By Elder Glen Tan
It has been a tough year, hasn’t it? After such a tumultuous and exhausting year, I am sure that many of us are looking forward to a good break this December. I hope that you have made some plans for extended time of rest and refreshment in the course of the next few weeks. For certain groups, it may be challenging to do so due to the time of the year. One example is our church staff team who are busy with the resumption of physical services and the running of our Christmas programmes. I thank them for their faithfulness and thank God for them.
With Covid-19 wreaking havoc around the world, many of us had to make major adjustments to our lifestyles. Possibly the most common adjustment we had had to make was working from home. Prior to this, this had been a largely unfamiliar concept to many.
While working from home initially sounded like a welcome enforced change, it turned out that it was not as straightforward as many of us thought it would be. It was reported that stress levels increased as the line between work and home blurred. Because our offices were now in our homes, work was accessible to us at any time of the day and it was not uncommon for employees to be expected to act on work assignments way past office hours. At the same time, parents of young children found themselves having to cope with multiple demands, having to concurrently manage the expectations of work and the needs of young children who were at home.
I was not spared from this stress. I found myself unable to log off my work computer completely after office hours, sometimes leaving it on till the night as I waited for emails to come in. Over time, I sensed some insecurity creeping in, an insecurity brought about by the anxiety of not having completed a certain task or wanting to respond to a higher authority as promptly as I could. Throughout the day, I had to balance my work with managing the needs of the family. I often had to stop work temporarily to attend to my children who sought my attention and then go back to my work after that. This “mode-switching” went on several times throughout the day and mentally drained me as a result.
I found myself getting overwhelmed, short-tempered and exhausted having to cope with these demands. Over time, I realised that in trying to satisfy everyone around me, I had not been “plugged in” enough to the work of the Spirit. I was trying to please the world and take things into my own hands in fulfilling expectations and meeting needs. I needed to commune with the Lord once again. But in plugging in with the One who gives rest and refreshment, I needed to first unplug from the temporal things at the appropriate times.
Unplugging as I learnt however, requires effort on our part. As I reflected on my desire to unplug, I learnt two things.
Unplugging requires discipline.
We need to intentionally carve out time to unplug. There are many things that need to be done and many reasons why we would not be able to get away from our earthly tasks. Even more so, we need the discipline and determination to take that step to set aside time to unplug. While taking time off to rest in the Lord in the midst of all our busyness may seem to us like a luxury, it is perhaps more a form of discipline.
Unplugging requires dependence.
Not many of us will find it easy to log off our computer at the end of a hectic workday, especially with multiple deadlines looming. It is even more challenging to take our minds completely off work. It therefore takes dependence to log off our emails and shut down our computers and trust the Lord to look after our work for us.
Taking that first step will not be easy. But over time, as we practise this discipline and cultivate the dependence, I pray that we will find joy in our roles at home and at work as we see it in the light of God’s mission for us in this world, and that we will also find appropriate time to rest in the Lord.
This Advent and Christmas season, I pray that we will draw closer to the Lord as we rest in His presence and love. Wishing all brothers and sisters a blessed December!