There are two very different sides I see being promoted in our current reality.
How to live your “best life”.
Some people say it’s using this time, where we have nothing to do anyway, and actually accomplish the things we’ve always wanted to do.
Drop 20 pounds.
Deep clean your whole house.
Transform into the two-in-one teacher-mom! Math hasn’t changed since you were in high school, c’mon you can do it!
Then there are other influencers who are pushing back on this “shaming” motivation to hustle during quarantine.
We are literally in a PANDEMIC.
You’re not “wasting” time.
We are all mourning the loss of something.
Take your time to heal.
This is quite a different feel.
Honestly, entertaining both sides of this argument can be confusing at times. Is there a right answer?
Work and Rest
Recently, I have allowed two influencers to shape my view of work and rest, in some ways I was well-aware of, and in other ways unknowingly.
Before I go any further, you should know that I have gained a lot of valuable knowledge from each of these influencers and their families. The purpose of this article is not to bash either of them, or their positions on work-rest balance. I think these stark differences exist due to the diversity of the population, and therefore, serve different people with different needs. You would never tell an addict to “live a little”, or a workaholic to “do better and hustle harder”. We will never hold to just one perspective, not even a single person in their lifetime. That was my lengthy disclaimer…
So here are the perspectives I’m examining for the sake of provoking deeper digs at how we view the work-rest balance (if we believe there is one), “hustle culture”, and “Jesus’ pace”:
The first I ran across was the discussion by Jefferson Bethke. Jeff is a well-known author, speaker and Youtuber in the Christian sphere. Living in Hawaii, his wife Alyssa, and their three young kids, demonstrate a slower pace of life, filled with depth and meaning. Jeff’s newest book “To Hell With the Hustle” completely changed the way I saw a lot of mundane aspects of American culture, and encourages us to reconsider our “life-hacking”, and take a cue from the Son of Man, welcoming inconvenience and making time for it, and speaking Truth over the lies in a works-based salvation. Incredible read. (well, I listened to it in the car as I traveled between my five schools in a day this year. the irony hurts, i know…)
The next person, and seemingly opposing discussion, is Rachel Hollis, and her perspective, as a self-made, industry-climbing super-mom. She is a recent discovery for me, and her teaching is met with immense passion by consumers, in a positive, and also hyper-critical sense. Rachel and her husband Dave live in a big house with their four kids (I think). Rachel is a NY Times best-selling author, motivational speaker, and content creator, and her business is built on the foundation of helping women set goals, and achieve their dreams. My experience with Rachel’s content came from watching her Amazon Prime documentary, as well as select Youtube content.
Let’s talk about what these two figures, and their platforms, have in common:
- They both go about disseminating information in the same way. Books, podcasts, videos, and social media. This is how they communicate their points of view.
- They believe that the general public is out of balance in some way or another.
- They are passionate about what they have to say about our modern culture.
- Their followers are seeking fulfillment (maybe because they feel a lack of contentment at the outset of discovering their material).
- They are both incredibly likeable people, who are captivating when they are doing their thing.
Those are the obvious ones. Another point, that may or may not be worth noting, is that they both live in ideal conditions for the lifestyle they choose. The Hollis’ have their workspace, gym, and family life in one concentrated spot. This is perfect for the type of lifestyle they promote. The Bethkes live in Hawaii, with it’s drool-worthy climate, and space and time to enjoy the team-like atomosphere of their family. In other words, the Hollis’ don’t live in a rural commune, and the Bethkes don’t live in NYC. Though they haven’t always been in ideal situations (as they are very open about their past trauma) they are both atypical to their content consumers, in how they have achieved the lifestyles they promote.
Hustle vs Rest
So what about hustle culture? Depending on who you are, and your season of life, opinions on this differ greatly.
Hustle culture bombards our thinking. Target mugs adorned with “daily grind” and “boss babe”. Gettin through the day on coffee, and a dream. You have to LOVE your job, or you’re doing the wrong one. The hustle separates the passionate from the so-so.
