Burnout can come to any of us. Sometimes it comes because we’re in a high-stress season, and sometimes it comes because we’ve over-committed.
There are times, though, when burnout comes because we have not treated ourselves as human beings worthy of care.
Whether because we’ve been a “mommy martyr” or because in the busyness of life, it’s fallen by the wayside, we can forget that God has given us our minds, hearts, and bodies as something we are to steward well.
STEWARDSHIP… OF YOU???
What does it mean to exercise stewardship?
Merriam-Webster defines it this way:
the conducting, supervising, or managing of something; especially: the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care
Stewardship is not just something reserved for money, company property, or for a committee that meets once a month at church.
Stewardship is something we all do, everyday.
Everything we own is God’s.
Read that again: everything we own is God’s. That includes our money and possessions, but doesn’t stop there.
God has given us our time, our energy levels and physical strength. He has given us the relationships and family that we have. He has given us our roles and occupation. Stewardship is a mindset we can bring to everything we do, and everything we are.
So then, even though it sounds selfish (and can have selfish application– I think of the modern “me-time” phenomenon that has women darting here and there in an attempt to fill the empty and hurting places in their souls), I believe one of the things we are to do is to steward ourselves well.
WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE TO STEWARD “ME?”
One way that we care for the people in our lives is to see that their needs are met. Needs like food, water, warmth, nursing when they are sick, etc., are all the basics… but we typically don’t stop there.
We arrange our furniture in such a way that it services the needs of the people who live in our home. Perhaps we buy our husband’s favorite snack to show that we care for him. He doesn’t “need” the snack, and yet, his need for affection and care is something we care about and desire to meet. So we buy the snack. Perhaps we purchase books for our children to read that will not just fill our shelves with books, but will fill their minds with wholesome, Godward thinking. We work to recognize when a child is overcommitted, and instead of signing them up for more activities, we purposefully decompress and take a semester (or more) off from the chaos.
These are all examples of thoughtful stewardship. They are also intentional ways of actively loving the people around us.
So, then, how can I steward “me?”
I think particularly for moms, this can be an important consideration. It is not a visit to the salon, ultimately, that will soothe my soul. An outfit that better fits my marshmallowy postpartum body will not resolve the hurts of my heart. At times, a physical answer like one of these could possibly be a piece of the puzzle, but it is not my final solution.
What then are some ways we can (rightly, biblically) have our needs met? These are in order of how I believe they should happen:
- Prayer– talk to the Lord.
- Bible reading– be encouraged and have your mind renewed.
- Analyze the way you’re running your home and consider if some things need to be prioritized differently or done by others.
- Build REST into your routine. (Naptime? After the kids’ bedtime? How can you help your heart and body to be at rest during this in-the-trenches season of motherhood?)
- Build NURTURE into your routine. In the same way that you seek to care for the other people in your home, consider small ways you can care for yourself. Scripture says a lot condemning selfishness, but it also makes a lot of assumptions that “we care for our own flesh”– see the classic marriage passage in Ephesians 5 as one example. It is not wrong or selfish to care for your own flesh, and make efforts to see that your needs are met, similar to how you do for the other people in your home.
- Talk to your husband- ask for his advice and input. Many times, Doug has weighed in on an issue in our home and helped provide a simple solution to a problem I was previously churning over and couldn’t solve on my own.
- Look to your husband- appropriately ask for his help and engagement in what’s happening in your home. (There are seasons where this may be inapplicable. A husband who’s working 2 jobs and going through college likely won’t be able to help with the housework much at all. A husband who has a hectic travel schedule may not be able to do this as often. But it is not wrong to ask your husband to jump in and help, especially in times like the postpartum season.)
- Talk to your children– about what needs doing, and about being cheerful helpers.
- Look to your children– see what they are capable of doing, and train them to help. (If you need ideas, check out our chore chart— FYI, the ages of the kids listed are 12, 10, 8, 6, & 4.)
- Talk to your church Body– ask other moms how they do x, y, and z. Humble yourself, get advice, and be willing to implement it. (One thought here: don’t look to complainers… look to women who seem to have found a level of peace and calm in the area where you are stressed.)
- Look to your church Body- if there are legitimate needs that are beyond what you can carry, this is one the “one anothering” of Scripture kicks in. See who in your Body might be able to help carry your burden during this season. (Especially if you have “mommy martyr” tendencies, look carefully at who you ask. Don’t merely ask the person who will embarrass you least. Try to ask the person who has the ability/time/energy to give what you need.)
A healthy mom actively works to meet the needs of everyone in her household. She includes HERSELF as a person in the household. There may be times when she steps up to do a task despite overwhelming exhaustion, but over the long haul, she works hand-in-hand alongside her family and doesn’t hold expectations over others. She expresses her needs and asks for help when she needs it.
One way we can avoid burnout is by more intentionally stewarding ourselves. When we recognize that our bodies, minds, time, and energy are given to us by God, rather than simply using them up, we can seek to care for them and use them well.
PLEASE SHARE IN THE COMMENTS:
- What’s one thing you can begin doing to actively steward *YOU* more faithfully?