Finding rest on the path of life.
I find that I am always giving out--giving my time, energy, money and life to my husband and children. Giving time to cleaning my house, preparing a Bible study and reaching out to young moms; keeping up with my boys, calling, helping, writing, emailing. Writing articles, traveling, speaking, counseling. Trying to keep up with my failing mother and writing her, calling her and visiting on the occasions when it is conducive to her life and mine. Meeting with friends. Taking my part in all the commitments our family has and having lots and lots of people into our home. Driving, driving, driving, cooking, cooking, cooking, cleaning, cleaning, cleaning......
You get the picture. There are times I feel that I am being consumed but not replenished. At my monthly Bible study this month, I asked the women what they were hoping for this summer and most all of them said, "To be refreshed, renewed in my vision, to get back to my center, etc."
What I have seen over my almost 57 years is that only the wise and diligent stay committed to their ideals. Many burn out. I have seen that if you become weary and exhausted, harshness and despair is a natural consequence. It really has little to do with spirituality. If a woman neglects her own body and mind and soul, and pours out, emptiness is a natural result.
A godly woman does not happen by accident--she is intentional. There must be a plan. Life is so busy that if I do not make a very specific plan, that applies to this season of life (all seasons have their own issues), then I will come out at the end of the summer even more spent than I am now. Consequences of being over extended are depression, confusion, willingness to listen to the wrong voices, looking for an immediate solution to present problems instead of trusting God, and giving up on ideals--marriage, friendship, church, children--giving them over to others to influence them instead of staying faithful to owning this responsibility.
Yet, one of the most important things I have learned is that no one else is going to initiate to me to tell me to slow down, to refuel, to get spiritual input. It is an evaluation I must make for myself. I must take the bull by the horns and manage my own life and my own stresses with wisdom and with a plan. This is part of being a wise woman--knowing and responding to your own limitations.
What to do? I will be writing some articles in the next days that specifically address these issues--and each of the areas I list. I have had to learn many of these things the hard way. But I have also sought the counsel of older, wiser, more experienced women and read and studied and prayed over these issues. I do not want to fall short of finishing the race that I started. I want to finish it with joy and resilience.
What we sow, we will reap. If we do not sow the seeds of wisdom and water, nurture and protect our priorities, then there will be a death to the garden of our souls. These essential priorities insure that we are growing in balance with God and man and purposes of life.
But it helps me to remember that choices have consequences. Sometimes bad consequences. So, if I stay diligent to see these core commitments as essential to my long-term productivity in my life, then I will fill my soul and body at the same rate as I am being depleted, and I will have enough strength to finish my race well.
1. Rest--God made it so that our bodies needed sleep every single day. He also commanded Sabbath rest.
2. Relationships--We were designed to be relational people. We need accountability, companionship, love, friendship, support, input, encouragement. In an isolationist world, we have the illusion that we can brave it on our own. In my own experience, the lone ranger Christian becomes an easy target for Satan.
3. Community of believers--We need to be a part of God's body--we need church. It is not an option, even if it is difficult to find one. In Hebrews, we are commanded not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together.
4. Regular time in the word. If we neglect time reading and studying God's word and praying, then we are cutting ourselves off from one of the means of grace that God intended for us to have every day--His strength, his voice, His solutions, His power, His comfort, His promises. You cannot be spiritual without investing in the spiritual.
5. Recreation--God created personality and laughter and desire and pleasure and drive. If we neglect beauty, pleasure, fun, celebrating life, enjoying his creation, we will cut off a part of His Holy Spirit's provision for us to flourish and believe in His goodness.
6. Productivity--work is a part of what can make us feel affirmed. We all have a need to feel that we are being productive in life, accomplishing purposeful, tangible tasks. If we feel useless and worthless, it mitigates against God's work in our lives.
7. Feeding our minds on truth. We need to fill our cups with the ideals, philosophies, stories, practical input that will undergird the commitments of our lives. Culture tells us that we deserve a break, it encourages our selfishness, it gives us the permission to give up on marriage, or caring for our responsibilities and children. We need to feed our minds on those areas that cultivate and nurture our ideals, so that we can be living and working from a corpus of truth.
8. Physical--Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit. However, if you abuse your body--don't sleep, drink healthy fluids, exercise, eat well--not too much sugar, fast foods, white flour, fats, you will not be able to function in the other areas. Stewardship of your body is a must if you want to sustain energy and health.
There are other priorities, but these are essential to good emotional, spiritual, mental and physical health.
I am taking time the next couple of days to evaluate my life in light of these areas to be sure that this summer, I am refueling, restoring and filling my soul with those things that will help me to continue to invest in those areas that ultimately bring delight and life--to keep me centered in the joy of my salvation and the love of my savior.