Investments in Joy: A Project For Those Working Remote Or Overwhelmed By The Daily Grind

Some people say that it is easiest to reach for God when they are hurting or upset.

I understand this.  It’s instinctive, for me: when everything goes wrong, I run to God immediately.  I have known for so long that He is my ever-present help in times of trouble that it’s foolish not to head for Him when it appears.

But I also have a tendency to run to God when I’m peaceful and happy: in Ireland, when I’m standing and staring at the sea; in the bathtub, when I’m listening to a podcast or reading a book; when I am crocheting or writing or absorbed in a work I enjoy doing; when I am drinking a cup of coffee and gazing out the back window at the wetland.

When things are great, and when things are terrible, I reach for God.  It’s when I enter the day-to-day work stress that the wheels fall off.

Tish Harrison Warren writes in Liturgy of the Ordinary that

…there are people who face profound agony every day: chronic pain, heart-wrenching loss, desperation.  In my own life there have been seasons of deep sorrow.  But this is not that.  This is not the Valley of the Shadow of Death.  This is the roadside ditch of broken things and lost objects, the potholes of gloom and unwanted interruptions.

That is where I lose sight of God almost all of the time.  Somewhere between the morning prayer and opening my first work email I’m doomed.  And then I glance up at lunch and I am aggravated, harassed, and frustrated.  The day that started off with “thank you, Lord, for this morning” has by noon rapidly deteriorated into “and she said she wanted the file Wednesday but all of a sudden she wants it today and it’s not like I have anything else to do, so yeah, no problem, I’ll get to that when I’m done these hundred other things on my list.”

It is not a good look on me.  It has been happening more lately.

That’s at least partially because working remote is difficult.  I do it now almost all the time and, though I had always enjoyed the random work from home day when I spent my life in the office, I am finding now that it isn’t as chill and relaxed as I thought it would be.  I saw a joke on the internet that working remote isn’t so much “working from home” as it is “living at work,” and I am finding that to be uncomfortably true.

I’m working longer than I ever did in the office. I am taking the lead on high-stakes projects, which is in some ways a benefit – it’s nice to be trusted and given opportunities – but is also profoundly stressful.  I attend more meetings now than I have ever attended in my life, which is draining for an introvert like me.  Day to day, demands large and small pile up and up and up and my accountability for all of them only ever grows.  Add to that a pile of colleagues and coworkers experiencing similar issues, and…well, it’s rough.

I don’t like the person I have become during and after work, lately.  I am angry.  I am bitter and resentful and sometimes barely holding back levels of hostility that for me are unusual.  I forget about God, and peace, and intimacy.  It feels very far away at those times.  And it wasn’t until I took a week of vacation that I realized it doesn’t just feel very far away – it is very far away.  There is literally no time in my day for God.  Is it any wonder that my feelings are roiling up so much and overwhelming my ability to even sense His presence?

So I came back to where I find God the most: in moments of peace and contentment.  And I began asking myself how I might build those into my workday, acknowledging that while I used to take breaks for coffee or to chat or simply to walk to meetings at the office, I no longer do that at home and am feeling it sorely.

What resulted was a project I am calling Investments in Joy.

Today, I wrote up a list of small items that I know will bring me peace and/or joy into the workplace.  They are deliberately small enough to fit into the coffee/chat office breaks that were a part of my previous normal workday: a chance to break away from work and to take a moment to breathe and refocus.  My list includes the following:

  • a 10-15 minute yoga stretch for neck, shoulders, back
  • a cup of tea (turmeric ginger, apple cranberry, or peach) or a cup of coffee that I take the time to walk downstairs and make
  • a walk downstairs to say hi to my husband in his office
  • a few moments to pet and/or play fetch with the cats
  • a 10-15 minute break to read a small devotional or book chapter
  • listening to a really good and calming song
  • permission to not answer emails in five minutes after I receive them if I am busy with another project
  • permission to unplug completely once I leave work for the day

I suspect at the very least these moments will allow me to reintroduce God into my day if the wheels, indeed, have started to fall off.  I hope to choose two or three of them a day to give me something ot look forward to: investments in joy that will remind me to give God room to exist around me.  If nothing else, I am hoping that they take the edge of urgency off work, round away the intense sense of pressure and overwhelm that happens naturally when you are literally staring into your computer screen and a nigh endless list of demands all day.

