With Labor Day around the corner, I got to thinking about the word labor and what it means. The idea behind Labor Day originally comes from labor unions, who proposed the holiday for the purpose of celebrating their hardworking members and providing a well-deserved break. Although the idea was first introduced in September of 1882, it wasn’t until June 28th, 1894 that Labor Day was finally approved as a federal legal holiday on the first Monday of September. The rest is, well… history!
In anticipation of Labor Day, I found myself contemplating the definition of the word labor. It actually has four definitions according to Merriam Webster (there are more, but I will only comment on a few for the sake of brevity). What I discovered is that every definition involves an element of love.
Labor (/ˈlā-bər/) verb
1 : to exert one’s powers of body or mind especially with painful or strenuous effort
2 : to move with great effort
3 : to suffer from some disadvantage or distress
4 : to be in labor of giving birth
As a writer, the concept of labor is quite a familiar one. If you’ve ever put pen to paper in an attempt to author a piece of work, I don’t have to tell you: writing is indeed a tremendous labor of love. An author gives birth to a new creation! So many expressions in the writing world center around the word work; you’ve got your WIP (work in progress); there’s the working story, and even when you’re finished, your manuscript is referred to as a body of work. From every angle, writing involves labor in the form of researching information, writing, revising (numerous times), researching editors, querying agents, submitting drafts… (rinse & repeat, ad nauseam). This writing thing is indeed laborious, and you’ve really gotta love it in order to get your work out there.
This idea is indeed paralleled by our everyday lives; all of us labor daily in one way or another. Perhaps, you commute to and from your workplace or worksite (braving traffic, weather, & construction), where you put in several hours of hard work to earn a living and support yourself and your family. Maybe instead, you work remotely to do the same thing, but trade the tedious commute for juggling household responsibilities and childcare between meetings. Or, you may have chosen to work as a stay-at-home parent, where you care for the children you love dearly (but who—let’s be honest—render you exhausted by day’s end). Regardless of your unique situation, each requires that you exert your powers of body and mind with considerable effort. No matter whether you leave the house for a job, work remotely, are in the midst of raising a family, or something else entirely—your labor too, is a labor of love.
Finally, I look to the birth, life, death, and resurrection of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as the most profound labor of love! I honestly can’t even hear the phrase without thinking about the distress that Jesus endured. He did all the work for me. As God himself, He went through the labor of childbirth, lived a life of extreme love, and ultimately labored the cross in sacrificial love! He bore my sins (of which there are a plenty) in the most complete, pure, and undeniable labor of love ever to occur.
“No greater love is there than this, than to lay down one’s life for a friend.” John 15:13
This Labor Day, I choose to celebrate love, the lifeblood of all labor and the greatest motivator of all. Happy Labor Day to you all—thank you for your hard work!