I’ve often heard the expression, “if it was fun, they wouldn’t call it work.” However, no matter how painful work may sometimes seem, it should not be seen as a drudgery, but rather a participation in God’s handiwork.
Through multiple recent reorganizations of the company where I work, I’ve been struggling to avoid becoming jaded and to continue caring about the work that I’m doing. This struggle is also spilling over into my home life, as I tend to procrastinate in my daily chores. After a day at the office, I want to have “me” time.
Searching for some resolution to this dilemma, in the past week, I came across two very different examples of, not the drudgery, but the glory of working. One was a video by Fr. Mike on Ascension Presents YouTube channel, called Letting God Take His Time. The other was a chapter in He Leadeth Me by Fr. Walter Ciszek.
Father Mike’s video demonstrates to me an aspect of work in which we can encounter God in every moment of our activity, and thus should not rush through a project but treasure this gift. He tells a story about building a pre-fab shed on an unlevel foundation. His co-worker wanted to disassemble what they had put together to level the foundation. He was in a hurry to get it completed so that he could move on to the next task. Rather than rushing through the building process and forcing the pieces to fit, going back to the beginning to level the foundation made the building go much smoother and faster. He points out, that we can never encounter God in the past or in the future. We can only encounter God in the present moment, in whatever we are doing in that moment. If we hurry out or are focused on past or future activities, then we miss the connection with God and doing His will in the everyday tasks.
In his book, Fr. Ciszek relates his experience of spending 23 years in the Soviet Gulag and how it affected his faith journey. Initially, his chapter about work made me feel badly for complaining about my job, compared to the severity of his servile prisoner work, which was beyond comprehension. He had to perform hard labor to earn mere sustenance. He struggled with the work as well, but came to an amazing perception about it: ”…all work, any work, has a value in itself. It has a value insofar as it partakes in the creative act of God. It has value insofar as it partakes of God’s redemptive acts. It has value in itself and a value for others.”
These examples demonstrated to me that if we allow ourselves to be instruments of God, He will work in us and through us in all moments, not just the ones that make us feel good. We can also call upon God for strength, patience, and aid in getting the job done. Even in paradise, there was work; in Genesis 1:15, God places man in the garden He created “to cultivate and care for it.”
So whether it is sitting in a seemingly endless conference call at the office or taking out the trash, we can participate in the work of God by being open to Him in the moment and doing the best job we can.