I don’t always think deep and meaningful thoughts. I do spend a lot of time thinking about shallow and trivial matters……what to put on the meal plan for this week…..I like that ladies shirt, wonder where that’s from…..why did my child place all eight rolls of toilet paper on the ground, around the toilet……
But lately, when I have been thinking about more meaningful things, it’s been things along the lines of living better, vulnerability, honesty and doing well in all the seasons of life.
Actually, it’s very important schtufff, important to get right. Because I want my life to point towards Jesus, and that isn’t going to happen if I’m sinking because of life’s demands, and not swimming.
Most of us, if not all of us, live lives that are comprised of things we have to or need to do; demands we must fill, as well as things we choose to do. I know I’m in a season of life at the moment that sees me committing time and energy to things I simply must do as well as things I willingly and lovingly say yes to. My days and nights are full, but I very much steer clear from the glorification of ‘busy’, instead I know and see the need for that trendy wee word at the moment…..’busy’ meet ‘self-care’, ‘self-care’ meet ‘busy’.
How we each need to look after ourselves is different for every person; we all have different capacities with what we can handle as far as schedules and commitments go. It is also entirely possible to feel major guilt and shame over the fact you may not be looking after yourself as well as you could, and you know that’s not right too. Glory.
So what can we do to swim better while in the fast moving currents in our lives? And how can we best support and love those around us who are in a ‘full’ season? Here is my ten cents worth on this……
For the cheering squads:
It’s hard seeing someone you care about getting really tired and worn out, but there are things you can do as a friend that can make a load of difference…….
* Don’t tell someone that they are too busy. They know their life is full already. They probably already feel some frustration and concern about it themselves. Some better questions to ask might be; ‘out of the things you’re giving your time to, is there something you feel you could let go?’ And, ‘out of the things you’re choosing to do, is there anything in that mix that isn’t life-giving to you’. Those two questions aren’t accusatory, but could well provide some food for thought, that then produces better ‘results’.
* Be there for them. Just be there. Provide plenty of smiles, hugs, pats on the shoulder and thumbs up, if anyone ever does that anymore. That physical support speaks volumes and helps to build trust, so that if and when things in the life of your ‘struggling to swim’ friend do turn to custard, they know that yours is a shoulder they feel safe to fully dissolve on.
* Keep a watchful eye on the basics……is your friend getting enough sleep? Eating enough good food? And doing something, sometime in their weeks that does something to re-charge their soul?
* Keep inviting them to be a part of your life happenings, even if and when you know the answer will be ‘no they can’t because of x, y, or z’. Full schedules can be terribly isolating, and the benefits of knowing that others still value your company far outweigh the negatives of knowing that this is just another thing you have to politely decline.
For those of you in the throes of a full schedule:
* Be real and honest with people about how you are doing and where you are at with things. This probably means making yourself vulnerable a tad. Gulp. This means opening your gob and trying to put words to feelings. Even bigger gulp. But as yours truly has been learning to do this……… it isn’t as scary as it could be, and the end result actually brings great comfort.
* Be real and honest with yourself, remind yourself that boundaries and limits are necessary. There are some great books around on these things if you need help in those areas.
* It really does help, with whatever you’re facing, if your attitude is positive and your chin is up, as much as it can be. There’s a whole ‘nother ten cents worth written about that here.
* If you can go about your days and especially face the obligations and commitments that you HAVE to do with a sense of genuine joy then you’re going to be able to sustain this lifestyle that you’re in much longer, than if you’re facing things without that same sense of joy. The things you choose to do, because you can and because you want to do them, I bet they naturally give you a sense of accomplishment, achievement and joy…….but the things you HAVE to do….that’s a tougher gig…..look for joy. Ask God for joy. Ask your trusted friends to pray for you to have joy. The joy of our Lord is our strength. (Nehemiah 8: 10).
* Tell your (bad) friend, Guilt, to take a jump. And to go far, far away. You are doing the very best that you can do. Life is all about seasons. This current season will not last forever, and you need to be ok with you, to be joyful in all you do.
There are a few verses in Matthew 11 (28 – 30) I’ve been thinking about a lot lately in relation to all of this doing life well in the throes of a full life….(from The Message translation) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
These verses speak volumes to me, about how to do life well, even a busy life. To me it’s about companionship with God – not doing things for God, but with God. The whole unforced rhythms of grace….I’m thinking that’s like learning to swim strongly in whatever currents you may find yourself in…being able to tread water when the going is easy and when the waves come relentlessly crashing in, while not being taken too far off course. Circumstances may be hard, demands on us may be awful, but because of WHO we know, and WHO we’re trusting, WHO our eyes are on, we’re not taken off course. And the thing with lessons? With learning a new hobby or skill, the teacher is there as your guide, your encourager, your instructor. A good teacher is setting you up for success. And because I believe my God is a good, good God, then He’s most definitely a good teacher, and with His help and instruction, we’re able to swim, we’re able to navigate through whatever waters we find ourselves in. The unforced rhythms of grace also speak to me of freedom to be yourself, because you are loved with absolutely no strings attached. I’m keen to walk freely and lightly, and though my load may not feel that light at times, I know I can have a beautiful exchange with God. And swim through many, deep waters with Him.