Killing myself is against the rules

rules-for-all    Here I am. Full circle. Eighteen months after a liver transplant saved my life I am in the process of going back to work full time. I have three options to consider; hard, harder and hardest. Of course, sticking with the normal pattern of my life, I am leaning strongly toward the hardest of the three options.

Last week Robin gave me the look she gives when she wants to convey just how serious she is and said, “You need to promise me that you are not going to kill yourself in this position.” Then, she made me make promises that I won’t work more than 40 hours a week, that I will take time off and that I won’t abandon healthy eating habits and exercise with the excuse of being too busy.

We’ve been together since 1982, two years of dating and 29 years of marriage. She knows me better than anyone else on the planet. She knows that sitting around drives me crazy. She knows I have to be planning, building, teaching and making a difference. But she also knows that I can drive myself into the ground.

When we started dating I was a full time college student and working at least 40 hours a week for a newspaper. I’d go to class during the day and then work at the paper until we put it to bed at 2 or 3 am. At that point, she saw that I wasn’t afraid to work hard. I imagine that was comforting to her at some level. Who wants to marry a slacker, right?

Then, when we were first married, she saw me volunteering as a youth pastor at a new church for no pay and working third shift for ServiceMaster Cleaning Company. I worked 20-30 hours a week with the teenagers and then 30-40 hours a week cleaning toilets, washing floors and shampooing carpets. My mom and dad taught me that no job was below me. I knew that providing for my family was my responsibility.

By the time our kids started making their arrivals I was on staff at a church doing what I loved and getting paid for it. It wasn’t enough to live on so I continued working a second part-time job while everyone slept or I would pick up photography jobs on the weekends. It was then that my health issues started and extra weight began moving in just above my belt.

I had one year when I traveled 26 weekends speaking at camps, retreats and conferences while working full time in a para-church ministry. That took a toll on our marriage and my health declined further. It was too much.

From 1999-2010 I slowed down and worked just one job. I was a youth pastor at a church I loved and Robin and the kids were involved with me. The first five years I was blessed with one of my favorite bosses ever, Dr. Arthur Evans Gay. Art refused to see his staff burn out. He routinely would send me home after a busy weekend or tell me to stay home after a week of camp. Art would ask me if I was dating my wife and showing her that she was my top priority.

But then, Art headed west and my workload increased again until my last few years when I was working 60+ hours a week doing a variety of things in a stressful setting.    My blood pressure was high, my weight reached 310 and my stress level was through the roof dealing with frequent challenges and people problems. I was unhappy. I was exhausted. I was sick.

And then, liver disease, a grueling year-long wait with 11 hospitalizations, the loss of most of our material treasures, transplant and recovery. It was a two and a half year journey to bring me to where I am now with an amazing, miraculous recovery and a chance to begin again.

This time, killing myself is against the rules. My wife knows me. She knows my work ethic and knows I cannot switch off my mind. She’s worried. Honestly? I’m a little worried too.

I’m open to your advice. What can a workaholic do to ensure balance? I am blessed to be fully restored. I am committed to taking this second chance and doing things differently.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Mt. 11:28-30 (The Message)

 

 

About Scott Linscott

Living life to the fullest, walking in the dust of my Rabbi, creating art through photography and written word, speaking words of hope and encouragement at conferences, workshops, church and civic gatherings.
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7 Responses to Killing myself is against the rules

  1. Nick Cantrell says:

    This was really insightful coach. I can relate to the added weight (lots of it) and health issues, not quite for the same reasons but similar… and I’m in my mid 20’s. I’ve been trying to balance school, volunteering for both a pro bono legal operation, and working in an advocacy position/group while staying attentive to my health and well being. The only problem is that the staying attentive to my health and well being has really taken a back seat to those other things. Looking at the problem from the outside in I feel like my issues are very self inflicted, as I have an inability to say no to people and I also self centered in the sense that some of the motivation in doing all the things that I do is to build and fill my ego. I am really happy that I read this and I am going to try and incorporate what I got from it into my day today. Thank you for sharing the your experience.

    • Nick,
      It is SO GOOD to hear from you! Beat it while you are young and you won’t repeat the mistakes so many of us have made. Book recommendation: 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Steven Covey.

      Scott

  2. Anonymous says:

    Scott , I am with Robin I know you and so know how you can over do. You are a hard worker and so blessed to have a job you so loved. You need to keep a picture with you when you were at your lowest. Also a picture of yourself right after your surgery. You always have to remember what you went thru. I know you think you will never forget what you went thru, and I can say we do Lessing the pain. I so want you to go on with your normal life, your new normal life. We have friends that have over done after transplant. So watch your step and enjoy and have fun. Love Aunt Betty

  3. JMK says:

    Scott, because of your straight-forward manner in your blogs, I feel like I know you personally. In fact, I may. But you don’t know me, so I hope none of this seems harsh…I’ll try and speak in the first person because what I’m about to say has been experienced; it’s not just theory, and I really don’t want to sound accusatory.
    I used to be overly proud of my work ethic, and that pride (being the root) yielded many of the same results in my family that you speak of in your post. I believe that making time for family and leisure for a workaholic is comparable in difficulty to not drinking for an alcoholic. It’s hard to say no, and I hate it (or at least the immediate emotions I feel). However, the peace and fulfillment that come later when I know I’m where God wants me and also in the right place for my family is often beyond words–ANNNNNND…even more satisfying than putting in a hard day or saying “yes” to anyone who asks. It REALLY STINKS to say no to work for the kingdom…but you’re really not if you’re glorifying Him in your marriage and family. The indirect effects of a Godly marriage on its surroundings are immeasurable. It has been a pleasure following your story from Kansas. Someone sent me your post about “Your Kid’s an All-Star” (or something like that) and I’ve been following you since. I hope your new course continues to glorify Him, satisfy you, and bring fulfillment to you and your family.

    • Good words indeed. I found that early on I was driven by perfectionism trying to win the approval of an alcoholic parent. (all too common) The dynamics of being an adult child of an alcoholic followed me into my ministry and took years to process, if they are ever fully processed. Thankfully we somehow always managed to put family first and I never let it interfere with being present for my kids, except for the painful stint on the speaking circuit. I remember walking away from one position because a senior pastor who was even more of a workaholic than I insisted on my attendance at an event. It conflicted with one our family times and our 7 year crisis earlier yielded a promise that family would come first. Of course, like you point out, God was faithful and rewarded that stance. Though I have taken family for granted far too many times and have not given my full intention, my transplant journey truly showed me that there is NOTHING more valuable than family and relationship. I pray I will continue to demonstrate that I learned that lesson but am fearful of falling back into those old patterns.

      I think you are right on about the pride issue. A part of me wants to say, “Hey, look at me! I work hard. Aren’t I wonderful?” But that’s junk. Thanks for reminding me of that, my friend!

  4. Janice Perry says:

    I’m thinking that our family’s wish and prayer is that you come to work at FBC….and “we” promise that we will be aware of your schedule…hours…commitment…family time, etc. We will promise to help you find the right balance and will remind you and call you on it when we think you’re overdoing it. ❤

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