Life of Leisure

Life of Leisure

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Well, Boundless just got a bit more international, because I am writing this from Canada! I graduated from seminary a week and a half ago, and then my boyfriend and I drove the 20 hours to Red Deer, Alberta, where he lives. I'm up here for the summer so that we can experience some day-to-day living after dating long distance for the past few months.

My boyfriend teaches high school, and Canadians go to school until the end of June. That means that he's at work during the day, and I am not. I just spent the last three years doing an intense master's program and plenty of freelance to help support me through school. I often went to school during the day and did my writing work at night and on weekends. Earlier this year as I was studying for my comprehensive exams and writing my thesis, I remember wishing I could take one day off per week. Just one day with no work would have felt wonderful. (And, yes, I know I probably should have been taking a Sabbath no matter what. But I wasn't.) So, my past few years have been ridiculously busy.

Then I graduated. My life immediately went from too much to barely anything. I am in Canada right now, and I don't have a job. I have a bit of freelance work, but my deadlines feel light years away. (If you hear of any freelance, let me know. A girl's got to pay back her grad school loans.) I don't have many friends up here, and most of the people I do know work during the day. So far, I have no community or church obligations, and certainly no Greek homework. I'm not quite sure how to feel about it all.

On the one hand, I kind of like this restful life. I like sleeping in and not having to commit to being anywhere by a certain time. It's late morning right now, and I'm still in sweatpants and sipping my coffee. I'll probably go for a walk in a bit and think about what I might make us for dinner tonight. I have a few new books to read, and Netflix is just a click away. This no-pressure life is kind of nice. But at the same time, I can see this aimless way of life getting boring really soon. As much as I complain about being busy, there's something in me that likes having a schedule, that thrives when there's a lot to do. During school, I constantly longed for free days, but when I got them, I felt like I should be doing something. And that is some of what I am feeling right now. I'm not bored yet. I kind of like this freedom and relaxation. But even though it's just been a week, I already feel a bit guilty for all the rest I'm getting. I feel pressure to do something. I feel guilty without a busy life. I think anyone who sees me taking a leisurely walk at 2 p.m. might wonder why I'm not at work, why I'm lazy, why I'm so irresponsible.

This summer is unusual. I will likely never have another one like it, with so much freedom and time to rest. I should probably take advantage of it, and appreciate the fact that the Lord has given me time to enjoy things. To read, to pray, to exercise, to plan, to explore with time and energy that is not usually afforded to me. That is probably how I should view this summer. But I can already tell that I'm going to have a hard time doing that. There is something in me — probably pride — that tells me I should be seen as someone who is always looking busy and ambitious.

So, what do you all think? How should I tackle my summer? How do you feel when you have free time — do you enjoy it or feel restless?

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  • Maybe looking for work?

  • @MikeTIme - that depends on whether she is legally allowed to work in Canada...

    @Denise - not from that area of Canada (I'm a little further west in BC), but I have family there and know there's lots to explore in that area.

    When I have free time, one of my favourite things to do is read a good book. If I don't have anything to read, I get bored with free time pretty easily, but with a good book, free time is great.

  • On the spiritual note, in seasons of life like this, I wonder if God is wanting to teach us how to live from a place of rest instead of striving, and allow Him to continue establish our identity in the worth and value that He has placed on our life. This takes on a new meaning when we are stripped of activities or doings that we can so easily allow to define our sense of identity or well-being. When I have had these moments of down times in life, I have seen them as an invitation from the Lord to encounter His love for me in a tangible way that completely transforms my heart. I hope this is a fun and refreshing summer for you!

  • I have been out of school for nine months now, and I am growing restless. I am tired of finding random ways to keep myself preoccupied, and I could really use a schedule.

  • I have been experiencing a time of underemployment for 3 months, so I understand what you mean. I've never had extended time off since I worked through college then worked full time, so this break is giving me a chance to explore things I haven't had energy to do after a busy day of work or schoolwork. I'm doing more housework for my family since my Mom is away a lot to care for her mother. I can help with VBS at my church for the first time in years. I can volunteer and taking meals to friends with new babies.

    I've also been learning about finding my identity as a child of God instead of a student or employee. It's awkward to be asked the "and what do you do?" question, when there is no cool or socially validating answer, but God doesn't call us to be cool or seek society's approval. He calls us to follow him, seek his will and serve others.

    My Protestant work ethic keeps me from getting too comfortable, but I'm also glad for this time to stop, listen to God, and observe life around me, instead of just get through each day. Hopefully this won't last for too long, but I'm going to try to use it wisely while it lasts.  

  • Enjoy this season.  As you said, you'll never get another one like it.  Read the books you've always meant to read but not had time for.  Write letters to neglected friends.  Call your family.  Invest in people and relationships, knowing this is a rare time you have to do so.  (And if you really itch for things to do, go visit people in nursing homes or hospitals.)  

  • What a unique season for you, and one with such potential.  How exciting!!!  

    I was in a similar space for a few months last year, when I was only in part-time employment in a new city.  I spent some time near the start praying, thinking, brainstorming and defining and refining "areas/priorities and goals".  I came up with a few key areas: My walk with God, my relationships with people, my health, finances/future and my setting up my home were some.  From there I worked out specific goals or strategies for each area.  Then each day/week I would aim to make progress in each area.  

    Sounds super geeky and structured, but I felt much happier in feeling like I was being "productive", while not having my days structured for me by work.  By being intentional I felt like I could relax, and make the most of the season I was in.

  • "So, what do you all think? How should I tackle my summer? How do you feel when you have free time ā€” do you enjoy it or feel restless?"

