“Taking care of yourself means taking care of more than just yourself.” Matthew McConaughey
92% of all New Years resolutions fail before February. Therefore, I do not make resolutions. Why set myself up for disappointment? And I fully admit that I am not capable of climbing into that top 8%, no matter how high my determination level is. I normally lose steam about the time the rest of the country does.
I do, however, believe in God’s ability to create lasting change in me for the better. The big word for this process is “sanctification.” Sanctification is a word that most Methodists are very familiar with, being that it is a huge part of our theology. Sanctification is the ongoing process God uses to produce lasting change in us – conforming us more and more to the image of Christ. Slowly but surely, He works through the Holy Spirit to change our hearts, our attitudes, our behaviors and our thoughts to be more like Jesus.
So instead of making resolutions that I labor under with my own power, I simply ask God what changes He would like to make in me, and then I ask Him to strengthen and encourage me through the process. Such was the case this time 12 months ago.
After a long period of prayer, reading, and asking God what He wanted to see change in my life, I received my answer. REST. Strange answer isn’t it?
“Are you sure, Lord?”
“You know I am on fire for You, isn’t there something epic you want me to run and do in your holy name?”
“But I have this free time on my hands on Tuesday afternoons from 1:45 until 2:30, and I know I can get so much accomplished if I just wedge it in there tight enough…”
But the answer kept coming back: REST. BE STILL. LIE DOWN (AND DON’T GET UP UNTIL I TELL YOU TO!) BE AT PEACE.
As crazy as it sounds, rest was a struggle for me to comprehend. Probably like you, my life is so busy and there is always something else demanding my attention – the thought of just stopping didn’t even make sense. But I have learned to trust God especially when He doesn’t make sense. I have come to realize in those times that He is seeing something that I am not. He is my Good Shepherd. Whereas I see danger once I am neck deep in it, He sees it from a distance and tries to steer me in another direction.
So for the last year, I have rested. I have gone to bed at a decent hour (even if the dishes weren’t done.) I began taking yoga classes and long walks. I have said “NO” to everything in my life that was not absolutely necessary (sorry classroom mothers.) And I have stopped worrying about all those things that I wasn’t doing, and something amazing happened: I was able to live in the present so much more.
In the last year, I have been so much more calm and relaxed. My blood pressure has decreased. My energy and focus has renewed. I am happier.
And even more so, those that depend on me are having a better experience. I have a handful of people in my life that can’t replace me. My kids, my beloved – they need me to function at the highest level possible. Like Matthew said, I have come to realize that taking care of myself has a huge impact on how I take care of others. I am better, stronger, and more available to the people that need me most. Looking back, I wonder about the path that I was on. How long could I have lasted without significant burnout and damage being done to my soul and my relationships? What was it that God saw in my future that He was desperate to lead me away from?
In a world that tells moms it is selfish to do things for ourselves, I am glad that I follow a Shepherd who leads me into the truth. When you think about it, the gospels are full of stories about Jesus sleeping, withdrawing, praying and resting. He is not like me, falling victim to my own pride and measuring my success by how much activity I can jam into my weekly calendar. He knew the secret that in order to physically give your best, you have to be at your best. And I am thankful that He is teaching me how to do that.
How I thank You for the guidance You provide for my life. Continue, Lord, to mold me into the best form of myself – that image that most clearly reflects the character of Jesus. Help me to trust Your plans, and not my own. Give me wisdom to follow Your lead, and strength to be consistent at it. And I pray for all those out there struggling under their own power and losing the battle every day – touch them with and over abundance of grace and mercy. Lead them in the paths that are joyful and light. Help them to open their hearts to Your divine will, that they might be fulfilled.
In the name of the Good Shepherd I pray,