As a pianist, some of my favorite compositions to play are sonatas. I want to share with you my six-day sonata. I learned (and am learning) some valuable lessons as I continue to recover and recalibrate. As I share with you, find the melody (or wisdom) you need to hear to flow with God in your daily life.
Six happy days of unplugging from work. Six days where I did not think about my to-do list, the commitments I made, or the work that awaited me when I returned. I had a great time attending a retreat, and I got to do something that was foreign to me: relax. I noticed that I rarely checked my phone or worried about what the next day would bring. I felt total peace, and I loved it! I was glad to return home to be with my husband and to mimic the balance I thought I mastered while taking a break. I did not realize that I still had some areas to grow in and boy have I been growing.
I have a type A personality (surprise!). This personality type, which is my sweet place of flowing, thrives by providing structure and cohesiveness to any area. As a leader, people come to me for perspective or to request my administrative skills to lead a project. I am known to say “Sure, I can do that!” or “Yes, I’ll be there!” Deep down inside I cringe because the struggle to maintain my values is lost by accepting an additional task. Even after experiencing six days of relaxation, I found myself getting into the grind of everyday life. Our corporate climate doesn’t provide opportunities for us to be still, to rest, or to take one moment at a time. Everything must be done now whether you are exhausted or not. Our ministerial climates frown upon the notion of taking a break because there is a harvest that needs our attention today. We must continue to build, we must continue to serve, and we must continue to give. “This is the way of Jesus,” we say while we are begrudgingly bringing in the sheaves. Our families mimic the same rush that we have adapted to as a way of life. Soccer games, ballet recitals, band concerts, and a plethora of activities that keep us on the go. We are moving forward and seemingly being efficient, but at our core we are hurting ourselves. We have to make a change much sooner rather than later, or it will lead to burnout.
I am reading a book entitled Mad Church Disease: Healing From Church Burnout by Anne Marie Miller. As I was thinking about our weekly conversations about being intentional and assessing our values, I encountered myself. One section that caused me to think discussed how our personality type could shape our experiences in a way that leads to burnout. For example, I have always been a mediator as a child. I was the person other people would come to find out how to deal with situations appropriately. I also helped to ease tense environments by being someone who is a peacekeeper. This characteristic is a blessing, but when I do not have a healthy balance, I find myself exhausted. When I am giving, and I am on empty, it is a challenge to get up every morning and seize the day. I’ve found myself in that space even after retreating, so it means that I need to reassess what’s important.
Remember the values I challenged you to determine last week in Healthy Values are Important to God. I had to review again and take an honest assessment. Anytime I do not work within the grace (or values) I have determined it is a recipe for disaster. Old habits fight back and question if we “really” heard that we need to rest. I listened to the call, and you are hearing it as well.
Maybe you started out strong as a result of walking through this journey with me, but you are returning to old habits.
Perhaps you are staying up late and not getting a good night’s rest.
Maybe you are worrying more frequently.
Perhaps you feel that “others need me” and you are excusing your need to rest in the process.
The reason we keep going isn’t that we are bad people. We don’t know how to acknowledge what we need. We’ve never seen how our personality encourages specific behaviors that can lead to fatigue.
This week, I am challenging you to take an honest look at where you are. Maybe you are like me, but you have allowed old habits to keep you from being consistent in embracing rest. Even Jesus provides reminders because he knows that in our humanity, we tend to repeat the same cycles and patterns until we realize it is not serving us best.
He assures us that there is an answer and as much as we might avoid it, the answer is rest.
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30, NIV).
I acknowledge that I need to keep letting God know where I am worn out and embrace His rest. He has a plan for what that rest and continual self-care might need to look like. It could be as simple as taking a daily nap or He may challenge you to walk away from an assignment for a season to focus on your healing. Whatever He says, it will be well worth it. We need you well, and we need you rested.
Questions of the Week:
Have you been following our discussions on resting? What wisdom have you applied to your personal life?
Have you noticed yourself going back to old habits of excusing rest? What part does your personality play in the equation (i.e., You enjoy helping people, but don’t know when to say “no”).
Spend some time with God and ask Him how He needs you to embrace His rest.
Commit to His prescription for rest and be sure to share if you complete the challenge.