Have you ever had a period in your life when you just could not move forward? Each step may seem laborious as you pick up one foot, preparing to plant the next one on the ground. Covered in mud, you try repeatedly to pull yourself out of that pit only to somehow slide right back down. I am guessing a few people can relate.
How did you arrive at this place? There might be many situations. Sometimes it is a sudden event, perhaps a personal loss. I relish the memories of my older brother now, but the moment when he died came so suddenly that it felt like I had fallen into a vortex that was spinning out of control. Sometimes it is a series of events, occurring over a sustained amount of time without any break seemingly. The question can haunt you, ‘Can I ever catch a break??’
“You can lose your MONEY. You can lose your FRIENDS. You can lose your JOB and you can lose your MARRIAGE…and still recover…as long as there is HOPE. Never lose HOPE.” – John Paul Warren
I arrived at church today a little begrudgingly. My husband has been traveling for what seems like forever. I didn’t go for the most noble of reasons. I was lonely. I was tired. It has rained for days, and I just wanted time to be with some encouraging people. I mumbled a bit more when my mother did not want to join me. I grumbled when a good friend was home due to illness. Yes, you read that correctly. I, I, I, I, I, I, I.
“Almost every sinful action ever committed can be traced back to a selfish motive. It is a trait we hate in other people but justify in ourselves. ” – Stephen Kendrick, The Love Dare
The service was coming to a close when our senior pastor stated that the elders were joining him for an announcement. I braced myself because I’ve heard this announcement more than once at a previous church. Each time the conversation ended with someone’s moral failure.
I took a deep breath as they announced that he would be taking a sabbatical. A sabbatical? Oddly enough, I was immediately excited for him. Isn’t it true that oftentimes everyone else recognizes when you have reached burnout out far sooner than you see it in yourself? There was no scandalous story, there was simply a leader doing exactly what he needs to do – lead by example.
Are you at a point where you need a break from some things? I recognize not everyone is in the position to take a sabbatical. Let me pose some other questions to you that might strike a nerve.
- Do you take a Sabbath Day each week to genuinely rest?
- Do you use all of your vacation days?
- Do you have regular time of reflection?
- Do you meditate?
- Do you know what your purpose is?
- Do you check your calendar every hour – even more frequently perhaps – because your schedule is one big, long event without taking a break during the day?
- Are you constantly upset and disappointed with people?
- What are your first thoughts every morning? Do you begin the day with a list of problems without regard to potential solutions?
- Are you using poor and harmful methods to cope?
There are things you can change if you are at this point or rapidly approaching it. Some proactive steps include:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Set boundaries (that is my personal OUCH!)
- Seek out support from others.
- Evaluate both your short-term and long-term goals. What are you doing out of guilt or pressure?
- Exercise regularly.
- Try a new form of recreation. Perhaps it is taking a sketching class, visiting that vacation place you’ve put off for years.
- Resolve conflicts with family and friends, as much as it can depend on you.
“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.” – Gal. 5:22, The Message
As they used to say in the McDonald’s advertising, you deserve a break today. You do need it. Give yourself that gift.