I was recently abducted by alien space travelers and forced into a floating compression chamber. Against my will. Really.
Something happened in that chamber that affected my creative mojo. It was like it was sucked out of me. Drained. Emptied.
But I have decided to fight back. I have risen from the ashes. I have had a resurrection, of sorts. I am going to write again. Yup. Actually, I was planning to start writing on New Year’s Day, as sort of a symbolic starting over. It seemed like a great thing to do.
I decided to make fish tacos instead.
Deal with it.
Anyway, I’m back with a random insight that came to me while I was reading today. There have been a variety of recent studies that all point to the same thing: Americans are not taking vacations like they used to. There are a number of contributing factors and even more effects…to our economy, to our productivity, to our family relationships and to our physical health.
According to the studies, 41% of Americans didn’t take a single vacation day last year. 25% receive no paid time off at all. Overall, Americans are taking off less time than at any point in the past forty years. Why? Economic insecurity.
People are afraid that taking time away from their jobs will make them look less dedicated than their coworkers…and they might be more likely to be let go in the case of layoffs. They work extra hours and skip holidays, so they might be eligible for promotions or bonuses (which are happening less and less, btw). Workers pass on vacation days, hoping to prove their devotion to their employers. Some avoid taking time off because there will be too much work to do when they return. Those on the other end of the pay scale simply can’t afford to forfeit paychecks, not to mention the difficulty of paying for some kind of trip.
Here’s my takeaway. Forty years ago, people gave huge amounts of hours serving in the life of their church family. Probably more than they should have. People would give four or five nights a week in prayer meetings, choir practice, Bible studies, calling on visitors, service projects, and the lost-but-not-forgotten Sunday evening service.
Over the course of my life, I’ve seen a slow fade. The majority of church folks just don’t give as much time to church things as they used to. And those that do are often functioning at near-exhaustion. I think I see a correlation.
Normal work hours (40-50 per week), consistent time off for relaxation, regular vacations that actually rejuvenate hurried souls lay the foundation and make room for giving our time away sacrificially.
When people overwork and don’t prioritize refreshment for the heart, soul, mind and body (either by choice or out of necessity), there just isn’t much room for sacrificial living.
This is the new normal.
Can anything be done about it?