Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Keepers at Home: The Importance of Resting Well

Hey ladies, we need to talk.  First of all, yes, the "Keepers at Home" series is back!  And I am re-kicking it off with a very serious topic for all you stay-at-homes (and even the working types out there).  Ready for it?  TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF!!!

Seriously.  There is mounting a din of information out there on this topic but I don't think any of us take it seriously until, as a friend recently put it, we "blow a gasket".  Suddenly all of that pouring out into others leaves us high and dry.  Not just mentally, emotionally, spiritually... but physically too. 

We look at the Proverbs 31 woman and we think we have a lot of catch-up to do.  Or we see the mommy volunteer at church touting baby #x, toddler, pre-schooler and so on, while she looks fabulous holding that perfectly frosted plate of cupcakes.  Or, Mrs. 'So-and-so' whose house is always spotless and husband invariably appears well cared for by her loving hands.  If these women can do it, so can we.  We just want to be all to all.  We think we are Superwomen, even if just in training.

Ladies... STOP.

Even the Proverbs 31 woman rested.  I recently heard a commentator state that her impressive list was actually accomplished over a lifetime (not one day).  I don't know about that, but what I do know is that she paced herself.  The loooong list we give ourselves to maintain is simply not realistic.

Don't get me wrong, I am 110% for being on our game.  For keeping up with all we are given to keep up with and putting our hearts into it.  Absolutely.  IF.

Yes, if.  IF you have the time and schedule.  IF it is the thing(s) God has called you to do.  So many of us get caught up in the river rapids of life, being swept away from next to next to next.  We don't take time to pause, breathe and make sure all the great stuff we are saying "yes" to is what God has on the slate for us right now.  We go...go....go...go and then you know what happens?  We crash.  And believe it or not, in more situations than many women realize, that crash comes as we are sitting in front of our doctor while he explains a pill regiment or surgical procedure or something un-anticipated because we haven't just taxed our time, we have also taxed our bodies.  We want to be Superwomen so bad, we forget the Source of our Power and the need to PAUSE.

But how do you get off the crazy train of life and rest well?  It's the hardest simplest thing actually.

#1 - Put God at the Center
Resting yourself without resting in the Lord could, potentially, produce selfishness.  One phrase I despise in our day and age is "Me Time".  I know the heart behind the statement but it has been hijacked by a me-centric society wanting to justify self-centeredness separate from God.  So first things first: start your day at the feet of the Lord. 

As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman 
named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, 
who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.  
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. 
She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me 
to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  
but few things are needed—or indeed only one. 
Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
- Luke 10:38-42
Pop quiz: who was commended in Jesus presence:  Mary or Martha?  Yes, Mary. Not to discredit Martha's hard work, but what did Mary do that was better?  That's right, she sat at Jesus' feet and listened.  But Martha was distracted. What does Jesus say Martha is "worried and upset" about?  Yup, many things.  Is any of this hitting a nerve yet?  Cause here is the zinger: What does Jesus say is needed?  Yes, "few" things... no, wait, make that ONLY ONE thing.  And what is needed most?  Correct, back to square one: sitting at Jesus' feet!

I absolutely do not feel like this passage says we shouldn't help others when hosting or work hard.  What I believe it is saying is that there is a time to sit at the feet of Jesus and soak up what he is saying to us.  We do this by opening our Bible each day and praying.  Really listening to the message we see in his Word, how to apply it to our lives and praying it over our lives and those around us.  Let us not be distracted from God's teaching.

If we have started our day in this way we have, first of all, sown the seeds of peace in our hearts and, secondly, set our sites on His direction.  This could mean a change or adjustment to plans ahead in the day which God ordains as better...or simply His strength to follow along the list of to-dos.

Also, as you are tempted to deny yourself moments, not just in the morning, but also throughout the day, to rest, remember: there are plenty of examples in the New Testament of Jesus taking a time of rest in the midst of others needing his help.  And here, with Martha, his message is to quiet ourselves, don't get so wrapped up and worried in the daily or momentary 'dos' that we forget to draw our strength and peace and guidance from the One who set that day in motion!

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; 
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

#2 - Schedule Margins
It's hard to rest if you haven't made the time.  After you have scheduled in your morning Bible and prayer time, the need for rest doesn't stop there....

You know that blue lined notebook paper with the red lined margins on the right and left sides of the page popping up in all the back-to-school sale ads right now? What are those red lines on the paper for?  That's right, margins.  What is the point of margins anyway?  SPACE, room to overflow if you have to.  Room to add quick notes and corrections.  Most of all, it makes the writing on the page easier to read and follow. 