There is a dark reality of hustle culture: it’s never enough. The steady stream of discontentment follows those who are after the “next best thing”. Once we achieve this, we’re hungry for more. Bigger mountains, greater challenges. Some are even in chains to their commitments and successes, as if their worth depends on it.
But we feel guilty for resting. It has a negative connotation. Laziness. Neglect. The effects of our rest can lead to guilt, and the effects of others’ rest can lead to frustration. “If they would just do their job…” HOWEVER, when viewed biblically, these “lazy” decisions become “HOLY”. Like “oh that person is bold enough to set boudaries, how admirable!”
Because we can already mistake rest for laziness (and vice versa), this indicates a pre-existing concern regarding rest: how do the things that have to get done… get…done? If I rested as much as I needed, my familiy wouldn’t eat. Changing my perspective on rest would involve me quitting my job. Rest seems more like a luxury for the elite, than daily bread for the common man. We are truly broken.
Cautions (with love)
What initially concerns me about Jeff’s perspective is honestly how great it sounds to be able to be as balanced as his family is. His approach is so counter-cultural that it feels discouragingly impossible for the modern American. Is it reasonable to assume that ALL people can clear space in their lives, while still being able to support their loved ones at a basic level? Maybe Jeff was never out to make that assertion, and we can’t hold that against him. However, it is a reasonable question to ask. Is this going to work for everybody? And is this emphasis on rest still sufficient when practiced in lesser quantities? Is my 5 minute quiet time still meaningful, and once per year “date” with my kid enough? Or should I prioritize this area of my life, even if it means my kid doesn’t get to play soccer, or I choose a different job.
After listening to part of a video of Rachel and her husband, I marinated on a quote they discussed that I found rather disturbing: “if you’re not growing, you’re dying”. In other words, you’re either achieving, or marching slowly to your grave. Rachel Hollis is the biggest go-getter I’ve seen, and makes it as simple as possible for women to follow suit. But there is great danger in putting so much of our mental energy into our own plans. Has life ever gone according to plan? I’d say my biggest seasons of growth have occurred when my plans crumbled, and I leaned on the Lord, and NOT my own understanding. Sometimes we don’t need to see a task/goal through, and letting it die is to find freedom. What place does “loving your neighbor as yourself” and “lay[ing] down his life for his friends” have in this? Is that to assume we can’t hustle for ourselves, and only hustle for others? I’d say that’s a pretty blurred line.
I don’t know what kinds of conclusions you’re drawing from this, but I urge you to think about how your perceptions have been shaped by your culture. Or reading material.
You are not purely a measure of your successes. You are not failing if you can’t get nine hours of sleep per night like Jeff. If you don’t willingly wake up at 5am, you’re not a slacker, and you’re not dying.
I think, like a lot of what I’ve been reading lately, it all comes down to motive.
Why are you hustling or resting?
Are you hustling to get ahead? For status and self-elevation? Or are you hustling for the sake of the Kingdom? And are you glorifying yourself, or your Creator?
And likewise, are you resting to be cozy? To excuse obligation to others? To avoid uncomfortable risk? Or are you resting to listen, and to pause self-focus long enough to seek the will of God? Are you resting to resist a toxic culture of fulfillment derrived from work?
Sometimes you just gotta roll up your sleeves and get. it. done.
Sometimes “boss babes” take a dang nap.
We need both. Knowing that…
Rest is not true rest if not found in Him. And hard work is a meaningless time-filler if not done unto the Lord.
You have permission to take naps during quarantine.
To knit blankets.
To read books on things you don’t understand, to grow your own knowledge base.
You have permission to try and get just a little bit better at homeschooling your kids with each passing day.
Permisson to cry, and be held until you pass out.
To abandon your professional responsibilities to take care of your family.
To take up a new hobby.
To bake all the treats, and break your diet if your priorities in this season lie elsewhere.
And to attempt something far greater than you imagined you could because you happen to have the time.
Know your WHY. Check your motives. And take care of yourself accordingly.