I can’t even remember that last time I sat down to write. And, honestly, I hate that. I let the busyness of life, the busyness of ministry take precedence over the things that refresh me, over my self-care.
I know that when I take the time to write, my mind is clearer. I know that when I spend time hashing out the thoughts I have about ministry, Scripture, Christ, and the adventure He has for us, that I find more joy. I know that it’s something God has given me to refresh my spirit and grow closer to Him. And yet writing consistently gets put on the back burner.
While the last couple of months have been full of exciting and productive things, there have been weeks that I have felt completely overwhelmed, lonely, or just plain numb. In the chaos of life, I allow the enemy to use the very things I am doing for God to keep me from God. Don’t get me wrong, through it all, I have been consistent about my devotional and prayer time. But when I am running on empty, when I don’t have anything left to give, the hardness that is left prevents the nourishment of His word from sinking in.
I think this is why the Word of God reminds us multiple times to “be still.” God knows we need personal refreshment for our souls so that when we draw near to Him we are able to receive what He has for us. This looks different for all of us. But as we learn what those things are, as we discover what things restore our soul, we have a responsibility to make sure those things become a priority. I love the image of the oxygen mask on a plane: If I attempt to put the mask on the child first, there is a chance I won’t help either of us. But if I place my mask on first, then I have a much better chance of being able to help the child as well.
I have to take care of myself or I’m of no use to anyone else. I have to be able to receive, I have to be filled, so that I can pour out to others. Ministry is futile when I have nothing left to give.
Don’t we hear this all the time?
All. The. Time.
Why then is it so hard to implement?
It goes well for a short time and then we fall back into old habits. We justify the the busyness of ministry because it’s God’s work, it needs to happen, the Kingdom needs expanding. Or we justify the busyness of life because we need the money or the house needs fixing or the to-do list keeps getting longer.
The enemy’s number one tool of destruction is isolation. And the tendency for busyness leads us right toward that path of destruction. Have you ever been surrounded by people who genuinely love you – yet you feel alone? Have you ever been crushed by the weight of 100 little things that seem insignificant? When I am too busy to refresh, the enemy uses his tool of isolation – the first thing to go is my joy. I become numb to even the most joyous occasions. And then the rest of my life starts to suffer – my work, my home, my relationships, my parenting, my marriage. The cracks start to show and things start to crumble because I’m not taking the time to fill up.
I sit here alone in my house tonight because I hit a wall. I couldn’t figure out where the box of macaroni had gotten to. The cheese packet was on the counter. The water was boiling. Did I put the box back in the drawer? Maybe in the cupboard where I got the pot from? The cupboard above the stove? Ugh! Where did I put it? Maybe I threw a full box of macaroni away…
Nope. The noodles were already in the boiling water and the box properly placed with our burnables. I turned to my husband, “Please take her with you tonight. Please. I just need some time to get things done.” And back to cooking I went.
But it just got worse, I was rude to my husband, angry about things beyond my control, yelling at my daughter for not listening (she’s two….), and essentially throwing a fit because I got mashed potatoes on the floor.
So as they walked out the door, I knew I needed to take some time for myself. Forget the to-do list, forget that the rest of this week will be a madhouse. I’ll do nothing. But, in my husband’s words, as he walked down the steps to the car, “You aren’t capable of doing nothing.”
He’s not wrong. I’m a doer. If I’m laying on the couch doing nothing I’m either absolutely, 100% exhausted, or terribly sick. So I chuckled and thought, maybe I’ll write. As I sat down and turned on the TV, I knew that writing was exactly what my soul needed.
I sit here with a smile on my face because God is good. Because, in the midst of the crazy, when I’m ready to give up, He reminds me to step back and be still. He gently nudges me back to reality. I’m thankful that I took a minute to recognize the nudging and didn’t just dive back into my to-do list (because, we all know, it’s not going to finish itself on its own).
So, I guess I wrote tonight for myself. Not to share the next step of our voyage. Not to share some insightful thoughts about Scripture or to get on another soap box. I wrote because I needed to feel my soul again.
What do you do to refresh your spirit? And when was the last time you did so?