Get some rest -- You're human and God commands it

Today's post comes from our friend and Kickstarter backer, Andrea Klobucher. We are so thankful for her support, and her reflections in this piece!

Get some rest -- You're human and God commands it
By Andrea Klobucher

This post is for the workaholics, for the doers, for the caregivers, for myself.

I disagree that relaxation is a means to the end of being a better parent or worker. While it is a wonderful side effect that a happy well-rested human being will perform more optimally, the reason why people deserve time to rejuvenate is simply because they are human beings. Period.

A hurried life is hurried toward merely our own deaths, and therefore, we have no choice but to seek joy often. It is the business of living. My workweeks are often hurried, but you will often find my husband and myself moseying through Saturday and Sunday. We don't work, we don't think about work, we try not to worry about work. But, our reason for doing this is not so that we can perform more optimally on Monday. We get the same result, but with a different intent. The difference in intent matters. One is oppression, the other is liberation.

Corporate advice misses this distinction; people I humbly respect miss this distinction. I disagree with the notion that employers should give employees rest and time off for the purpose of letting workers rejuvenate so that they will do a better job afterward.

I have read business advice that instructs employers to give their employees time off because such is needed for a happier more productive workforce. The advice goes something like, "Giving employees paid vacation pays off in the long run."

I cringe at this because it presupposes that all of an employee's time is owned by his employer and that even time away is for the purpose of serving the corporation's needs. But nobody owns anybody's time - everyone is a child of God, a human being with a divine spark. You give time off, you take time off, because it is the right thing to do. The best employers do not deny our collective humanity -- they get this.

I've read idea bloggers who say, essentially, "Rest. Go out into nature. You'll come up with better ideas and might receive new insights."

And I think, "Yes, that might happen, but that can't always be the primary reason for doing so. If it is, then you are stuck in the slave-to-performance mindset that pervades our workaholic profit-driven culture."

Over the last few years in my Wall Street job, I have never gotten a better stock insight on a mountain trail hike. I don't think about stocks when I am hiking. No flash of creative work-related inspiration comes to me when I am cooking a meal from scratch or playing with my kid. When I returned from vacation this year, I wasn't any better at my job than before. The rest, the living, the joy, the playtime, was an end within itself.

(Aside: We should have the intellectual courage to admit that we do things sometimes simply because we like to do them - not because those things serve some socially respected prestigious purpose.)

And it's not just us in corporate America who need to hear this. It goes for caregivers too -- clergy, nurses, parents, teachers, and school counselors. They will advise each other, "Take time out so you are refreshed and can be a better caregiver when you return. Self care is part of your job."

(Aside: I have worked in the corporate, business, federal government, and journalism world for 15 years and have never heard the term "self care" used in the workplace. I think it's like a churchy word or something.)

Ok. Yes, it does so happen that rejuvenation rejuvenates the caregiver. But, taking time off is a means within itself. It's even one of the Ten Commandments! Keep the Sabbath holy.

Each of the commandments are means in and of themselves, not necessarily means to another end that serves a profit or serves others. Each has benefits and positive side effects, sure, but the benefits are the gravy.

This message is just as much to myself as anyone else. I sometimes relax by literally jogging lots of miles, which feels like play but also assuages my guilt over resting. I could do better at realizing my own worthiness of receiving downtime.

The dominant message in many settings, in my perception, is that rest serves the purpose of work. We need to push back hard against that notion.

What do you think?

Andrea is a Seattle wife and mom. She is also a stock analyst who researches high tech companies. She spends a lot of time thinking about God and living a Christian life on Wall Street, where money can fix anything, and in Silicon Valley, where technology can fix anything. She scribbled this post during an airplane flight that did not offer wi-fi service.