SixEight Life

justice.mercy.journey

The Quiet Place

Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God's presence are better bets. Photo Credit: bottled_void (creative commons)

Stress balls may work for a short period of time, but self care and resting in God’s presence are better bets. Photo Credit: bottled_void (creative commons)

The new year is in full swing and if you’re like me, you’re wondering how we’re already 19 days into 2014. Part of me feels like I haven’t been able to catch my breath since the holidays, which were insane. New year, new semester, new commitments, renewed responsibilities- there’s not much time left in the day after my ‘to do’ list is done. I was thinking about the myriad of things going on and a little word came to mind.

Stress.

Sometimes I feel like I attract stress like a magnet. This week was absolutely crazy and I haven’t had a chance to stop, and it’s almost Monday again. I feel so thankful in where God has me right now, but while my cup runs over with blessings, my plate is also completely full. I had a full, fun weekend but in many cases my thoughts were overrun with insecurities, my to-do list, and the myriad of ways I didn’t have it all ‘together’.

There are many things in play here that result in stress, but I don’t want to get into a lengthy discussion about boundaries, saying no, and over commitment. Those are certainly aspects of my life that I need to work on. I imagine I’m not the only one.  I could also talk about society, how we’ve created a culture that is completely nonstop. It’s a culture that applauds the woman who can ‘do it all’ while still looking perfect 24/7.  I feel like we have conversations about society and boundaries a good bit. We know the deep cultural ideals that lead to stress being our norm, and we know that healthy boundaries can decrease our stress.

But what we don’t talk about very often is this term in my profession (social work) that we call “Self Care”. Self care is essentially what it sounds like: taking care of yourself. It’s taking time to relax, unwind, and refuel. It’s something that we all should do but very few of us consciously take the time to practice. It’s practical, simple and even Biblical.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. – Mark 1:35

He that dwells in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. – Psalm 91:1

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. – Gen 2:2

God rested, Jesus went away to a quiet place, and if we dwell in the secret place, we will be under the shadow of God. These are just a few verses that come to mind when I think about “self care”. Many of us bustle around like Martha when we should be resting at the feet of Jesus like Mary. (see Luke 10:38-42). We think that we are supposed to be busy busy busy- which usually means we are also stressed, stressed, stressed. When I am constantly on the go, I can miss out on ministry opportunities and just miss out on the simple beauties of our world. I know God didn’t intend for us to live in that way.

My encouragement for us today (including myself- I need to hear this over and over) is to take some time to go to your ‘quiet place’. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes and you have to sneak away, find things that help you relax and do them. Take time to read your Bible and pray, but don’t put pressure on yourself to do your devotional a certain way. Just sit in the presence of God. Take deep breaths and visualize your stress going away. Go on a walk outside and breathe fresh air. Do a favorite hobby just for the fun of it. For a few minutes each day, take care of you. God cherishes you greatly and loves you so much- He doesn’t want you to stress yourself out to burnout.  You were worth Him sending His son, and He wants you to be healthy and resting in his presence.

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