A few Saturdays ago, I sprained my ankle while coming down our stairs toward the garden. Moving too fast, I misjudged where the sidewalk ended, and the grass deceived me into believing the ground was taller than it was. My ankle rolled. HARD.
I *HEARD* cracking noises, y’all. Yikes!
But you know what? By Monday morning I felt better, so… Monday and Tuesday, I walked around all day. Afterward, (are you rolling your eyes?) I’d never felt such pain in my ankle. So I wore the protective “boot” all night and kept my foot elevated all day for more than a week. It healed, and four weeks later, I’m walking just fine.
Finally, through pain, I’d learned the lesson I should’ve learned from the start.
The problem is that in my head I’m still 17. I still (stupidly) believe my body will heal and quickly go back to normal like it did half my life ago. I wrongly think I can get back fully into action without proper rest.
But I’m 35. Reality strikes again.
What about you?
I think many of us do this same thing with the level of our commitments and family calendars. We do too much, and (like my ankle) our already-overtaxed souls pay the price. Do you hear it in our conversations? I do… Our society is more “stressed,” “busy,” “anxious,” and “tired” than ever.
So I wonder– are you acting, physically or commitment-wise, like you have more to give than is actually the case? Are you running around, doing more than you can actually handle?
If so, I have some thoughts to share with you.
LEARNING WHEN TO PULL BACK & REST
#1- CONSIDER, AND RE-CONSIDER, YOUR COMMITMENTS—
When it comes to commitments in real life (unlike with my ankle) I’m usually pretty good about recognizing my limitations and saying “no.” We go in cycles with our homeschool co-op, for example. Sometimes we commit and do it wholeheartedly, but I know that if I can’t do it fully and joyfully, that’s a semester that I need to pull back and not overextend our family (which is the case this fall). Carefully consider what you say “yes” to, and then reconsider that commitment each time you are given the opportunity.
#2- REMEMBER THAT LIFE HAS SEASONS–
I recently faced a dilemma about what to do with November. For two years now, I’ve completed NaNoWriMo and loved it. I have two (not-yet-published) novels as a result of those 30-day writing-free-for-alls. This year, though, the last week of October arrived, with me still not entirely sure what I needed to do. Doug & I talked it through, and ultimately, I decided to pull back and rest. This year, November is being used for the everyday things that might otherwise get crowded out: schooling and read-alouds and snuggling with little ones and crocheting and talking with my older kids and organizing/unpacking. And rest. NaNoWriMo didn’t fit our lives this year. Don’t feel compelled to do something just because others are, or because you have in the past. Allow yourself to live life in seasons; not as one big blob of ongoing commitments.
#3- PURPOSEFULLY REST, RATHER THAN REACTIVELY RESTING TO HEAL FROM OVER-DOING IT–
Basically, what I’m saying here is: unlike my example with the ankle, recognize when you have taxed your family beyond what is healthy or normal, and TAKE TIME TO REST. If you’ve had a busy few weeks (church & school commitments? holidays? appointments?), BUILD REST INTO YOUR ROUTINE. It is better to rest on the front end, than to be forced to rest because everyone’s been pushed beyond their max. As mom, one of our jobs is to be that thermometer that “reads” our family’s temperature and can gauge when we’ve been doing more than we should. Don’t feel bad about pulling back to rest.
#4- BUILD MARGIN INTO YOUR LIFE–
One of the things I’ve learned about life is that I need “margin” (<—— By the way, THAT is an excellent book). Margin, like the white space around the page in our school days, is the “extra” space we leave ourselves around the musts of life. We all need it, but very few of us are purposeful about it. Most of us don’t leave ourselves any extra space in life, and then wonder why we’re so exhausted, stressed out, and filled with anxiety. By purposefully building margin into our lives, we are caring for ourselves and for our families… leaving the breathing room that will help keep us sane and healthy.
Even if “everyone else” is running themselves and their families ragged, is that really the way you want to run your family? When you hear the comments swirling around you about how “tired” everyone is, and how “much they want to get together” (but somehow never manage to do it), and how “stressed” they are, is that really the way you want to live?
You can do this. Don’t overcommit your family. Don’t teach your children to run their bodies and souls into the ground.
Bless your whole family by giving them the gift of adequate margin & rest.
So… How do you do, friend, with pulling back to rest?
Giving yourself, and your family, rest?
Treating yourself as a person worthy of care?
- Are you comfortable saying “no,” even to things you’ve done in the past?
- Do you live according to the seasons of your life, or pressure yourself to do it all, right now?
- Do you over-commit? Or do you give yourself and your family “margin?”