When you sit by the ocean, enjoying the moment and you draw a picture in the sand… it doesn’t matter how cool the drawing is or how much time you spent on it, sooner or later it’s going to get wiped clean by a wave. That’s how it’s always gonna be when you scribble in the sand next to a mighty ocean.
The exact same thing is true when you’re getting near God’s purposes for your life and you’re trying to set realistic boundaries. I’ll speak for myself, at least.
Everything I’ve ever learned about boundaries, stress management and self-care is being put to the test right now. Life has never been busier. It is an exciting time in every way, seeing God fulfill His promises… answer prayer… teach me more about Himself and His dreams for me. I’m understanding with profound clarity that as He uses me in the ways He seems to want to use me, I’ll never be able to meet all the demands without putting measures in place to protect my physical, spiritual and emotional sustainability.
Self-care has always been the first thing to hit the back burner when life cranks up the demands on my time and energy. Bad habits like skipping meals, having too much caffeine, sacrificing sleep and not exercising start to take a toll very quickly. Before I know it, I’ve become tense, irritable, unproductive, weary. My kids start looking at me with a look that tells me I’m not connecting with their needs. My husband starts to hand me food because he knows I’m not stopping often enough to refill and refresh. (I may have mentioned this before, but he is the greatest. Ever. He deserves so much more than the leftovers of my time and energy.)
I know by now that, when I’m running on fumes, I can either stop and refuel or be prepared for the fallout that happens when I hit “empty” . I’ve hit “empty” a time or two in my life. I know with certainty that I don’t want to go back there. So I have a choice to make.
I’ve come a long way but I am realizing all over again that sustainability never happens without intentionality. It is a constant challenge to integrate healthy habits into my “doing” in order to be a well-rounded, healthy, balanced individual who is more than a “doer”.
We are not robots. We aren’t deadline machines. We certainly can’t be miracle workers.
There is certainly a lot to be said for realizing that life is short, making the most of every moment and being responsible, remaining aware that my needs aren’t the only needs to consider. But it’s not easy to find that happy place between being used to the fullest and being full so I can be used. So where is that happy place and how do I find it?! (Anyone out there who has insight here, I’m open!)
For today, here is my plan for finding my happy place (until the next wave comes and I get to do this all over again):
1) Eat breakfast.
2) Pray over the day.
3) Take inventory on the ‘to do’ items causing me the most stress and tackle those items first.
4) Turn off my inbox for an hour at a time so I don’t get sidetracked.
6) Answer emails in designated blocks of time rather than constantly going back and forth between emails and tasks.
7) Eat lunch. Perhaps even with a friend!
8) Remember to rest my eyes and stretch while working.
9) Remember to drink plenty of water and breathe.
10) Set a stopping point when I will be done working for the day. (Even if it’s 8 p.m. there has to be a point where I decide I’m done for the day. Otherwise, I’ll never get that sense of rest that comes with knowing that I did my best today and I’ll be back tomorrow.)
11) Have an uninterrupted conversation with my husband (with the laptop closed) before the day ends.
12) Take 30 minutes this evening to give my home the TLC it needs but isn’t getting right now.
13) Take time with each of my children when they get me all to themselves for awhile.
14) End the day by refilling spiritually.
15) Consider why I can’t bring myself to put exercise on this list yet. What do I have against exercise? That’s a topic for another day.
I’ll let you know how it goes. Gotta run. I have a happy place to find.