We've all seen the studies regarding the increase of stress coinciding with the influx of screens and social media in our society. We are busier than ever with practices, extra curriculars, volunteering, work from home jobs, and keeping up with the Joneses. Modern conveniences cut down the time required for some necessary tasks, but instead of using that time to invest in relationships and eternity, we find more tasks to fill our time. Or maybe that's just me...
We all encounter it. Some possess a unique ability to steer clear of it - to live lives embracing the beautiful truth of Philippians 4:6-8. Others... like myself... tend to not only encounter but embrace stress.
Over the past 3 years, our family has faced some challenges. I'm sure your family has, too. Because 3 years is a long time, and challenges are simply part of life.
I've skated - and cried - through some of the hardships. Attachment struggles, trauma behaviors, the addition of family members, a birth that threatened my and our son's lives, frightening diagnosis, life-threatening allergic reactions, job loss, financial struggles, surgeries, injuries that required massive rehabilitation.
The hyper-vigilance that was required to keep everyone safe for a season has taken a toll. I find myself in flight-fight-or-freeze mode far more often than I'd like. Our circumstances are settling and routines are flowing smoothly... but there are times my heart pounds and tears threaten because the overwhelm of pushing through so much for so long has settled, too.
I don't know what your story is. I don't know where the areas of struggle are in your life. But, I'm guessing if you've read this far, you've felt the sting of stress, too.
Lord knows there have been times where I have checked off science for the day following an educational animal show. Veggie Tales has bought me enough time to shower, or finish up a blog post. And I really look forward to watching tv with my husband after the kids are in bed.
But sometimes, the noise, flashing lights, and the time it sucks up are too much. I recently read that the average adult American watches 4 hours of TV a day. That's 28 hours a week. 28 hours! We watch about 2 hours a night... and that's 2 hours we could invest in a million other ways... most importantly, our relationships with God and each other.
Have you wondered if the screen is controlling too much space and time in your home?
Social media is a gift to the work-at-home-stay-at-home-homeschooling-mom who desperately needs connection with the outside world and people who talk about things other than snacks, poop, and legos.
And yet, this beautiful tool for connection so often becomes a dangerous magnet for comparison.
Just this afternoon, I looked at my husband through tears and declared I was a failure. "What are you talking about?" he asked. I went on to list a dozen women who have it more together than I do in a dozen different areas. I confessed that the past 3 years just feel like too much - even though they're behind us and we've seen the faithfulness of God through them all.
He gently, but firmly reminded me about the danger of comparisons, acknowledged how hard things have been, encouraged me to stop trying to do it all and then told me to stop basing my worth on things I saw on facebook. I wasn't offended. I was relieved. He called me out in love, and I knew he was right.
Perhaps you, too, have found yourself admiring others. Wondering how Jennie keeps her house so meticulous and decorated like Magnolia Farms, and Karen never raises her voice at her kids, and Wendy runs a 6 figure business from home, and Ivy has adopted 12 kids with varying special needs, and Sharon's tribe does montesorri style learning while gleaning wisdom from the fields and raising farm animals on their homestead, and Tina's family looks like J Crew models all the time.
When we get so caught up in admiring others, we can overlook the Giver of good gifts who blessed each of them with strengths... and who also blessed us with irrevocable gifts He desires for us to use for His glory.
a summer sabbath.
When we go through seasons of intense challenge, our body often holds on to that stress until it's safe to process it. It is not uncommon to have times of exhaustion and overwhelm following the culmination of a season of hard. And that's okay. We can be proactive in welcoming healing in to our hearts and bodies by taking a sabbath that refreshes our spirit and soul.
And so, I suggest to you, friends - a summer sabbath. It will look different for each person, but what if we got really purposeful about exchanging the stress we've embraced for a season of sabbath? A time of resting in the holy presence of God. A time for being intentional, not for the purpose of accomplishing tasks but for the sake of strengthening relationships?
Here's what my summer sabbath is going to look like:
For the month of June, we are shutting down screens as a family. Aside from hubby's real estate business and a weekly bill/email check, there will be no screen time in our house. Social media requires a screen, so naturally, that'll be on break, too. I am backing off work, volunteering, deep cleaning, and home improvement projects. I'm going to cook from scratch, tend our garden, adventure with my people, read God's word and good books, and take time to breathe as the dust of this past hard season settles. I'm going to choose to lay aside striving to do more and fill every free moment with productivity. (because, confession: I rarely just enjoy watching tv with my husband. I am almost always using that time to multi-task a volunteer or work project!)
I know not everyone can take that kind of time. Truly, I'm blessed to be a homeschooling work-from-home mom whose job won't disappear after taking time off. Maybe a summer sabbath looks like taking a day a week, every weekend, or 2 hours every night. Perhaps you need to sign off social media for a while. Or say 'no' to the volunteer or overtime opportunity. This might be a good time to step away from projects and extra curriculars - not for good, but for a season of sabbath rest.
Most of us can't just sign off without notice. When you have a family and home to manage, going off grid in any capacity takes some planning. I know there are some things I want to accomplish before the beginning of June - like finishing up school and a deep cleaning project.
Wondering how to practically go about a summer sabbath? Try this:
a special note to mommas who are in the midst of hard.
I see you. You're the mom who has fought long and hard to hold it together while everything around you was falling apart. You're the one who people admire for their strength, while your weakness feels crushing. You're the one who is loving hard against all odds and holding on to hope in Him alone. You're the one researching a diagnosis, making changes to diets and routines and systems. You're the one educating others so your child doesn't feel isolated and educating yourself because the professionals never seem to know enough about your kid. You're the one who rises early and goes to bed late and only sits down to drive to appointments or sessions. You're the one who is tired and wondering how on earth you can take a sabbath when the world is spiraling out of control and you can't get off this crazy ride.
I see you. And I'm sorry. This is not meant to be a burden to you. I know there was a time when any kind of rest was nigh impossible because the onslaught of crazy and hard just came like one tidal wave after another, taking me under.
So if you're reading this, feeling like those of us needing sabbath are blessed enough just to be on the other side - it's okay to feel that way. And when the crazy hard settles in your life, please give yourself the grace to embrace sabbath for yourself. Not as a burden of necessity, but as the grace of God.
Friend, whatever season you find yourself in, I am praying for you. I am asking the God of all grace to cover you in His faithfulness and refresh you with His love. I am praying that you find the space and time to take a sabbath - and that your spirit and soul are refreshed for your good and His glory! If there's anything specific I can pray for you about, please feel free to comment or message me through my contact page!
Here you will find the musings of a homeschooling, work from home, adoptive Momma of 7! Adventures in faith, family, adoption, and training up a tribe to follow hard after Jesus are spilled into these posts --- most often written with a cup of coffee in hand. I hope you'll stick around a while and find something - more likely SOMEONE! - that brings you hope!
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