I’m still relatively new to Northern Virginia, but in my year of living here, one thing stands out far more than the horrific traffic, the well-educated population and even some of the social and political crises we face on a regular basis. Our busyness requires so much attention for the things we have to do that we have squelched our creative capacities for thinking about the people and communities we could become. Of course, bright lights of imagination and innovation pop up around us all the time. But I think we can all identify with the rut that work days and weeks can become.
In this rut, we rush past our neighbors (if we even know their names to begin with) to get to our cars, become our worst selves as our rage boils over in traffic, work with only the day’s end in mind, endure more traffic and come home to more tasks, crises or sheer exhaustion. Our tasks dictate our lives beyond a reasonable measure of responsibility. Do we ever ask, “Does it have to be this way?”
Yes, work is good and necessary. And yes, not everyone has the privilege of asking these kinds of questions. But no matter your career or professional trajectory, Jesus offers something far more meaningful than a monotonous daily grind.
You don’t have to quit, retire or get fired to experience the new life Jesus offers. In fact, Jesus offers us the Holy Spirit, whom we can invite into every moment of our lives as God’s constant, loving presence. This gift isn’t confined to your particular worship community on a given day, but can in fact fuel your imagination for a new routine.
Imagine what could happen if we took Jesus’ call to love our neighbors seriously, beginning with those who live right next door. Imagine what could happen if our commutes turned into opportunities to (safely and hands-free) call friends or partners in faith to encourage and stay connected to one another. Imagine what could happen if we saw our co-workers as fellow human beings who experience joy, sorrow, beauty and pain just like we do. Imagine what could happen if home became a rejuvenating place, even as you check items off your to-do list.
My generalizations cannot possibly give you solutions to breaking out of your own rut, but right now, take five minutes and ask that question: “Does it have to be this way?” Like we encourage recent college graduates in Wesley Fellows, you do not have to join a convent or work at a church to take Jesus’ call to discipleship seriously in your life. However, you do need to take time to imagine who you want to be and consider what steps you can take to get there. Don’t be afraid to unleash your creativity; this God-given gift, expressed in countless different ways, helps us achieve the unimaginable.