I am a “yes” person. When it comes to my job, my friends, or my family, I always want to say YES! Yes to helping people, yes to being with people and yes to loving someone better. I thrive saying yes, knowing that I’m saying yes to God’s work of loving people.
But I easily forget a crucial piece in this life of love: myself. I end up not prioritizing my time with the Lord or exercising or eating well. I run on empty, trying to do the Lord’s work from a place of my own strength instead of being fueled by Him. And it begins to show in all aspects of my life, especially my job.
As a high school math teacher, I need to be able to both teach my students math well and love them. But none of this gets accomplished when I am working out of exhaustion. Loving with my own power, my patience runs dry, and I end the day frustrated and spent. And I think the kids end up there, too.
One day, feeling overwhelmed and depleted, the Lord challenged me to stop and breathe. Living the Christian walk requires sacrifice, but not burnout. When I run to the Lord first, even when my time is short, His power rests in me. It becomes Him through me that is teaching my students math, and it is His presence that is making them feel known and loved.
So, I challenge you to pause, take a breath and consider: are you running on empty? Are you relating to God? Have you been exercising lately? What are your eating habits? Have you set aside time each day to take care of you? Because living a life of overflow requires self-care. It requires you being nourished and refreshed by the Holy Spirit so you can live and love to the fullest.
If you are pressed for time but need to get re-started on caring for yourself by connecting to God, here are two ideas. (Just try one of them.)
- Make a short list of times when you have felt particularly close to God and what you were doing at that time. Try to be as specific as possible. Pick one of those things that require a little effort (for example, setting aside 10 minutes to pray) and make time to do it this week. If it works, try it again and try it more often. Keep it simple. If it doesn’t work, try something else.
- From the same list, look for things that make you smile (or make you cry) that you do as part of your everyday life. It can be something you watch or read, certain people you interact with or just looking at the sky, passing by a beautiful tree or otherwise reflecting on creation – and its Creator. The next time you find yourself already doing one of the things, just say a short prayer: “God, you are indeed mighty!”
If you want to explore more ideas for staying close to God in a busy world, try working through this exercise.