So, did you have a happy Thanksgiving? I did. I went to visit my parents in Armour, South Dakota, for a few days. We left early Thursday morning and came back Saturday afternoon.
What was different about this trip was that I made the conscious decision that I was going to do absolutely nothing that was work-related while I was gone. In fact, my “no work” zone started Wednesday evening, as soon as I left the community Thanksgiving service in Onida.
This is the first time in a long time I’ve gone that many consecutive days without doing anything that was related to my work. Don’t get me wrong—I’ve taken time off in that time. Most of the time, though, even during my time off, I do a little reading, or a little writing, or a little planning, or something. If nothing else, I’m at least thinking about what I’m going to do when I get back.
This time, I did none of that. It helped that my parents have no computer, and so no internet access. Still, I decided that I was not going to take my laptop, I was not going to take any books, I was not even going to take a notepad. I did take my cell phone, but oddly enough, nobody called. I went nearly three full days without doing anything that was even remotely connected to my work.
As I was driving back Saturday, I suddenly realized something. I was looking forward to getting back to work. I enjoyed my time away, but I had missed my job. I was eager to get back to it again.
I’ve written before about how much I love my work as a pastor, and I do. The thing is that you can’t miss something when you’re surrounded by it all the time. When you’re surrounded by something all the time, even though you enjoy it, you can start to take it for granted. You can only miss something when you get away from it for a little while. In a way, the fact that I missed my job was confirmation of how lucky I am, and how much I really do love the work that I do.
Whenever we take something we love for granted, we forget how special it is. That’s true of people, too. When we take the people we love for granted—our spouse, our children, our friends, our colleagues—we forget how special they are.
I’m not advocating that we all shirk our responsibilities. A little time away from what we love, however, can be a good thing. A little time away from who we love can be a good thing, too. That time can remind us of how important and special those things and people are, and how lucky we are to have them in our lives. Once we’re reminded of that, we can then show our appreciation in a much more real way. It’s a reminder we all need once in a while.