And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” Mark 6:31
My sister Megan is a social worker. She’s worked primarily with aging populations and hospice patients, and now works with people recently diagnosed with cancer. It’s — unsurprisingly — one of the fields of employment with the highest burnout. She’s an amazing person, generous of heart and spirit and enthusiastic about her work, but she learned quickly that she can’t maintain that in the face of so much heartbreak through force of will alone. Megan has always been one of my guiding lights in terms of self care, recently more than ever.
When a fire is burning out, if someone throws a log on it, we pretty much accept that as normal. Rarely have I heard at a campout, “Seriously? You are accommodating that fire? It’s just doing its job! I never had a log thrown at me and I’m doing just fine.” But people are expected to go-go-go without a break because we have to hustle to succeed. We have to “lean in.” We have to be Business B’s and Boss Moms. We have to save the world, and quickly. Well, I’m no good to anyone without sleep, time alone in a quiet room every day, and a long walk in the morning. I have no fuel. And when I don’t have fuel, I usually turn to the lighter fluid of righteous rage and just power off that for a while. “HOW CAN I BE THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN PUT A DISH IN THE DISHWASHER?!”
There is no shame in putting fuel in your fire. For some people the bubble bath vibe doesn’t work and they need to vent to a trusted friend. For some people it’s time at the gym or the dojo or the driveway basketball hoop. But whatever lights you up is what you should run toward. Instead of focusing on productivity all the time, I try to allow myself a little time each day to do nothing, guilt-free. Not nothing (except paint my toenails) or nothing (except read this book on boundaries I’ve been meaning to get to) but real, untainted, nothing but sitting and waiting on the Lord. Because we need our strength wherever we can get it.
~ Laura Paquette, Family Council Chair