I don’t know if any of you are struggling with remote work, or perhaps with child care or the day-to-day grind that makes it difficult to focus your heart on God.  If you are, please know you have my deepest empathy, and maybe give something like this a try.  I have to remember that God will fill as much space as I give Him to fill–and if I let my work fill it all up, there will be no room for anything else at all.

And if you have any ideas for a list of your own, please, share them here so we can all steal them!

 

 

14 thoughts on “Investments in Joy: A Project For Those Working Remote Or Overwhelmed By The Daily Grind

  1. As a sixth grade teacher, I have felt a lot of these same things. It seems like now, my students only talk to me when they have a problem. And they are also feeling the stress, or maybe it is just that they have no idea of how to appropriately communicate electronically, because all their anxiety comes through in demands on me. I don’t have the normal interaction with them, so I’m feeling frustrated and drained, never filled up by laughing and joking with them. It has been rough.

    Stopping for yoga or a time to write and pray in the middle of the day when I feel my patience wearing thin has helped. Also, finding ways to serve others has really helped me. Dropping off books or games on a front porch and leaving chalk messages on the driveways of my school and church family always cheers me up.

    I’ve realized most that things are radically different, and I have to be creative in how I am dealing with the different. That realization helped me to acknowledge the problem and look for solutions. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Oh, that is so tough. The emotional burden is real. I teach college students so we get a little less of that….but they are all going through their own struggles and it makes learning hard for them. I love the idea of serving others as a way to cope – it really does make a difference and force a shift in perspective. We’re all having to get creative with this time, I think!

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  2. Hi, God bless you. Thanks for your wonderful postings. I am blessed by them often. Just one small thing: You have mentioned doing yoga. I don’t know if it’s meditative outright, or non meditative, but in general, this is worrisome. Please trust me when I say that ALL forms of yoga and eastern meditation are spiritual cyanide. regardless that it’s wrapped up right now as safe, and harmless new ageism. It’s dangerous in any form. No matter how it’s proclaimed. It’s, at it’s core, spiritual and not of the Holy Spirit. It’s not good practice, and even if it seems tame and minor, it’s best to avoid it altogether. We sometimes have to learn lessons the hard way. I am telling you this not to judge you, but because I am always watching and wanting to warn anyone, especially believers to avoid any such practices. I wish you well and I am praying for you always. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jayden, and thank you for this! I am acquainted with the history and context of yoga as it had traditionally been practiced, and I understand your concerns. I should clarify I do not practice yoga in the traditional way – rather I use the time to meditate on Scripture and to pray (and stretch!), so I don’t find anything about the practice to be antithetical to my walk with God. But I am so glad and grateful that you were willing to reach out and offer me the chance to explain! I thank you for your prayers.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, thank you. God bless you. From what you’ve described it isn’t yoga at all? I agree with meditating on the Lord’s Word. I don’t see what you do as being yoga, and you said you’re well aware of the history and practice of it. It’s early. I need more coffee, lol. 😃

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      2. Hah! And yes, really I only even refer to it as “yoga” because I borrow the postures and poses for stretching. But it is divorced from its original spiritual context.

        We ALL need more coffee, all the time, lol. I can’t get enough.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I can do relate to this post

    Yes, most days are like this

    It’s Thank You, Lord for this day…but then the whole day turns so rotten and the thankfulness turns to craziness

    Yup

    📝👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree. Especially when we have something important to do for the Kingdom. We all have our own faults and weaknesses, but I think sometimes the enemy knows that and tries to frustrate us and put up obstacles. But the Lord knows that and will make a way for it to somehow be for our own good and growth, and His glory over the long haul. 😃

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Working remotely is highly overrated. I am in education, and it is contrary to what is best for our kids at times. When I am in a state of hurt or upset, I often feel the furthest from God. Do you pray the Liturgy of the Hours? It is a wonderful tool for daily prayer times. I set an alarm on my phone for 9am, 12pm and 3pm. The notification is a church bell sound. It is a reminder to stop and pray. There are days when I totally ignore it (because I am a stubborn ass), but it does cause me to stop and assess my day.

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    1. So many of us are in education! Yes, this is so hard on the kids.

      And HAH, you sound like me. I have a Daily Office app on my phone that serves a similar purpose but it only offers morning/evening reminders, which actually does not help…. I think I might attempt your method. Though I, too, am stubborn and I, too, can see myself ignoring it on a crazy day! But sometimes just having the reminder helps.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Give it a shot. At least it causes you to stop and pause. Hey, guilt can be an effective motivator at times. haha!! Download church bell notifications. My son will hear it and yell out “mom, say your prayers!!”

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