Thursday, January 28, 2010

Doing what makes me happy



For a long time in my life, I neglected things that made me happy. Not by choice, but by neglect. My life was all about denying myself and pushing my own needs aside for others. Feeling tired and burnt-out but still pushing on. Not stopping to think I was unhappy and unhealthy. Suppressing who God made me to be. There is nothing in the world wrong with denying yourself or even pushing your own needs aside for others. This is the life of a mother. This should be the life of a Christian. In fact, it should just be a natural way of life. It is a life that the Lord calls us to.
But the Lord did not give weeds for the work. He has given us many many pleasures along the path, and we should enjoy them for the glory of Him. When we are off-balance--not taking the time to care for ourselves, to do things for ourselves, then we will burn-out. We will die, we will shrivel into martyrdom and perhaps depression.
Think about who God made you to be. Are you starving for a break? Some people need more breaks than others. Our personalities are not all the same. But I do believe God made us "for His own glory". If we as mothers are living a life tired, depressed, angry, burnt-out, unhappy, grouchy, guilty, ad nauseum, then are we truly glorifying Him? It might take some time to refocus. Refocus on your purpose in your life. Embracing joy. Then it's ok to take some time out to do things that make you happy. Stumped on what to do?

1. Sleep. make sleep a priority in your life. You are more productive and bring more quality to your work when you are well rested.
2. Schedule a two-minute break 2-3 times a day to spend time alone and just "be".
3. Schedule time to exercise.
4. Do something "just for you". This is not selfish, this is restorative. And again, ask yourself who God made you to be. Some people are fine without time alone. Some people need it more than others--(that is me!) I like to find that balance. If my life is full of "must-do's" and busyness then I get burnt-out easily. I am sensitive that way. Making time to sit and breathe and do nothing is restorative for me.
5. Eliminate energy drainers in your life: energy-sapping relationships, unfinished projects, paperwork, clutter, negative images and information, news, depressing movies and books...
6. Dream. Take time out to dream. It's healthy and restorative! It forces us to look inside and see what desires the Lord has put in us so we can give them to Him to do what He wills with them. 

(this is not my image! I am sorry to say I do not know where I got it! I had it saved on my computer for a long time because I liked it so much....)

15 comments:

Natalie said...

Andrea,
what a fantastic post!!! As you know, this has been my journey as of late. Your reminder about sleep is so important and something I need to work on. I love the idea of very short breaks throughout the day to get re-energized. I'll be trying that- starting today! Love you!

Aimee said...

eliminating energy drainers is HUGE!! you could write a whole post just on that!

i have to remind myself to go to bed EARLY b/c it makes such a big difference. Last night I went to bed at 9:30 and it made a tremendous difference.

Kate said...

What wonderful, timely advice. The thought that there has to be a limit to my self-denial is new, but you're spot-on. It isn't about me; it's about the Lord, and I want to be the best version of myself for His glory.

Young Mom said...

Eliminating energy drainers is the best thing I have ever done! Its a constant project though, since new ones are always popping up.

Monica said...

Thanks for the encouragement. I recently started going to an exercise class because it was at the same time/location as my son's basketball practice. I was debating about continuing when the season is over. I think you just answered my question.:)

Courtney said...

So true, Andrea! Hard to be a mom and not feel guilty about taking time for ourselves or admitting we need help. I too was feeling burned-out over the past month since being cooped up indoors with a very active (obviously bored) toddler. But then I had an "epiphany" yesterday...so I am signing my daughter up for a Christian-based mothers day out program one or two days a week to give her some new stimulation and to give me a breathier. I feel really good about the decision, and I know it'll be good for both of us! And she is so excited about going to "school"!

debbie bailey said...

I'm like you in that I need space around me to calm down, close my eyes, and breathe. Once or twice a year I go to the Tennessee mountains, rent a cabin, and do whatever I want to do. I write, watch movies, sleep, take walks, think, pray, read, take photos, etc. It's sheer bliss to be alone for a few days. I know this doesn't suit everyone. I have friends who look at me in horror just thinking about being alone that much.

And you're right. You need to do whatever it takes to be the person God means for you to be, and if that includes having more down time than others, don't feel guilty about it. Enjoy it!

Linda said...

I couldn't agree more Andrea. I believe when we take the time to do those things you've suggested we are better equipped to do the things we need to do. I'm like you - I need to have a good bit of alone time. I feel much more able to do other things when I've had it.

Prairie Chick said...

I love this. And for the record (I know you know it), I love you. Dropped you some love in this post;

http://prairieprologue.blogspot.com/2010/01/beautiful.html

TAMI said...

You can't say this often enough!

Freedom & fullness -- that's what Christ GAVE us ... how sad that we often exchange for so many "shoulds."

Miss JennyPenny said...

So true, Andrea! Eventual we can read it in black and white! I am so agree with you because I experience it firsthand. And a mother with burn out isn't good for the whole family!
Now, I thanks for every day and take a few breaks to catch for breath.
I'm sorry for my english. I come from germany and by chance I find your very nice blog!

Best greetings from Jenny

Jennifer said...

Thank you for this post. I just found your blog today, and this post really spoke to me and where I am right now. I needed to hear this...and God knew it, of course! You have encouraged me.

Wendy said...

What a beautiful post and so true in this busy world!! So happy to have found your blog :)

Anonymous said...

You are very fortunate to have realized this before you burned out totally. Unfortunately, there are Christians who frown on any sort of me-time for mamas. I fell victim to that syndrome, combined with homeschooling year after year and a then-spouse who thought that " I AM TIRED- BURNED OUT-EXHAUSTED " meant that I should be "better, over it, back to normal do everything for everyone always" in, oh, two days at most. A spouse who is emotionally supportive is a huge blessing. Be thankful if you have one.

Courtney Graham said...

Totally agree- it I was to write such a list- it would have pretty much all of the same elements. The tiny breaks are a good reminder too!