"In quietness and rest shall be your strength." Isaiah 30:15
Have you ever had a child who, late in the evening, started going ballistic over seemingly nothing at all? Then a fit of loud wailing began, and then suddenly, in almost a moment, said child almost passed out in deep sleep?! Then you realized, "Oh, she (or he) was just exhausted and needed to go to sleep." You promised yourself that next time you would be more aware of the signs and vigilant to put the child to bed earlier.
Well, slowly, I am learning to read my own signs. Each of us has our own puzzle. Mine is very different from most because of our ministry, travel and writing, added to the other piles of responsibility of taking care of my family. Very few friends I know live my kind of life, or my puzzle, so I cannot compare or live under the same standards as them.
I am not feeling so strong lately. My spirit is more likely to complain. My body is a little bit more than tired. My perspective is cloudy. From many years of living through various seasons, I am learning to monitor myself when signals suggest I have been overloaded for too long. Just like the baby in the above example, God has allowed our bodies to speak to us.
Instead of worrying about my spiritual life, or living in self-condemnation, or pondering deep things, I am more likely to look at my physical needs, and then I realize--I need to take some sabbatical days soon!
Recently, somewhere, deep in the night hours, cuddled up under my covers, much to my sweet relief, I awakened and it seemed there was a smile in my soul---almost like I was a little girl again, free of the burden of responsibilities, light as a cloud, smiling in the soft warmth of my covers with a sense of excitement, "all is well and good things are awaiting" sort of feeling. A pleasant feeling emerged from my heart: "I am resting, living in peace, restoring, and it is good."
So often, we give and give and give and then wonder why we become grumpy or short in patience. But God has put rhythms into our lives to remind us just how much we need our bodies to go completely away from the stress of normal days in order to better cope with the demands of life.
The day has a cycle about it--so many hours of light and darkness. In the light we can see to read, to work, to be active--but darkness was (and is!) meant to be a signal of closing off the day and its duties.
Sabbath was also instigated by God to remind us to stop, to put aside work, to cease from frenzy, to rest and cultivate peace.
In our 24/7 world, with false lights to keep us up and working all hours of the day, 24 hours of internet, 24 hours of TV, cars with lights that can travel all hours, etc., we lose the concept of rest and refreshing.
No wonder there are so many stress diseases--heart, obesity, thyroid problems, nervous disorders, depression, mental disorders, and emotional disorders. We are busy all the time, guilty for all we do not get done and wearing ourselves out. I realized many years ago that I was becoming very ill from so much push, push and work, work, work. I also realized that no one else was going to take responsibility for my health and well-being but me.
One of the reasons moms yell at their children is that they never get a break. Grumpiness and anger comes from pushing, pushing, pushing.
An hour of rest and getting away was a regular rhythm in our home. Every afternoon, I put a pot of tea on to boil and poured out cups of tea, or little sippy cups of juice or whatever seemed good, and everyone learned by training to go to their "places" for a personal time. I could not have done without my hour of peace each day. I trained my children to it early, and it gave me the ability to have a one woman tea time.
I also committed to Sabbath rest on Sundays--closed all of my "work" on Saturday and did not pick it up until Monday. It was all still there when I got back to it, but the world did not fall apart when I did not work on Sunday--but, I was much more able to keep up the demands of my life when I took off and made Sunday a day of worship, rest, pleasure, fun, and naps for me.
Work and travel chases me every day, demanding my life's blood. I have to rule over this force that would overcome me.
Stop. Put it all aside. Rest.
My mind needs it, my body needs it, my spirit needs it. As a woman who is attempting to grow in maturity in the Lord, I have had to be intentional about being sure that I include rest, refueling, restoration and inspiration into my own personal life-not just once in a while, but regularly so that I can keep going and going and going.
When I stop, my soul smiles a little more. This week, join me in finding your own smile!