You know what I’m talking about, right? The moment it catches up to you (mid-thirties, usually) and you realize you’re going to have to stop and get gas.
I bent over to field a grounder and couldn’t walk for 3 days.
I sneezed too enthusiastically and my neck wasn’t right for a week.
I filled up my schedule and now I don’t have time for my kids (aka “Cats in the Cradle”).
I’m so busy serving everyone else that my soul shriveled up like a desiccated fish in Djibouti.
Honestly, I don’t know how to stop.
I’m just waiting until ___________ (fill in the blank) and then it’ll get better.
This strained life should lead to a pause, a re-calibration, perhaps a realization that our failure to rest wasn’t the healthiest thing in the world. Often, however, a strained life leads to guilt and shame and a redoubled push to do harder. Everyone else on Instagram seems to be handling life perfectly. (It’s amazing what filters and curating can do, btw.)
And besides, our work is IMPORTANT! Important I tell you!
“The greatest act of faith a man can perform is the act that we perform every night. We abandon our identity, we turn our soul and body into chaos and old night. We uncreate ourselves as if at the end of the world: for all practical purposes we become dead men, in the sure and certain hope of a glorious resurrection.” G. K. Chesterton, In Defense of Sanity
Would it help you to consider sabbath as an intentional act of faith?
Would it be easier to enter into regular rest if you saw it as an act of defiance, a railing against workaholism and works-based salvation? Because it is.
If you’re feeling the strained life, please pause.
It might not have to be that way.
How long can your soul take it, this incessant work and pressure? How long can your relationships take it?
Seasons of higher stress are normal (um, transition?!). Seasons of less sleep are normal (infants, anyone?). But even so, the thing that folks seem to miss is the turning of a season into an age; a winter turning into an ice age.
If any of this goes twang, pay attention. And maybe read an article or something.
But first, breathe.
- Margin: the Wasted Space we Desperately Need (about shoulders, airplane seats, and Downton Abbey)
- Please Stop Running (a story about my former life in the ER, where NOBODY RUNS)
At various times of my life, God has used these books to slow me down, to re-center my soul, and to draw me, once again, into the secure, peaceful, presence of the King.
The book descriptions are from Amazon, and the links are affiliate links. In other words, any book purchased through one of these links helps A Life Overseas stay afloat, so thanks!
Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, by Dr. Richard Swenson
Margin is the space that once existed between ourselves and our limits. Today we use margin just to get by. This book is for anyone who yearns for relief from the pressure of overload. Reevaluate your priorities, determine the value of rest and simplicity in your life, and see where your identity really comes from. The benefits can be good health, financial stability, fulfilling relationships, and availability for God’s purpose.
Flee, Be Silent, Pray: Ancient Prayers for Anxious Christians, by Ed Cyzewski
What if prayer could be simple rather than strenuous?
Anxious, results-driven Christians can never pray enough, serve enough, or study enough. But what if God is calling us not to frenzied activity but to a simple spiritual encounter? What if we must merely receive what God has already given us?
In Flee, Be Silent, Pray, writer and contemplative retreat leader Ed Cyzewski guides readers out of the anxiety factory of contemporary Christianity and toward a God whose love astounds those quiet long enough to receive it. With helpful guidance into solitude, contemplative prayer, and practices such as lectio divina and the Examen, Cyzewski guides readers toward the Christ whose yoke is easy and whose burden is light.
Ready to shed the fear of the false self and the exhaustion of a duty-driven faith? Flee. Be silent. Pray.
Finding Spiritual Whitespace: Awakening Your Soul to Rest, by Bonnie Gray
Running on empty with no time for rest, yourself, or God? Soulful author Bonnie Gray shows how to create spiritual whitespace in the everyday for God, refreshment, and faith—right in the midst of our stress-frayed lives. She guides you to discover a better story for yourself, one that feeds your soul and makes room for rest.