Workaholics Anonymous

Hi. My name is Helena and I’m a workaholic.

I FORGOT. I altogether forgot, which is completely outside of my character and Myers-Briggs. High J’s never forget. We forget nothing. We are remembrance machines. So you can imagine my panic as I realize that I forgot that one of my most precious friends was in Atlanta and I was supposed to host her. Except for the fact that when I set that up with her, I didn’t know I was scheduled for a double shift. Ahem. How bad can it get?!

Holy Jesus, I caught the American Dream Virus again. Symptoms: workaholism.

I’ve been picking up extra shifts and extra shifts, volunteering as tribute. The craziest hours have been adding up to fulltime and sometimes overtime.  I’ve had no sense of normalcy whatsoever! I see this tendency to get as busy as possible in our culture. It looks like a combination of poverty spirit, orphan spirit, and religious {judgmental, self-righteous, self-exalting, self-reliant} spirit. I feel like I breathe it in and sometimes I don’t realize what it does to me. It’s all around us. It’s in our shows, and in our conversations. What’s in our hearts flows right out of our mouths, and America is full of idolatry.

It is not fun to realize I’ve been back on the American dream team, flopping and forgetting. I’m supposed to be modeling Kingdom-living and here I am, bending backwards for any extra hours, throwing off my sleep in the worst ways and for what? Oh… money.

If I could live without it, I would. Live off the land, yadda yadda.

It’s crazy how you can have so much money, but if your heart isn’t right, you won’t steward it well.
On the flipside, you can have so little and make it stretch with a grateful heart.

The crucial difference that I’ve found in my behavior was contentment.

Contentment is the ability to look at your current situation, as is, with every perk and shortcoming on the table, and say “Okay, I’m proud of myself. There is both greatness and room for improvement.” And not focus entirely on the negative, nor wish you could scrap the whole thing. There’s a peace in knowing where you are is where the Lord has you, but it is not where He’s gonna keep you. To me, contentment is just knowing I’m a work in progress, in the hands of a Trustworthy Master. He’s not done with me yet, but I know He’s working, so I’m okay with that.

When I try to fix it all myself, I end up weary, sick, and discouraged. Why? Not just because of physical tiredness, but because I am adopting a false gospel. False gospels kill you. They change you into somebody that you are not, and then you don’t even realize how or why, but you start hating yourself. Really, it’s the discerning part of you hating the false gospel you’ve adopted, and we need to learn to swerve out of that. We don’t hate ourselves.

It is a false gospel that you get to earn things and then they are yours, by the way. Nothing is yours. Not even your life is yours. Your breath? Not yours. Money? Not yours. From the hairs on your head to your tiny pinky toes, you are not your own. You have been bought with a price. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, from the Father. Not from a paycheck. Can He bless you through a paycheck? Absolutely. But don’t get it twisted whose Name is on it.

Because we are His, and we yield our lives to Him, we get to yield our fears and doubts to Him as well. I once asked God why He was being irresponsible with my bills. It was hilarious, actually. I think He laughed, because it was such a ridiculous concept: God being irresponsible. I was following the call He gave me, and I was feeling an awful lot irresponsible because my finances were struggling. You see, sometimes we have JUST enough, or we start to near a breaking point. Then we do the thing we hate to do, and ask for help from the Body of Christ, and then there it is. We get help.

I tell you what: God is not being irresponsible with your bills. He might be breaking your pride. You’re a member of a Body, and you should be at least able to TEST the body by asking for help. If nobody helps you, then you can walk away and report back to the Lord that His Bride is sick. I’m sure He’ll get creative in providing for you, with birds, angels, and strangers. Hey, it’s in the Book.

Last but not least: a want is not a need.
The yucky side effect of the American Dream Virus? ENTITLEMENT.

I am reminding myself of this, so here we go:

-Cable is not a need. It is not. It has never been and it will never be, so help us God.
-Another thing that is not a need is the internet at home. Yes, I said it. There are other ways to get the internet, like restaurants, coffee shops, libraries, fo free. Unless you are a writer or a blogger or a student or you work from home, you don’t need it.
-A crazy smart phone is not a need. It is not a need!
-Spotify premium? Not a need.
-Netflix? Not a need… huge want… but not a need.
-Crazy expensive gym membership? Not a need. Get a basic one and stay healthy.
-A luxury car is not a need. It is not. It is ultimately a box on wheels that transports you from point A to point B.
-Pets…. this is gonna really irk some people, but oh well. PETS ARE NOT A NEED.  You cannot complain about how expensive their food or vet bills are, because you do not have to have them. Do I absolutely love them? Yes. But if I’m ever broke as a joke, I am not bringing a new pet into my situation.
-Restaurants are not a need. It is a want. You can save money by planning ahead and cooking at home.
-NAILS/TANNING/HAIR COLORS/WAX: ladies….. these are not needs. Are they wrong? No. But realize that in a pinch, the budget can go there.
-Shopping for random stuff: NOT A NEED. Don’t go shopping without a list, and don’t put on the list things that aren’t needed.

I am really particular about some of these wants. And I have them (not all of them). But if I ever need to cut back, that’s exactly where I’m going to hack.

I’m letting my heart breathe and taking a 3-day break next week. Nothing crazy. Just chill at home, staycation. Maybe go run. Make time for people. Recover from the trend I fell into of working as much as possible. I’m excited for a normal schedule, for 40 hours, and for contentment to seep into every part of my life. I’ll be starting a new job soon. For those who have been praying for me to get a fulltime job, with steady, non-crazy hours, thank you. Your prayers were effective!

Only the truth of the gospel sets me free from striving, and I am free indeed.

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