    Since you opened up your situation for conversation I'll start there - how are you supporting yourself living away from home with no work?  If you have enough to cover it that's great, it's just that most college grads aren't really in that position.  Not trying to be stand-offish but my mind just went to the practical side of things first.  Spiritually speaking, I found extended unemployment to be the worst experience I've ever had and I pray to God I don't have to endure it again.  Sure, my Church attendance was perfect and I was involved in extra curricular stuff, but I was also miserable.

    Don't get me wrong, I love lazy weekends and the idea of taking a week off just staying home is my idea of a vacation.  But that's one week - and knowing I have consistent work and financial stability ahead of me.  Remove some of those things and I find unstructured living to be almost unbearable.  Best advice I could give is to make a daily schedule/list of goals and stick to it.  Just feeling productive is a big part of it, even if you're not working.

  • I am a little confused. Do you live with your boyfriend? Does he live with his parents or has roommates that you share a room with?

    if so, do you think that's wise?

    wouldn't it be better to just make a commitment and marry sooner instead of ""tasting life together on daily basis after a long distance rel"" without any certitude of marrying or dare I say it, without being married?

    Where in the world do we get this idea that we can enjoy benefits of sharing life in an intimate context (even if not sleeping in the same house) daily, without being intimately committed into marriage? Of, I know where.

  • Christlike,

    I wouldn't read into it too much.  I doubt that Denise would openly say what she said on a Christian forum unless she was acting honorably.  If she was staying at her boyfriend's parents house for instance with them (obviously in separate rooms) I see nothing scandalous about that.

  • Denise, I think you should enjoy this summer, do exactly whatever it is you want to do, and not feel guilty about having the freedom to do so!  Like you said, you may never have another summer like this one!  Consider it a gift from God, who knows exactly what you need in this season of your life.    

    I teach college, so I have nearly a full three-month summer break every year.  I travel, take care of things around the house that I've put off, visit and care for my grandmother, spend time with friends and family, etc.  This summer, I'm doing a bit of freelance work as well.  I also know that on a specific date, I start the madness of the next school year all over again, though, so I allow myself to take time to rest and recharge.    

  • Hi, guys!

    Thanks for the observations and suggestions!

    @James79, Tamera was correct. I don't have a work visa, so I can't get a job in Canada right now! I'm doing freelance work with companies I've worked with before in the States. That's how I'm supporting myself this summer. So I have work to do, just not as much as I've had with freelancing AND grad school the last few years. I definitely understand where you're coming from with the unemployment angle. I was laid off in 2008 (back when everyone was getting laid off), and it was stressful. This is a bit different. I've chosen to come up to Canada for the summer, and I still have some work to do.

    @Christlike, thanks for your concern -- I'll clarify. No, I'm not living with my boyfriend. He owns a place and has a roommate. I am living in a house with two other girls for the summer, about 10 minutes away from where he's at. As far as I'm aware of we're not sharing any benefits we shouldn't be. :-) My boyfriend and I have never lived in the same spot because we are from different countries. We've dated long distance, and this summer we wanted to be in the same city for a bit! You can read the other blog post I linked to for more about our long-distance relationship.

    This summer is definitely a unique experience, and I knew it would be! I knew I wouldn't have a job right away in Canada, and that I'd have more free time than I'm used to. I'm guessing things will get a bit more structured as I discover what the city has to offer and set a bit of a loose schedule for myself. So far, it's been nice to relax after 150 pages of thesis writing! :-)

  • Denise,

    thank you for your clarification. Still, in Europe, such things are not usual - to go for holidays to live in a town where you know no one except your boyfriend, who lives with his roommate.

    the point is...you don't have your family and friends there, he only has his friends (if he has any in this town where he works), I doubt the church can take the spiritual supervision on you two...and there is a degree of liberty and intimacy and much time spent together without any spiritual authority over you....that easily can get difficult to handle.

    I know you are 30 something.....but honestly I wouldn't have moved into another country for vacation into a foreign place just for my boyfriend -only for my husband. I know long distance rel are hard, but honestly this does not seem to be a solution, on the contrary it seems it opens the possibility to more difficult temptations to resist (physical and emotional intimacy).

    I apologize if I offended you - no intention to do that.

    I guess american christian mentality is more liberal than evangelical baptist mentality in Europe.

  • Christlike - I think what Denise is doing is actually quite wise.  She's visiting her boyfriend's community and getting to see him in a day to day sense, rather than a "romantic weekend" sense. (That's the problem of long-distance relationships, every time you see each other, it's a Big Event and not like real life.)  

    This is their chance to get to know each other in their quiet times too.  And being an 'older' couple, I don't think your concerns about spiritual supervision are warranted here - I would presume he's involved in his local church and has mentors/friends who will look out for Denise as well.

    I admit, I'm particularly fascinated because I am also in a long-distance, cross-border relationship and have been wondering how my BF and I can get to know each other 'in the quiet times' since we both work full-time and have not yet known each other long enough to pick up and move countries/jobs.  But we both know that we're hoping the relationship becomes a marriage and I would suspect that's Denise's situation too.  

    This is why this opportunity for her to spend time in his town is so important!

  • I also have trouble knowing what to do when I have a lot of time off. After a week, I go stir-crazy. I think trying to get involved with volunteer work helps. Fortunately I am in summer school now, so I at least have something to do, even though only one class doesn't take too much time. It is hard to make friends in a new city, but I am trying to get connected with a church.

    Having accountability partners and mentors is very important, and I have a mentor myself, but I would be very careful about accepting "spiritual supervision" and "spiritual authority," because so many people have suffered terrible spiritual abuse from cult-like churches. Accountability is good; infantilization and control freaks are not.        

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