Christian Living

Taking Breaks Isn’t For Wusses

I love when something happens that highlights how far I’ve come. It doesn’t happen super often, but every once in a while, I’ll realize what a 180 I’ve done. Every time I watch the Descendants movies, it reminds me how hard it is to move from one world into another.

Growing up, I learned that taking breaks is for wusses. Successful people push themselves until they’re running on empty, and if you can’t handle the heat, then get out of the kitchen. Think that’s enough metaphors? But seriously, until I got sick seven and a half years ago, I lived that. And it meant I had loads of shame once I got sick and couldn’t be a “contributing member of society.” To me, contributing meant giving 110% to every task in front of me.

This week we did a podcast on how taking breaks isn’t for wusses. Taking breaks is a tangible way to surrender to God. He’s the one who proscribed weekly Sabbaths and daily sleeping enough (Ps. 127:2) and yearly festivals. It’s not easy to stop doing–it forces us to trust instead, to believe that God can pick up the slack in our families, our jobs, our goals, etc., etc. I’m far more likely to want to keep at it day and night. As I said on our show, I have to re-surrender about every 20 minutes on my Sabbath because I keep thinking of things that need done.

Taking breaks gives us mental and emotional room to be more effective the rest of the time. For example, sleep-deprivation acts like alcohol–it slows our reflexes, lowers our critical thinking, and impairs judgment. As a society, we often tout our lack of sleep as some kind of badge of honor, but all we’re really saying is that we’re careless with our lives. We’re trading staying up late for being effective and efficient for the next day.

We’re also giving up change in our lives for the pleasure of having a wall-to-wall schedule. I think that fact more than any other has prompted me to prioritize margin in my schedule. It’s like with plants–if you don’t give them enough room to grow, they don’t thrive. We need room in our schedules in order to thrive. Without it, we’ll be miserable and we’ll stay the same miserable people as long as our schedule continues. Without room to process what we’ve learned, to learn new things, to have conversations and relationships, to sit with Jesus, to read, and to think, we can’t grow. One of my worst fears is that I will be the same person 20 years from now as I am today. I can’t imagine carrying the same amount of baggage for decades. It makes me tired just thinking about it!

So! Challenge: Surrendering your time takes actually doing something. It’s not a faith without works deal. For me, surrendering my time means kneeling in the morning and praying over my schedule, taking a Sabbath, and I’m working on going to bed on time. If you already do all those, way to go! If not, pick one and start adding it to your schedule. If you’d like a little public accountability, write which one you’re going to do in a comment.

Taking Breaks Is Not For Wusses-2

 

 

Christian Living

Camp & To-do Lists

My kids are at camp this week. It’s been weird. You parents out there will understand when I say I almost don’t know what to do with myself 🙂 It’s the first time we’ve gone this long without seeing them and having so much time to ourselves is just plain weird. Fun! But weird.

Being out of my normal routine has definitely thrown my body for a loop so I’m sleep deprived. I don’t know if it’s the stress of trying to get a ton of things done while the kids are gone or what. For some reason, I had visions of hours of extra time–practically adding up to entire days of being able to work on projects and still go on dates with my husband. I forgot that we still have to eat, the dishes still have to be done, and I still need to do my regular self-health things like doing my quiet time every day and Tapping every day, etc., etc.

Basically, I had a to-do list that was a mile long and I still haven’t gotten through it even with my kids gone.

I was complaining to God about the situation when it hit me that I put way too much emphasis on my to-do list. I’ve actually gotten significantly better at to-do lists over the past year (thanks to JB Glossinger’s Sacred Six). I often complete my to-do list for the day. Things don’t fall through the cracks as much as they used to. And I don’t freak out as much if something doesn’t get done.

I think it’s that whole having extra time that’s been throwing me. I put all this emphasis on completing things this week. My husband and I are in the midst of starting a podcast and we’ve been trying to finish up our website and random other details. This week seemed like an ideal time to get them done. It’s hard to do though when we only have one functional computer.

Anyway! I was thinking about how I use my to-do list sometimes. Maybe you can relate. When I get stressed, I clamp down on the things I can control–housecleaning, what I eat, my to-do list, etc.–as a way to handle the stress of the things I can’t control. It’s funny how the more in control I try to be, the more out of control I feel. Have you ever experienced that?

I was raised to believe that getting things done was the epitome of success. Having a completed task list was this unattainable goal that I always thought would make me feel confident and at peace. But now that I’ve had several months’ worth of lists that are completed, I’m realizing it’s just a list. It’s just a tool, not a measurement. It’s similar to when our house first started being consistently clean. I thought it would lower our stress levels (and it did). I thought it would add to my peace but that never happened.

Peace comes from submission, from the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives. It doesn’t come from our circumstances–clean houses, to-do lists, financial security, resolved relational conflicts, etc., etc. It’s God’s work in our lives that brings peace. It’s submission to God’s way of doing things–building where He builds (Ps. 127:1-2). Calm circumstances are nice but, like Elsa in Frozen, we bring our own storms with us. Only God can calm the inside.

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The Present

Recently, we had a guest speaker at church who talked about time, specifically, the present. He said some things that really struck me. The present is the moment God is working in. He’s already worked in the past, and will work in the future, but this is the moment when I can see His hand at work. In this moment, the destinies of everyone alive are being wrought. In this moment, God is changing me. I’m so often looking to the future. I plan for what I need to get done today, tomorrow, next week, in five years—and I’m not saying those plans are unimportant. We should be wise with our time, whilst holding our plans with an open hand. But the now is where God is at work and I miss that being so future-oriented. Live in the now. The now is when God is strengthening my soul and working out His calling in me.

The speaker also talked about how we have time for all God has called us to do. We always have enough time. I don’t know about you, but I am a woman of lists. Lists that never get finished. Lists of tasks I am always juggling, fighting to accomplish. And frankly, I never complete my list. Even if my goal is just to spend time with Jesus, take care of my kids, teach them, clean my house, and get everyone meals today (let alone work on my book). It never seems to happen. There’s always something that gives. I’m trying to learn better methods of organization and better shortcuts in the tasks themselves, but still, I think I will probably just add new tasks to my lists once I have space. We are a society of people who do too much.

My husband is currently reading a book about a man God called out of the Eskimos to reach his own people. He related one particular incident that brought me up short. This man loved to spend daily time with the Lord, but then at the same time, he was a member of the tribe and had duties—one of which was to hunt. One day, early on in his relationship with God, his mother told him she would need a rabbit from him that day. It was in winter and rabbits were scarce so the young man thought he wouldn’t have time to commune with God by the time he’d finished hunting down a rabbit. However, moments into his hunt, a rabbit presented itself to him on the path and remained still until the eskimo could get close enough to shoot the rabbit. This left him free to commune with God during his remaining time. He realized God had sent the rabbit. God had provided extra time so the eskimo could be with Him. And over and over this happened to the eskimo.

It was very convicting to hear this story. I don’t know if I have ever asked, or expected, God to smooth my daily tasks. I just slog my way through the mundane things, expecting them to eat up my time. But what if I asked God to speed my way through those things so that I had extra time to spend with Him and with my family? Maybe my to-do list wouldn’t be quite so impossible.

Then again, maybe my to-do list just includes some things that aren’t on God’s to-do list. I’ve found myself praying lately that God will provide supernatural wisdom to prioritize my list so that I can pitch all the things that aren’t on His, and supernatural flexibility so that I can reorder my day according to His plan. Because maybe, just maybe He wants to do something amazing in the now, and I’m missing what’s right under my nose because I’m so focused on my future tasks.