Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:
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In these last few months, when I’ve had to work harder than perhaps I’ve ever had to work in my entire life, I have come to a new understanding of what it means to seek comfort. Before this, I sitting down in a chair and drinking coffee and reading a book was my natural state. If I didn’t need to be doing anything else, this is what I wanted to be doing. I enjoy sitting and doing nothing.
Maybe I’m part of the entitled generation, which also usually means the lazy generation. I have never been particularly into sports or exercise. I do like getting things done but I tend to have a burst of energy to be productive in an attempt to finish and get back to sitting in my chair, drinking my coffee, and reading a book. I used to view work as a means of getting to my next moment of comfort.
I would view work as a necessary activity whether I said it out loud or only in my heart, I would do it a bit begrudgingly. It’s true, I consider myself a lazy person. I really just don’t like doing anything at all except sitting in a chair and reading or chatting with some friends or watching my children play. I could do that all day long, much to the dismay of my incredibly active, A-type personality husband.
Two things have happened in the last few months that have really shifted my attitude toward comfort. First, I started working so hard that I started to view my house chores as restful. And second, I read some intense books about the saints that made me realize how much of a baby I was being.
When you begin to do physical labor or when you begin to work 10 to 12 hours a day, you start to view activities that you previously thought were boring as restful.
My job sometimes has me drive 4 hours away from my home to do a fence bid and then turn around and drive back. On those days, I consider it a break to get to do the dishes or mop the floors. There is a peace in those activities. They are the very same activities that 6 months ago I would grumble about doing.
I would also insist on making sure my husband knew that I did them so he could see what a great homemaker I was, or at least how much I was sacrificing to stay at home. Now we are both working so hard that neither of us takes the time to point out all the great things we did that day. We’re both just trying to survive. We pat each other on the back and we try to support each other as teammates trying to finish a marathon that we see no end to.
Whether you’re a working mom out of choice or because you have to be… and whether you’re a stay-at-home mom who is deep in the trenches of toddlerland or driving all over living in teenville, our jobs can be tough. It’s easy to allow the drudgery of our jobs to steal our joy. Instead of seeing blessings, we’re just trying to push through to the next moment of comfort that we can find.
Maybe we’re thinking of a new house or a vacation or a bubble bath at the end of the day. There are many ways we allow our restlessness and our aim for comfort to take up hours of our daydreaming time. And while rest and planning is by no means a bad thing, perhaps you are focusing too much on comfort and not seeing the rest in the work you’re already doing. I know that’s what was happening to me.
I think it’s important that we try to get perspective so we can appreciate more of what we have. This is difficult to do by yourself. That’s why I recommend reading books about the Saints or about struggles in third world countries so that you beginning to understand that here in America, one of our greatest weaknesses is that we are continually seeking out comfort. We want to be comfortable and that is our aim.
When you read books about the 1800’s or the Great Depression or either of the World Wars, it can quickly show you how truly blessed and comfortable our lives already are. Instead of grumbling about having to go outside and pull my own weeds (oh how quickly I forget that I grew up in an apartment where I owned no land, including the weed), I should find joy in taking care of the things God gave me.
I’m a melancholic person by nature so keeping a cheery attitude takes a lot of effort and that’s why I need guideposts along the way. Praying the rosary is one of my guideposts. It’s hard not to feel grateful after meditating on the sorrowful mysteries. I also go out of my way to read books that make me feel uncomfortable. When you read through the horror that John Paul II lived through before he was even 30, you’ll think twice about letting bitterness take root in your heart over the laundry.
I know you can’t all go out and start working 12 hours a day doing physical labor to help improve your perspective of your life or reframe your view of comfort. Instead, I would recommend reading one of the five books below. Get out of your own head and into someone else’s shoes. I think it will help you appreciate both the ups and the downs that you’re currently facing.
I hope one of these reaches out and grabs you. I hope you can come to appreciate the beauty of your own life. I hope God can shape your soul through the circumstances of your time here on Earth so that you choose to spend eternity in Heaven with him. We’re striving for sainthood and the longer I live, the more I think we’re not doing enough. That is not a reason to despair but rather to be joyous that there is so much room to grow!