Josh Irby

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A life of freedom and endurance

Editor’s Note: Kathryn Jackson is a wife, mother of three, Christ-follower, teacher and writer. When she is not dreaming of frolicking in dandelion fields, she blogs about life and such on her blog.

My name is Kathryn and I’m addicted to freedom. However, I’ve recently discovered a paradox. [tweet_quote hashtags=”@wideopenfield” ]Living a life free of constraint is not satisfying—it leads to emptiness.[/tweet_quote]

I experience the most freedom in the context of order and sacrifice.

Trey Ratcliff (Creative Commons)

Trey Ratcliff (Creative Commons)

Before I explain, you should know something about me.

I’m one of those free-spirited, creative types. I like flowy skirts and frolicking in fields. I struggled through nap schedules and potty training always looking forward to when all my kids were old enough to buckle themselves in their booster seats and join me on my adventures. I thought four would be the magic age. When my youngest was finally four, we could go on spontaneous trips to the beach and if I saw a field on the way, they would all be old enough to frolic with me.

Back then, I would have thought goals were confining. Freedom was a life free of constraint and goals represented the epitome of constraint.

But my life drastically changed.

One month before my youngest turned four, my kids and I were in a car accident that left my middle daughter forever disabled. Now, instead of frolicking, I stick to carefully constructed care-taking schedules that provide a stable environment for my daughter’s recovery.

I love my daughter. She is one of my life’s greatest joys. But sometimes my free-spirit feels strangled by the routine and I find myself longing for freedom.

There are times when I rebel against life-circumstances and take a much-needed break. But what starts as a healthy escape inevitably turns into weeks of self-gratification. I become addicted to Roku and chocolate (well I’m always addicted to chocolate, but you get the idea).

Where is the balance? How can I enjoy a break without becoming a bleary-eyed slob who sneaks chocolate from her kids’ Halloween stash? What I’ve learned is that I need to live a life of ENDURANCE. Endurance is the ability to do something difficult for a LONG time. Taking care of my disabled daughter for the rest of my life qualifies as doing something difficult for a LONG time. So how do I do it without losing my mind?

I have found an answer in God’s creation of the world. He established the world with a natural cycle of work and rest; consequently, our lives are made up of work/rest rhythms.

  • God ordered the rotation of our planet to provide regular, physical rest. There is morning (typically the time when we begin our work) and there is evening (typically the time when we begin our rest).
  • God ordered the moon and earth’s orbit to divide our lives into weeks, months and years. God instructs us to seek spiritual rest each week in worship, prayer and communion with others.
  • God also instituted the idea of yearly festivals, either to commemorate the past or to celebrate a season of hard work.

Work, rest, celebration. This is the heart of a life of endurance. It is a balance between working hard, resting hard and celebrating hard.

We can endure work because we look forward to the rest. We can rest in peace, because we are satisfied with our work. And we can celebrate joyfully, because of the fruit that comes from working and resting well.

Another way to think of this is to say that God wants us to structure our lives as a series of short-term goals which are dictated by a long-term purpose. Endurance is hard because you have to do the difficult thing for a LONG time. Well, shorten the time!

Knowing the evening brings rest gives us the determination to persevere through the difficulty of the work.
Setting aside one day a week to rest and worship keeps us working toward the best long-term goals.
Having a joyful time of celebration on the horizon, keeps our eyes lifted just enough to persevere through the relentlessness of our daily routine.

I also make it a priority to pursue a few short-term goals that fuel my personal passions. For me, it’s writing and running. Someone else might pursue gardening and reading. These pursuits are best suited for the “work” category of life. Rest must be guarded—it is the key to good work.

What about you? What are your short-term passions and pursuits? How do you live a life of endurance?

[box] Kathryn’s post fits in with the current series on the blog—Plan2Change. If you want to read more, check out the first two posts in the series: A life with no regrets and A focused life.[/box]



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