“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 11:28-30
There is a season for everything. And when we grow weary, God reminds us to draw closer to God and to rest. This is not something I do well. I am well known for saying, “You can sleep when you’re dead.” I am not great at caring for myself—this comes with the territory of being a caretaker of others. Like many people in caretaking roles, especially women, I view my value and worth as coming from serving others, and sometimes that comes at great cost to myself: burnout, exhaustion, frustration, and even resentment.
Being in community means no one can do everything on their own—we aren’t supposed to, and I don’t. I have lots and lots of support and help, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t overdo it, or that I don’t have a hard time asking for help. I often go from one youth event or trip right into the next with no time off, and I get sick or I am too exhausted to do much of anything else. It takes a physical, as well as emotional and mental toll.
I wouldn’t trade a single second of my life or my ministry, and I know how lucky I am to do what I love and am passionate about every single day! But I am not perfect, and I am not superwoman, and God reminds us over and over again to find rest. I have learned that I need to work on that. I think this is especially true in these days of working from home and creatively coming up with new ways to do ministry.
One of my favorite poems is Mary Oliver’s “Summer Day.” In the poem she asks, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” And I answer that I plan to live! A speaker from the ELCA Youth Gathering in 2018 said we shouldn’t be asking ourselves what we’re willing to die for, but instead what we’re willing to LIVE for.
To live fully and richly, and to live wholly, I need to be rested, I need to take care, and I need to stop to breathe. To truly take care of others and give love, I have to learn to take care of and love myself. You can’t live fully with your cup empty, and you can’t give when you have nothing left to give.
So now is a time to rest, to lean more fully on God. To take time to care for myself. I read recently that you have to practice what you value most. In this season, I want to practice rest and self-care. Intentional stillness. Leaving room for the unexpected. It takes work; it takes time. I can’t just expect to wake up tomorrow and be excellent at taking care of myself, valuing myself, and being still. I want to spend time practicing and give myself time and space to learn.
What will you do with your one wild and precious life?
What are you living for?
What are you practicing daily?