Caring For Yourself #2: Resting in Him
Valley Church exists to help people love God, love life and love people. As we walk with God, and find ways to have a positive impact on people around us, we don’t want that middle part to be forgotten - that He created you to LOVE LIFE!
In our last blog post we began to explore what can happen when our thoughts and feelings seem to be taking us in a direction we don’t want to go in. We looked at the idea of resourcing ourselves with tools that can help us when we feel afraid or overwhelmed, and began with the importance of putting those feelings into words.
A big part of the testimony that Elaine shared was that she began to feel overwhelmed with various responsibilities in her life. It’s something that many of us can identify with. We can have full lives made up of many ingredients that we have chosen to include in it - our job, the home we live in, relationships we are in, ministries that we love to serve in - plus a few other elements we wouldn’t have willingly chosen, like health problems, unexpected expenses, and people who are difficult to connect with. And we can feel for the most part that we are balancing all these different elements well, until one day we suddenly feel that we aren’t.
When this happens, we begin to see our responsibilities as burdens. We start to measure people by how easy or difficult they make those burdens feel, and respond to them with frustration or withdrawal. Things that we once saw as blessings lose their joy and we can feel like life is one long to-do list that we never seem to get to the bottom of.
If you recognise any of those responses in yourself, here are some tools that can help you to make adjustments to bring you back to a place of joy and balance.
Tool #4: Brain Dump
Like tool number 2, getting those things that are swirling round your mind out and onto paper where they can be seen is critical. If you’re feeling like you have a thousand things to think about, it is an impossible task to fulfil them all. But when you write them out, even if the number turns out to be 137, it’s still less than it felt when they were stuck in your head, clambering for attention.
Once all those responsibilities are identified, you can begin to categorise them. Here are some examples of how you can break them down:
- Recurring tasks (daily, weekly, etc) These aren’t things that will ever be finished, but they can be assigned to particular times in your schedule. That means you don’t have to think about them each week until the appointed time you’re doing them.
- Small one off jobs that would take less than an hour to complete. Grouping these together and putting them in priority order means you can begin to work your way down this list and complete a few every week.
- Ongoing projects. There may be things you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, like redecorating a room in your house or learning a new skill. These need to be broken down into steps that can be scheduled into the next few weeks or months, or maybe have a couple of days specifically set aside for them.
The Bible gives us examples of people who reached a point of overwhelm in their responsibilities and had to find new ideas to make it all work - check out Exodus 18v13-26 and Acts 6v1-7.
Tool #5: Pray over everything on that list
Having everything written down helps you to take stock of all of the elements in your life and gives you chance to ask why they are there. It’s possible that some of the things you’re carrying aren’t necessary or helpful to you. When we recognise that God is a good father who gives good things to His children, it gives us the freedom to hold everything in our lives with open hands and ask the question, “God, is this good for me right now?”.
If we are including things in our lives for the wrong reasons, this gives the Holy Spirit opportunity to speak to us about it. It might be that we’ve developed really unhelpful habits. It might be that we are anxious and including distractions and busyness that keeps us from the best things God has for us. It might be that we’ve said yes to things to try and win people’s favour or compensate for our insecurities.
It also means we give ourselves space to hear God about areas where He wants us to step up. Sometimes the things that challenge us the most are the answers we’ve been waiting for - the opportunities to stretch ourselves to the next level and find joy in operating the gifts He’s given us.
If we try to juggle everything in our lives without listening to God and leaning on His strength that He supplies, we will quickly hit burn out or sink into apathy, and then we won’t be able to do anything at all.
Tool #6: Prioritise time just to be with God.
Once we have acknowledged every single thing that has been on our mind, and prayed God’s Lordship over it, we need to continue to make time with Him our priority. One of the most powerful parts of a relationship with God is that He calls us to draw close to Him. This means laying aside everything else for some moments every day just so we can fully focus on Him. Doing this means we are embracing our identity in Him and everything He has done for us. It helps us get a revelation of our worth as we understand how much He treasures just being with us.
Resting in Him means we put things in the proper order. It is God who is on the throne, not us. It is Him that the world revolves around, not our success at getting everything done. From this place of rest and submission, we draw mental and emotional strength that equips us for everything else in our lives. The role we play in His bigger picture, and the gifts He’s given us to share with the world, become sources of joy and fulfillment rather than unhealthy pressure.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11v28-30
For more help, we recommend:
Reading: Boundaries by Dr Henry Cloud and Dr John Townsend
Listening: spending time with worship songs that focus on who God is
Declaring: Psalm 131v2; Hebrews 10v19-22; 1 John 3v19-20
These verses remind us how much God wants us to be in His presence. Even when our own thoughts are telling us we haven’t done enough, His Spirit is encouraging us to rest in Him.