My best friend asked me this morning “How are you?”, as she does every morning. My response to her today was “Tired… so tired I could cry”. I have had a long couple of weeks and physically, mentally and emotionally, I am drained. There has only been one other time in my life that I’ve felt this depleted and it is as miserable as I remember it.
As adults and parents we find energy to do everything and take care of everyone, but so often what we neglect is the most important person in our lives, ourselves. It is so easy for me to put myself to the side for my child, to do ministry, to get up and go when someone says they need me, to give my best at work, to take on extra work or side jobs. I have this will to keep moving, keep pushing, and keep doing for the sake of others; but I somehow lack the will and ability to slow down for the sake of myself.
There has only been one other time in my life that I’ve felt this depleted and it is as miserable as I remember it.
As my friend began to encourage me to take a break, I responded by telling her all the things that I had to do. I went on and on about who/what needed me and I spoke of everyone and everything but me. I’ve noticed that the “selfless” ones do that a lot. We even go so far as to say we have to do it because that’s what God wants from us. Yes, God wants us to do ministry, to take care of our families, to help others; but nowhere in His word does He direct us to neglect ourselves.
I began to think about our number one example in life and in ministry, Jesus. If anyone can relate to having a hectic schedule and a lot of people who depend on him, it would be Him! Yet, there are so many references in the Bible where He would steal away time to himself to pray and have discussions with God.
In Matthew 14 after performing the miracle of feeding a multitude with 2 fish and 5 loaves of bread, verse 23 says ”After He had sent the crowds away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray; and when it was evening, He was there alone”. After spending the Sabbath teaching and healing a man’s hand, Luke 6:12 says “Now it came to pass in those days that [Jesus] went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God”. And we all know the familiar story from Matthew 26 when Jesus was praying in the garden of Gethsemane just before he was crucified; “…and [He] prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’” Matthew 26:39.
We carve out the time to do anything and everything for everybody because we don’t want to let people down or leave them hanging.
Jesus was the epitome of selflessness. He spent His entire life in service and dedication to others. He embodied ministry at all times. Yet, He always took the time to be alone with God to replenish Himself physically and spiritually and also, sometimes, to pour out to God (or vent).
I realize the most efficient way for me to help others is to be my best me, and that requires that I be intentional about tending to my own needs. Now this doesn’t mean be selfish, however, when we carve out the time to do anything and everything for everybody because we don’t want to let people down or leave them hanging, and neglect ourselves, we are actually operating in pride. Proverbs 23:4 states “Don’t wear yourself out trying to get rich. Be wise enough to know when to quit.” Like all things in the bible this applies to numerous situations in our lives. You have to be wise enough to know when to quit, when to take a break, and when to sit down with God and reassess your work to make sure you are on the right track.
Unlike Jesus, we are not always sure in our calling. As humans we normally make the mistake of doing things in our own will; constantly forgetting to lean on God for wisdom, understanding, direction, and strength. Remember, you are no good to anyone in a state of exhaustion. So please dear, go get some rest…
I love you on purpose.