where we ourselves and others in our lives fall along that line. Probably we each struggle to set limits in some form or fashion, as extremes can pop up anywhere — cleaning the home, exercising in the gym, managing the employees, organizing the schedule, overprotecting the kiddos, volunteering in the community, coordinating the event, perfecting the golf swing. This “activity sprinting,” if you will, can be spurned by a wide variety of motives. Take, for instance, overworking in the office:
Because I am able to achieve more, I should achieve more…And the more I can do and the faster I can do it, the more valuable I become…The more products I produce and the more services I provide, then the better I look and the better the boss looks…And the happier the boss is, the greater the likelihood of him/her keeping me around…Thus, the safer and more secure I feel…Then I can rest in that security…But only if I keep achieving more and going faster. (Thus, as I keep driving toward the extreme, the hope of true security and rest immediately evaporates.)
28 Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28)
Of course, the belief that we can be empowered by the Spirit, a life-giving being that graces and energizes us to do far more than we could ever do on our own strength, adds a whole new layer to the discussion. But for now, without diving into that idea, let us stick with the simple question:
Is “enough” a challenge for you?