Recognizing Our Need for Down Time
I'm not sure about your life, but mine often feels pretty hectic. Work, home, relationships, cleaning, laundry, cooking, errands, etc. Trying to fit in time to myself isn’t always easy (and I don’t even have children!). Usually, if I try to take time for myself, I feel guilty because there are a bajillion other things I feel that I should be doing right then. Do you feel this way, too? Do you feel like making time for yourself and for God to be difficult to fit into your day or your week?
I really believe that making time for just me (with God) is vital to getting through my week, but I still have to make a point of ensuring it actually happens. If I don’t, the weekend will be over and the next week will start before I know it.
My significant other is often reminding me that I should be taking time out of my days for just me and God. I’ll admit that it’s easier said than done. Sometimes, it can feel like just one more thing that I have to do within an already-busier-than-I’d-like schedule. But, he is right (shhh, don’t tell him I said that). Sometimes I feel a bit envious that he’s able to set aside this time for himself on such a regular basis.
Here’s what I’ve learned about myself so far in this regard:
- if I don’t make a point of taking time out of my day/week for me and God, it likely won’t happen
- there needs to be bright sunlight involved (either by going outside, or by sitting near a sunny window in my apartment)
- sometimes I need music on so that my mind doesn’t wander to work-and weekend chores-related stress
- sometimes I need to write or type in a journal
- a hot drink in my favourite owl mug helps (Rolo coffee, or Red Rose tea with fluffy milk)
- usually, I need to be alone at home or outside
- I need to be in a non-cluttered environment (yet another reason why I like to clean and organize constantly)
- I need to not feel distracted by pressures of deadlines from work, relationships and regular commitments of my time and energy
- having my Bible located near my bed and reading chair helps me remember to actually read it
- Saturday and Sunday mornings work very well for the above requirements, but between Monday and Friday I’m usually “too busy” and too tired to do anything that requires any more brain capacity
But why spend time with God?
Let me share some passages from the Bible that explain better than I can:
- “Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.” ~ Proverbs 30:5
- “I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not by dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” ~ Isaiah 41:10
- “I lift my eyes up to the hills – where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip – he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD watches over you – the LORD is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will keep you from all harm – he will watch over your life the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” ~ Psalm 121
Being still and quiet with God, listening to what He’s trying to tell me, is something that is hard for a multi-tasking, constantly-on-the-go teacher. One thing I’ve learned, though, is that if you make time for God first, everything else falls into place afterwards. Meaning, that you’re more able to focus on things that truly matter, and that the things that really shouldn’t matter end up being less important and stressful.
There will always be laundry to wash, dry, fold and put away. There will always be dirty dishes to take care of. There will always be prep and marking (if you’re a teacher, that is!). There will always be… something.
For the days when stopping and sitting are more stressful than you can manage, try taking little bits of time out of your day, when you can:
- walk to and from the grocery store instead of driving so that you can enjoy being outside with God
- keep your radio on a station that helps you connect better with God (95.1 FM is a great one if you live in the Winnipeg area)
- pray when you take bathroom breaks (often that’s the only alone time I have all day at work!)
- spend time with God when you’re alone in the shower/bathtub (especially if you have children – ask your spouse to keep those cute but oh-so-nosy kids away from the door – lock it while you’re in there!)
- go to bed a few minutes earlier than usual at night, or stay in bed a little bit later in the morning
My days and weeks turn out better (more focused and less stressful) when I spend time with God. In addition, I have more time for others when I’ve made sure to take that time to recharge and ground myself. I’d be willing to bet you’d see similar results.