by Melody Haldeman
Natalie asked me to continue on the topic of self care this month. I’m happy to share a few more thoughts on this topic as I believe it’s a foundational issue at the basis of our effectiveness in our family, the world and our relationship with God.
The heart of true self care is stewardship, not indulgence.
I mentioned in my post last month that I had previously found myself in a state of nervous breakdown that started my path to healing and rest. My story involved caring full-time for two children, one with extra needs, working full-time (through the night, because that was the only available time) and carrying many emotional burdens for others that weren’t necessarily mine to take on. I wasn’t sleeping, barely eating and running on empty. My breaking point was heath failure and finally, I hit rock bottom. Time for change. Anyone out there relate? Your specific details may be different but I know that many out there have found themselves in the same place of worn out, run down and out of juice.
Rock bottom is surprisingly refreshing. There is nowhere to go but up, little to lose and everything to gain. The perfect place to start over!
One factor that personally perpetuated this unhealthy stress cycle was my underlying belief that total self-sacrifice was necessary (and even holy) to be effective. The idea that I should be able to “do it all” and anything less was failure. Of course, while running myself down I was the opposite of effective. I felt scattered, disorganized, emotionally weak.
He is so good and gracious and began a beautiful work changing my heart to understand His heart for us. He values us! He gives us peace! He is a source of constant rest and joy! We are fearfully and perfectly made, valued beyond compare by Him. Speak that over yourself! Feel your spirit literally coming alive in response to truth. Let’s tap into a well of never ending refreshment in Him. Spiritually and practically, we can cultivate habits to prioritize, take care of ourselves and create refreshment.
If you find yourself in a state of frustration or ineffectiveness today, read on…
First Things First: Pull Back and Strategize
Determine the essential areas in your life and temporarily cut out everything else for a set time. If necessary, all other social engagements, projects and any extras will be temporarily put on hold. First things in my life are God, my marriage, my children and my own heart. I will focus on and feed these things exclusively for a set amount of time. Use this space to re-examine everything.
During this time…heal, rest. Ask hard questions. How can you free up the time you need to flourish?
Remember that every commitment you say YES to is also a NO to another opportunity. Weigh your decision carefully and embrace the courageous NO that will free you up for the right YES.
Ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Is there a habit that you can adapt or adjust to take care of yourself from the inside out?
- Have you said yes to the right opportunity?
- Are you headed in the direction of your God-given dreams?
- Are you living out your core values? If not, how can you start?
- What would it look like to take action with no fear?
- Are you ready to trust?
End this time when when you are refreshed and ready with an action plan to begin a fresh start.
You’re Not Alone
I love to make lists, calendars and goal plans to visually keep myself on track for everything that needs doing. The downside of this is looking at the whole picture at once is a lot to take in. When I feel myself getting overwhelmed I remind myself that I do not have to accomplish everything alone and try to gather a team to come alongside to help with these things. If that means I need to hire a babysitter while I finish a few work projects, or ask my mom to come over and help me catch up on laundry (I know, I’m lucky!) – then I need to ask for help without shame. If I try to take on and control everything myself I end up exhausted and in a bad mood – not exactly soul building.
Another benefit is that this is a good way to feed natural community building. Don’t forget to prioritize helping others as well. It’s life-giving to work together, grow together and share burdens & blessings.
I’m praying that you each feel refreshed and renewed right where you are today!