While Jesus may not have known the 24/7 demands of parenthood (around the clock feedings, diaper changes, doctor’s visits, play dates and IEP meetings), He did understand the demands of being constantly needed by others. He knew what it was to need to find a time and a place to be alone.
Yet in spite of the never-ending needs of others and the very good causes, Jesus knew when to when to press the pause button. Maybe each day or once a week, he stepped off the caring-for-others treadmill, stopped, turned, and went away to a secluded place to replenish his own reserves.
If ever we needed assurance that it is okay to pause to care for ourselves (even when our responsibilities stomp their feet and scream otherwise), this is it. In fact, not only is it okay, it is the Good Doctor’s orders. God Himself, who stopped to rest after his creation of the universe, insisted we also take a time out from never-ending errands, demands and lists, so that we may simply rest, regain our perspective, and recharge our spiritual and emotional batteries.
Of course this battle is different for everyone. For me, the struggle is hardest during school breaks. School days just make life so much more manageable—to provide the daily solitude I need to manage my day-to-day world. And they provide the structure that my sons with autism rely on to manage their day-to-day battle with anxiety.
Each morning, after lunches are packed, everyone is fed, lie-detector tests are passed about brushing teeth (with toothpaste–!) and my teens are driven to school, I return home, walk past the piles of dirty dishes and unfolded laundry and crash into my favorite ratty chair to finally sip a cup of coffee, read and pray and journal to get my head in the game.
Morning solitude recharges my spiritual batteries. Morning time with God calms my fears and lets Him remind me that together, we have a purpose, and I’m not alone to accomplish it. But then comes vacation when school time schedules are exchanged for seat-of-the-pants chaos. I lose my space for solitude and out-loud prayers (which is kinda how I like to do it) that keep me grounded, and instead, I find myself running on empty, at odds with everything and everyone.
Turns out that my solution is pretty simple. Annoying, but simple. What I need during vacations is a decent bedtime so I will have enough energy to get up before everyone else the next morning. It means saying no to my inner-child who wants to stay up for just one more distracting episode of my favorite comedy or how-to program. But if I’m honest with myself, I know I need quiet time in the morning with my coffee and God more than I need another cooking lesson with Jamie Oliver.
So, what about you? What kind of spiritual self-care (maybe time in nature with God, or artistic expression, or heart-to-heart prayer with a friend, or music that fills your soul) do you find it hard to say yes to because you cannot seem to say no to some demands of those around you? Are there any changes can you make to ensure that you are replenishing your spiritual batteries on a regular basis instead of letting them run dry?
Think about it. Pray about. And see where God leads you.
–Kelli Ra Anderson, author of Divine Duct Tape and blog: Divine GPS: a mothers’s faith journey to find God and humor in a life of autism, teenage parenting and midlife crisis
Latest posts by Kelli Ra Anderson (see all)
- Calming our Anxiety in Special Needs Parenting - August 24, 2015
- Victory in the Seeming Loss of Special Needs Advocacy - June 22, 2015
- Retreating in God’s Hands: respite for the special needs parent - May 25, 2015