Thorns and Thistles

I watch my father come home from work, stressed out, snappish, yelling for the first half-hour after he’s come home, criticizing everyone and anyone for the smallest of offenses (the garbage cans weren’t exactly where they should have been, I bought 2% milk instead of 1% milk, dinner was ready but wasn’t put on the table quick enough, the bread I bought only had 2 grams of fiber per slice instead of 3).  He brings tension home along with his lunchbag and briefcase, and it spreads amongst our family like a virus. 

I watch my friend Alban’s face fall at the mere mention of Monday; watch the knowledge of the shortness of our time leave a sour aftertaste to our hanging out on Sunday nights.  I’ve seen work follow him home like a lost puppy dog, invading Triva Night or pulling him away early from movie nights, leaving him perennially tired.  I’ve seen fear of getting sick and missing work lead him to skip out on a weekend camping trip…

Look, don’t get me wrong–I’m not afraid of work.  I mean, yes, part of me is forever lazy, but I’m still not afraid of good work.  Work that one enjoys.  Work that one can whistle while doing.  Work that gets dirt under one’s fingernails, Work that taxes one’s mind, Work alongside fellow laborers…  But many people that I know seem to end up in mind-numbing work.  Soul-crushing work.  Work that swallows their lives.

I’m fairly busy this semester–but I’m still not full time.  I have about 75% of what a full time professor teaches, and about 50% of what a high school teacher teaches.  To be fair, a good chunk of my busyness is that two of my classes are classes I’ve never taught before, and so each night I’m scrambling to put together a lesson plan for the next day’s lecture–and next time I teach these classes I won’t have to do that.  But still.  Here I am, fairly busy, and at 50% steam.  What will it be like when I teach a full load?  Will I disappear under the workload?  Even if I am doing something that I love (which I’m almost afraid to hope that I will be), will it nevertheless devour me?

Will I someday come home, snap at my wife and kids, and import tension into my house?

As a man I believe that I am responsible for the welfare of my family–that I have to make sure my family is fed, clothed, and has the necessities and little luxuries they require.  As a Christian I believe that any occupation I enter will be fraught with frustration due to the curse of Adam.  How do I keep the daily frustrations from entering my soul, affecting who I am?

I think I would prefer thorns and thistles to busyness.

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