Meaning in Every Moment
I saw this tweet a few weeks ago and it got me thinking.
Life is lived in those moments in between sitting at your desk and couch.— Tristan O’Tierney (@tristan) January 25, 2014
Many of us spend the bulk of our lives sitting at our desk working (or procrastinating) and sitting on our couches, parked in front of the TV trying to unwind from all the time we spent at our desks. We miss so much of the beauty of life if we don’t pry ourselves away from our jobs and experience the world and the richness of friendships, and food, and culture.
The average American spends 4-5 hours watching TV every day1. It is so easy to fall into this trap – to sit down and relax, letting the images careen across our faces while we laugh or tense in suspense or mindlessly enjoy. Before we know it we’ve spent the whole evening under the glow of the television and maybe missed time with our spouse, or kids, or friends. Of course, there is nothing wrong with watching TV, but we can let it rob us out of the things we really care the most about.
While we miss much of life never leaving our living rooms and offices, I think we would be remiss to conclude that real life and meaning doesn’t come from our work and our leisure. I would argue that life is not lived in the moments between sitting at our desk and couch, but can be lived through all the moments. What if we saw that all of our life, every moment, could have meaning?
So many of us are working for the weekend, and yet working ourselves to death. If we stopped vilifying or idolizing work we could find that it has a proper place to offer us fulfillment without becoming our identity. We don’t have to be web developer, or an accountant, or a stay at home mom – we could be ourselves who happen to make a living and serve the world through our occupation.
Tim Keller, in his book Every Good Endeavor, makes the case that we are meant for work, that we can find meaning in all work. He helped me see my work as an expression of my gifts and passions and that in its best moments could be used to serve others and build a vibrant culture. I have the opportunity every day to shape the world around me.
Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do. It is, or it should be, the full expression of the worker’s faculties… the medium in which he offers himself to God.
Going to work, playing softball with our kids, taking out the trash, and reading a good book can all be meaningful. We can find life in the mundane because we are not living simply to get by, but because we are offering ourselves with all of our gifts and talents to make a difference in this world. When we live our lives with that sense of calling, we no longer throw ourselves doggedly into our work or try to escape reality in front of the TV – we can work hard and rest well, taking each moment as a gift.
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