Do you write from the very edge of your paper to the other edge? No, you contain it within those margins.... so why do we live life edge to edge?  Probably cupcake lady.  Probably this idea that everything needs to be just.right. even if we have to work to the edge of the paper to make it so.  But working to the edge of notebook paper looks so messy and, if we are honest, so do our lives when we apply this concept there. 

Leave room for living.  To breathe, to go for a walk, to just sit and listen or read or be read to.  One rule for margins: do NOT plan anything serious in that time... better yet, don't plan anything!

#3 - Plan to relax
Ok, so this runs side-by-side with margins and may seem to be almost counter-intuitive at this point, but read on.  While I don't recommend scheduling in the margins, if you are like me, you fear the unknown of un-scheduled time blocks!  As a matter of fact, my "un-scheduled" moments tend to get absorbed if I am not careful.

I don't schedule things to do inside my margins per-se, but I do have ideas of how I can spend them IF nothing else comes up.  Say my margin is the hour before bedtime.  I DON'T schedule chores or have-tos for that slot.  But I might say, 'I could read a magazine, a book, knit, draw, etc.'  As long as it is something I enjoy and relaxes me it can be done in the margin and it can be sorta-planned.  However, if you find your margins constantly hi-jacked (this is especially so with little kids in tow) by hi-octane non-relaxing tidbits, then PLAN an hour at the coffee shop or in another room while dad tends to kiddos for a bit, etc.

Hard truth:  we live in a day and age where planning or scheduling a time to relax is a necessity because if it is not planned or scheduled, it often times will not happen.

#4 - Accept that You are NOT Superwoman
Though I can bet you come close!  Yet, because we are striving so fast and so hard, hoping to please everyone all at once, we often feel guilty taking time to relax ourselves.  The call of life never sleeps for Superwoman.  But that is just it: there will always be SOMEthing that needs to be done.  Not because we are lazy or inefficient, rather, it is the simple constancy of life.  We do NOT have super-human powers to get to it all.

Do you mow the lawn once a year?  No, of course not.
Do you only do dishes on Tuesdays?  Not on your life.
Here's a harder one: If you go to bed leaving tasks undone or take a break or hour to decompress, will the world end?  Surprisingly no.  It keeps right on spinning.

A string of health problems, starting when I was in my early 20s, have led me to a point in life where doctors think I have Fibromyalsia.  I have great days and weeks full of energy... and I have bad ones.  Even on my good weeks I have become acutely aware of a need to pace myself, ask for help, and be OK with things (big and small) going undone.  It is shocking how life does continue on just fine even (and almost especially) when I schedule chores in nibbles instead of gobbles or break every hour for 15 minutes to relax and sometimes read.  My misconception that I had to get EVERYTHING done, all at once, at a break-neck speed has robbed me of so many hours of peace and instead only issued guilt every time I even considered being kinder to me and my body. 

Ladies, when we take care of ourselves, there is actually more of ourselves capable to take care of others.  I know, it doesn't make sense, but trust me, it is true. 

For me; I do have to say "NO" to certain activities I would love to do.  Every time I am tempted to say "YES" to great but not for me things, I am encouraged to remember how quickly it will wear me down and how temperamental I become when I am overtired and overworked.... with or without the added pain.   Consequently, some of that pain is the result of ignoring doctor's orders after a major surgery and pushing to hard too soon.  I had to get that area of the room tidied, I had to be the one to help with that school project... you get the idea.  And now I have permanent damage.

 Perhaps you are in GREAT health and ready to take on the world.... that's stupendous!  Still, don't take the good run for granted.  Start your day well with the Lord, keep margins at the beginning, middle and end of your day.  Schedule periods of restfulness at the very least, once a week, and at most, hinged on daily margins.  Give yourself permission to take time regularly to re-focus (in prayer) and re-energize (drink some water, have a healthy snack, read a book, etc) and then hit back into the day.

One last analogy came to mind, for anyone who knows anything about sports:  whether it is basketball, football, soccer or *fill in the blank... do even the best players stay in the game from beginning to end, non-stop?  No!  Why?  That's right, they begin to fumble and mess up.  They wear down and need a break.  All these sports have time-outs and half times and/or quarters where the team sits down, breathes and re-gathers.  Without those breaks, the team becomes in-effective and their game-play is shot.

I think we get the idea.  It's no joke.  I care about you all too much to keep these thoughts and experiences to myself.  Sound-off if you are realizing this too.  Comment below if you have some added advice for us Superwomen who want to take on the world!  And come back soon.  In a few weeks I will be posting about schedules in honor of the new school year swinging into action... even if you don't have school aged kiddos, I believe the article will take this concept of  resting well and put some action steps to it.

May you find the best rest at the feet of Jesus and find fuel for your day, throughout your day, with His light along your path.


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