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Note: According to the American Institute of Stress, work-related agitation is the major source of stress for American adults (although it is certainly not a uniquely American problem). In addition to common stressors like coworker issues and workload, many of us struggle with the stress of having to fulfill a less-than-satisfying work role in order to live more or less check-to-check. We sometimes feel like we lose our identities, our spirituality, and our dreams in order to serve the mundane reality that work promotes. It is the author’s hope that this message helps the stressed worker find spiritual peace and the energy to pursue a more fulfilling future.  Please share this meditation with anyone you know who is fatigued from the workplace or struggling professionally.




Copyright 2016 Michael Priebe

A one-step deficit each day moves us awkwardly in the opposite direction of our goals, but more often we're floating alongside some vague idea of our goals and feeling comfortable. Many times we're actually taking two steps forward and two steps back each day.

Yet I am confident I will see the LORD’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13 NLT

He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:3-4 NASB

Sideways living could be defined as an existence that gives the illusion of true progress when there really isn’t much being made. For example, we might be living sideways financially when we have a good salary at work but spend all of our checks on eating out and on other frivolities that keep us in debt. Or we might be living sideways nutritionally if we diet five days a week only to spend the weekends eating and drinking in a way that brings us back to square one of our fitness goals.


In our love lives, sideways living might be on display when we work hard to successfully maintain an ultimately harmful relationship, and in our professional lives, sideways living might be attaining job stability in a profession that offers us no chance of doing what we really want to do with our lives. Moving two steps forward and two steps backward every week can feel okay for a long time—until it doesn’t anymore.


Discomfort often prompts people to make positive changes in their lives, but what about when life feels more or less comfortable? Therein lies the great problem with sideways living: it often feels as if we’re doing okay when we’re not, so we aren’t always compelled to try new things. Sideways living can feel like a warm blanket that always protects us, but make no mistake about it, sooner or later living without true progress will wear too thin to keep anyone truly comfortable anymore.


It can be especially easy to survive on the illusion of progress when it comes to our spiritual lives. Good church attendance might temporarily mask a lack of true communication with God, and busying ourselves with memorizing Scripture might temporarily cover a lack of trying to really understand what it was that Jesus said to us. However, in order to experience the benefits of an authentic spiritual life, we eventually have to take risks and step out of our comfort zones. We have to truly seek God and really speak with Him—even if it feels lonely or unfamiliar at first—because only then can we start to truly know the forward path He offers us.


If we want to make true progress in our lives, we eventually have to pick sides on some issues and decide what is truly important to us. We eventually have to devote ourselves to our passions while resolving to ignore the dissenting opinions of those around us. We have to recognize when we are stuck in any rut of sideways living, and we have to redefine our goals and get moving forward in a true fashion.


Today, pray for the wisdom to recognize and break through sideways living in all aspects of your life. Whether your sideways living involves your professional life or some other aspect of your happiness such as fitness, financial, relational, or spiritual goals, know that a little sacrifice might be needed to break through whatever safety blankets are holding you back. Know that when things feel unfamiliar and uncomfortable, God will be there to protect and reassure you. When you truly seek Him out, you can be confident that He will bless you with true progress.

Prayer: Dear God, I want to live passionately and see true progress in my life, so today I step fully into a relationship with You. I ask that You would guide me spiritually and in all aspects of my life.

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