An Integrated Life

One of my core convictions in Jesus is that we’re to live integrated lives. And by that I mean lives that aren’t separated, that aren’t compartmentalized. And as best as I can tell, there was an entire generation (or two) that approached life as separate compartments on purpose. Work doesn’t interfere with home life. Home life doesn’t interfere with work life. Churchy stuff is only at churchy times and nowhere else.

elastic-bands-2229753_1920But I don’t buy it. Not at all. There are certainly times for things. There’s a time to go to work and a time to be at home. And there’s a time when there are pressing concerns in two different realms and a decision has to be made to prioritize one over the other.

But that’s not the same as placing dividing walls between components of our lives. I follow Jesus. That’s part of me no matter where I am or what I’m doing. I’m a husband: My wife doesn’t disappear for eight hours each day while I’m at the office. I’m a dad: I don’t stop being a dad when I walk out the door to commute to the office. I’m an employee: Just because I leave the office doesn’t mean that everything is done or that I won’t have other things to take care of.

Would it be easier if I could segment my life? Oh yeah–you bet it would. To only have to follow Jesus here and there? That’d be way easier. To only be at work or only be at home? That’d be nice.

But it’s a delusion. It’s much clearer when you look at my wife, a stay-at-home mom with ten kids she homeschools. Where are her compartments? When does she stop being a mom and start being a teacher or a wife or a servant to neighbors? When? Simple. She doesn’t. Life is one continuous loop, with a big blurry mess of all her responsibilities and spheres constantly overlapping.

If it sounds messy, it is. But I don’t see how it’s anything less than exactly the way God designed us to be. I feel like the compartmentalized life was just another effort to build our high places where we define what honoring the one true God looks like instead of letting him make that call. Cuz ya know–God.

I want my life to be integrated. One of the big reasons we homeschool our kids is to help them learn everything they learn in the context of family and home life. I want them to grow up seeing their spheres overlapping and crashing into each other. I want them to see the Spirit of Jesus as central to every breath, not just Sunday School and youth group.

I want that for my church, too. I want that for my neighbors. I want the kingdom life that says family and work and service and ministry and church and recreation are all part of the rubber band ball of life. I want moms and dads to teach the faith to their own kids. I want to serve Jesus just as much on Sunday as I do at the office as I do at the park with neighborhood kids. I want one life, centered on Jesus, filled with his Spirit, headed toward our one Father.

I suck at it, but it’s the goal.

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