Part 1 of a Three-Part series on Chronic Illness

Hello, my name is Melinda, and I’m a recovering workaholic.

We workaholics are broken people. We feel our worth is determined by how much we can produce, how quickly, and how excellent the content.

We don’t know how to quit multitasking. In fact, to slow down and focus on merely one thing at a time would seem lazy, shameful even. We always overcommit.

We are the go-to people. And we have a serious spiritual and psychological problem.

No one can earn God’s love. It is freely given and is based on nothing we have done (Ephesians 2:8-10). Yet we try to earn it, often to the point of making ourselves sick.

No one can ever achieve perfection. Yet we try. We seek love and approval as a reward for our excellence. But these needs can only be met by God  (1 John 3:1).

Caitlin BW Paul Li via Compfight

Thus, workaholics are usually filled with self-condemnation. We’re critical of ourselves and our work. We destroy ourselves with negative self-talk. We can never do or be enough.

It took me many years to recognize the spiritual and psychological weights that pressed me to not only work hard, but to never know when to quit. My need for excellence and task completion literally drove me to work until I dropped.

I began homeschooling in 1984. Home education requires a love of learning, self-starting, and a good work ethic. Follow through is essential year after year. The stakes are high. These are my children! I wanted to invest myself in them. This was my full-time career choice.

To round it all out, we spent hours each afternoon and evening driving to extra-curricular lessons and teams. I loved my job! I even bumped us up to classical education for the final eight years and wrote my own curriculum.

My workaholism was a good fit with homeschooling. We got it done! My six kids are intelligent, hardworking, and conscientious. They have excelled in college, flight school, grad school, and their chosen careers.

When our youngest graduated from high school in 2012, the next logical step would have been to rest, take stock of future goals, and reward myself for a job well done. This is what people do when they retire. The rest would have been well-deserved.

But remember, I’m broken. How could I rest? I didn’t know how.

at work Stefan Georgi via Compfight

Instead I overcommitted and worked even harder. In doing so, I set myself up for a physical collapse when I caught mono (Epstein Barr) in 2013.

Look at all I was doing in my “retirement,” and you can clearly see my brokenness:

  • I wrote the bible study material for the adults in my church, and it was beyond anything it needed to be (25 hrs. a week).
  • I wrote the youth bible study material as well, based on the adult study (10 hrs. a week).
  • I helped my husband with the administration of the small groups (5 hrs. weekly).
  • I led a small group (5 hrs. a week with prep).
  • I was a member of the church women’s leadership committee (5 hrs. a week).
  • I taught at the homeschool co-op where my children had participated (5 hrs. a week).
  • I was in seminary (10 hrs. a week).
  • I participated in prison ministry (6 hrs. a week, including prep).
  • I wrote fiction (20 hrs. a week).
  • I blogged twice weekly (15 hrs. a week).
  • I was also a wife, mother, and grandmother – my most important ministry.

Add that up. You get the picture. I was even busier than before! No wonder I never recovered when mononucleosis hit. And I did this to myself by not recognizing my own brokenness.

Thanks be to God that his mercy never ends. He completes our transformation, gives us discernment, and carries his good work to completion! (Philippians 1:6, 9-11).

Next – Part 2: Simple Rules Aren’t so Simple

In case you missed the occasional posts about the transformation from August 2013 to Springtime 2015, here are a few in summary: