Work, Rest, Work

“You don’t gotta go to work, work, work, work
Work, work, work, work
But you gotta put in work, work, work, work

Work, work, work, work
You don’t gotta go to work, work, work, work
Work, work, work, work
Let my body do the work, work, work, work
Work, work, work, work, work

We can work from home! (oh, oh, oh-oh)
We can work from home! (oh, oh, oh-oh)”

These lyrics are from Chainsmoker’s hit song “Closer to home.” Obviously, work is a euphemism for sex in this song. Take a break from this mad culture, the singer coaxes, and enjoy time with me.

 

If I had a song that guided most of college years, it would be:

“you’re gonna work, work, work.
Anda everything gonna fall in your lap
you’re gonna work, work, work.
Anda everything gonna be fine
a shiny diploma and better life
you’re  gonna learn the maths and drill the psets
you’re going to work, work, work,
there’s only one beautiful place
there’s only one chance
you’re gonna work, work, work oooh”

 

Now I can’t imagine just working all day, always getting to next moment, always trying to earn the next affirmation, some mere validity that you’re all right.

It is just no fun. It seeps your optimism away, until you are starry eyed and the torn pages of your notebook becomes your diet, “busy” becomes a word you throw out to convince yourself that you’re worth something.

It might cause you to get into the “so it goes”-syndrome.

 

If you have not read Kurt Vonnegut’s novel Slaughterhouse Five, you should read it (in your copious free time). It’s about a Vietnam veteran named Billy Pilgrim, and the novel uses a stream of consciousness structure. The lack of plot works wonderfully to bring you inside Billy’s fragmented, PTSD mind. But what I remember the most from the eccentric novel are those three words: “So it goes.”

Never have those three words packed so much emotion in such a disinterested way.

 

I have been in a rut of work-culture infected cynicism, where an annoying cuckoo keeps chirping in my head, “So it goes, so it goes, so it goes.”

Entered college. So it goes. Made friends. So it goes. Relationships drift. So it goes. Finished my major. So it goes. Applied to jobs, got rejected from jobs. So it goes.

“So it goes!” the cuckoo victoriously smirks, “life ebbs and flows, nothing is ever constant, just accept it, you slowpoke, and move on.”

 

There is one thing that rips through the “work, work, work” and “so it goes” message.

And that is Jesus.

Before becoming a Christian, I didn’t know what it meant to rest. Among other things, I didn’t know what it meant to have a quiet time or to stop to hear my own thoughts. My dad’s answer: why pray when you can work?

I wish I can tell him, it’s not so simple. To use an economics analogy, there is not a simple linear relationship between work and success, or happiness, or whatever. You can’t just increase the work quantity and hope for an increase in success. At some point, there is a maximum, and it begins sloping down.

And that’s where we stare at our human finitude. Literally, God does not allow the line to go on forever. (That is why the real world is not pure math).

 

 

 “Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday today and forever” (Hebrews 8:30).

That means I can rest. I can stop working and write down my thoughts about work on a damp April afternoon, and conclude that work is not everything.

It means that instead of getting stuck in what I have not accomplished, I can be thankful for my finitude. There is one that is greater, all-good, and infinite.

Our little minds can hardly fathom His good plans.

There is no need to become cynical. We can work, we can rest, and we can trust in the Lord.

 

If life is an ocean, we’re getting all getting rocked by the waves.

But He has already crafted a steady boat that will guide us through the storms. Then, the adage is not “so it goes, but “so another moment, to go, live and learn, and to thank God.”

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