This has not been an easy week. In fact, it’s been an up-at-5:30-go-all-day-collapse-into-bed-around-midnight-dog-tired kind of week. The day job has been stressful. The extra-curricular activity shuttling of children started in full-gear. There were spelling tests and math quizzes to help study for, PTO meetings to prepare for, committee meetings to attend, volunteer events to plan, piles of laundry to fold, the suitcase to finish unpacking from that business trip I took 4 weeks ago, etc.
It’s Friday night and I’m exhausted. This is not a new feeling for me. I’m pretty sure the last time I felt rested was in 2002. But this Friday, instead of wanting to break down into tears of exhaustion or hide under my covers, I actually have a smile and feel at peace. And I know the reason is because this week I have made time to spend in the Word and prayer every single day. And every day God, in His undeniable ways, met me where I was and I either read a devotion, heard a song, or found a bit of scripture that spoke directly to what I was struggling with that day. I know after 37 years I shouldn’t be surprised that He does that, but it still amazes me.
This past Sunday the message at church was about being tired. Not just physically, although that’s a big part of my life, but being mentally drained and spiritually depleted, as well. The sermon could have literally been written for me, as it described my life to a tee. Every week I talk to my step-mom on the phone and she always asks me the same question, “how are you?” and I always answer the same way, “tired, stressed…you know, the usual.”
The worst part is I keep kidding myself that if I can just “get past this one thing,” “finish this one project,” etc. then things will return to “normal” — whatever that is. First it was getting through the infancy of my first-born. Then it was getting through being pregnant with twins, and then the first year of having infant twins and a toddler (not much I remember about their first 6 months). Then it was, changing my job, ending my commute, finishing grad school…you get the picture. But there always seems to be one. more. thing.
What really stuck with me after Sunday’s message was the idea of margin. Like a piece of paper, we all have a margin in our life that needs to be reserved and protected. As a marketing person who has taken a design class or two, I know how important white space and margin are. You fill up a piece of paper with too much text and images and it looks terrible! Not only that, but your core message is going to get lost in the midst of the chaos and clutter.
I can keep waiting for this phase or that one to end. But as long as I keep adding things that spill into the margins of my life I will stay in this same, exhausted place, where often the core message of my soul is lost in the chaos and clutter. Intellectually I know this, but for some reason I continue to struggle with actually doing it. For years I have beaten-up and berated myself, thinking:
“Why can’t you get this figured out?”
“How hard is it to say ‘no’ or take care of yourself.”
“No one’s going to do it for you.”
But listening to the core teaching verse this Sunday I finally realized I don’t have to –nor can I– do this alone.
In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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.”
If I want to find rest. If I want to eliminate excess and lighten my burdens. If I seek healing and restoration then I must start with Jesus. For He is “my strength and my fortress, my refuge.”
When I don’t know what to let go of, He will show me the way.
When I feel depleted, His Word will fill my soul.
When I forget how to care for myself, He will remind me what is needed.
While I may not have been able to let go of much of the worldly things I had on my “to-do list” this week, I was able to spend time every day looking to God for guidance and wisdom.
I’m a work in progress. I know with time, practice and dependence on the Heavenly Father I will learn how to maintain margin.