Don’t be alarmed if this blog is a little quiet over the next month. This time next week we will be on our summer holidays, heading back to the Rock for a little rest and relaxation. And fishing. In the totality of my life working fulltime, I don’t think I’ve ever been more eager for some down time. The truth is I am very tired as I get to this summer, and it is entirely my own fault. I feel like I learned a lot about rest this year and as I go into a summer more tired than I should be I’d like to share with you what God has shown me about our need to rest:
1. Grief is tiring
I was grieving this year, and I often did not allow myself the rest to grieve. Grief is tiring. That’s all there is to it. If you are entering a season of grief, would you be easy on yourself? Expect to do a little less than you used to and don’t feel bad about it. Your emotions and your body are dealing with more than they usually do. And you know? Being busy may seem like a great way to distract yourself – but it doesn’t work. In the end, the grief still comes and you are so tired and overwhelmed that it only hits all the harder.
2. Time away from work does not mean you have rested
We are really blessed that our church gives us five weeks vacation, and I was especially grateful last year that on top of that my church gave me three weeks compassionate leave when my sister died. I can never say enough how thankful I am. However, this also meant that I spent all of last year saying “I shouldn’t be tired! I had eight weeks off last year!” But I didn’t have eight weeks of rest. I had two weeks of sitting with my sister in her house during her final days, three weeks of journeying through her death, her funeral and the days that followed, and then two weeks of being in the hospital when my nephews and my father had an accident. (Dallas and I are grateful that we had a few days in November that were truly refreshing). I’m not saying I should have had more time off from work than this. I am saying that I needed to be easier on myself and remember that those times away from my paid job were still a lot of work and not take too much on my plate once I returned.
I know a lot of you are in the same boat. Your “vacations” are spent getting your house ready to sell or caring for aging parents or looking after needs of your struggling children. When you get back to “work,” be kind to yourself and remember that your mind may tell you you’ve had a vacation – but your body probably knows when that is not really true.
3. Be willing to say “no” to good things
This year I was offered some really amazing opportunities to be involved in ministries and my community. Each of these were things that I really wanted to do and that were important to me. But I said “yes” to too many things in a season when I needed to say “no.” (See above statements). I started new ministries at church. I supervised a student. I was part of a Journey Group. I helped facilitate a group at our Seminary. I sat on a committee that would make recommendations regarding school closures in my community. I spoke at a number of events. They were all great experiences – but there were too many. And I was tired.
So this year I have committed to do things differently. Here it is, and perhaps you can benefit from these lessons, too:
1. Be intentional about rest.
On my days off I will turn off my computer and refrain from checking my phone. I will do things that renew my Spirit, and remember God is in control so I don’t have to worry the world is going to fall apart while I chill out a bit.
2. Say “no” more.
I apologize already for any of you that I may offend when I say no to your great opportunity. Just remember: It’s not you – it’s me.
3. Be strategic about what’s most important
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to still do things (Please don’t stop asking!). I just need to think strategically about what matters most to me and where I feel God wants me. I have already made some changes going into this fall. I decided I could do ONE thing for my Seminary, so I am facilitating a group, but not a student, for this year. I picked the group because it really teaches me a lot and I truly enjoy it. I will continue to be involved in my son’s Parent Council at school – I love being involved in his school – but I will focus on those things that are best for my gift set. (And I will never ever ever ever sit on an Accommodation Review Committee again!). I am spending this summer setting my goals for the new year, so that I can be sure I get to spend time on the things at our church that are really most important. And I will pray and give myself 24 hours (at least!) before I say yes to anything I am asked to join, lead, facilitate or speak at. (Yes, I should have learned this one already by now).
4. I will be guilt free about the following…
Eating out or ordering in when I need a break from cooking.
Not having my house look immaculate when people come over (though those of you that come over have probably noticed that I’m already pretty good at this one).
Saying “Can we meet at your house or go out?” instead of “I’ll host!” when I need to.
Not checking my phone after a certain hour.
Going to bed at 9:00 and watching Netflix.
Not updating our blog for a month while I’m on vacation.
See you in a few weeks friends!
I wish you a summer with rest.