It took a trip to my hairdresser (and friend), to bring me to my senses.
I should know this stuff, I’m in my mid-***ties after all, but I slip into the same thing over and over again. The same old thing. I’ve written about it multiple times. Doing everything and feeling overwhelmed and tired. Feeling like I’m putting off things I’d like to do all the time, because maybe they don’t matter anyway. For a few weeks I found myself droning on to friends about how I’m so busy, and how I haven’t had time to blog or do anything else. I scroll through social media and get annoyed when I see other people posting their art and craft creations, or blog posts, or even events they’re attending. How do they have time for creativity and a social life?
My thoughts go something like this, ‘Lucky for them. They have time to do stuff like that. Here I am serving the Lord, sacrificing the time I could be spending doing the other things I’d like to do. Any time I do have free I end up doing the groceries, or cleaning the house, when I just want to sit down and write. It’s not fair.’
Similar ugly, prideful thoughts went through my head as I swept leaves in the back yard on a Saturday afternoon and no one wanted to help. I resented what I perceived as their poor valuation of my time, not to mention feeling miserable about them not wanting to spend time with me. Maybe some of this is justified. On reflection I think my husband could complain much more than me on both these points, he gives so much more.
I ask God to show me what my priorities are. I try to work out in my head how to work and do everything else, how to serve everyone best and get all the things done. There are so many demands it seems. Let me make myself clear, a lot of the things I’m involved in are what I feel called to do. They are good things. One thing we’re part of is the team starting Kids Club here, and it is great fun! We’re seeing answered prayers and the start of something exciting for our city. It is humbling to be a part of it.
At the same time at home we’re probably going through the most challenging time since we’ve moved to Canada in terms of getting by, and we’ve flung a puppy into the mix too. All the stress and activity led to me collapsing in front of the TV at the end of an evening or escaping into social media. Both of those often leave me drained, depressed and restless.
Here’s the point. Although I’m busy, I do have time. Sometimes I feel so busy I get overwhelmed and just switch off, seek escape, rather than seek out what is going to recharge my batteries. Everyone needs a hairdresser like Leah to point this out! The next day when I had a little time I put aside some of the chores, found a sermon from Newday (yes, I find theology refreshing and I like to hear people’s stories, and I highly recommend Francis Chan) to listen to while I stuck a dress pattern together I’d printed from the internet about five weeks before. I felt my mind start to ease. It was only a forty-five minute break, but it made a difference. My mood lifted.
I’m forever realizing no one else is going to give me the time to write or bake or do the things which help me recharge, nor should I expect them to. I have to carve out the space for these, to grab the opportunities to refresh rather than overload and crumble. Having said this I’m aware I need to let people around me have the chance to do the same – especially my husband.
So there you have it, a little lesson in self-care and taking time out, but it doesn’t end there. The point of recharging is to carry on, to go out and serve, to give again. The point is not self-indulgence. Doing fun activities helps, but if I’m not drawing from the well of the Holy Spirit my serving and doing is going to carry on running on empty, the benefit of time out forgotten. My ultimate self-care tip is to spend time seeking God’s presence, to not let all the doing or even the time out push Him to the side. Most of all this shifts focus from self to where it should be – on Jesus. It stops me relying on my own efforts. Every part of my life needs to draw strength from Him in order to give out.
Even Jesus retreated to pray in the middle of His ministry. Good enough reason for me to follow His example.
Doing everything is really not an option, it’s not possible. I have to accept this otherwise I will go insane or burn out. Neglecting what God’s called me to do isn’t an option either. Wisdom is distinguishing between the things I put on myself and the things God asks of me, the things I need to make room for. I know when I’m doing what He’s asked me to, His purpose carries me through the challenges. It changes my attitude. My focus is where it should be and the work involved is not a drudge, but a joy.
Anyone want to rake some leaves?