Before this last year, the concept of doing things to “take care of myself” was totally foreign. Honestly, it felt like if I did do things that I felt I needed, I was being selfish, especially when I became a mom. But then I hit a hard rock bottom, and I was forced to listen—really listen—to reason on this issue. I was not made to walk this journey on my own strength, and learning to care for my needs has equipped me to better serve others…especially my own family.
However, I am still a work in progress, and I can still be stubbornly resistent to taking what I have come to refer to as “me time”. I struggle even more when my littles look at me with big eyes and plead to spend that time with them instead…usually as I am trying to walk out the door. And when they bat their beautiful pearly eyes at me, I now kneel down at their level and tenderly whisper the following:
“Mommy needs to go have some time alone with Jesus. If you do not allow me that time, then big, mean, scary mommy might emerge…the mommy that raises her voice and has visions of duct taping you to the wall while she locks herself in the bathroom for just one moment of quiet. You see, it is only time with Jesus—and possibly a cup of tea—that helps me to be a sweet, loving and patient mommy. Ok?”
(Disclaimer: never have I, nor would I, duct tape my children in any way…though they think it sounds like great fun.)
Maybe it is the desperation in my voice, the wild look in my eyes, or the realization that they don’t want a mean, scary mommy…but they usually nod and stomp away pouting their serious pout. And that is when I leave, ushered out with pleas from my dear husband to indeed take all the time I need, who clearly learned that “me time” does indeed benefit us all.
And so, yesterday; tired, hair pulled into a messy pony tail, and with not one hint of make-up; I ventured out to one of my favorite local spots: upper Bidwell Park. Jesus allows me to come to him just as I am…and that can be a dirty, messy, crazy sort of business.
I don’t know what it is about Bidwell Park that stirs me to silence, though I am leaning toward the idea that it offers me the illusion that I have indeed left suburbia and I am alone (at least partially) with my maker. There are many things I have learned can bring me refreshment and renewal, but nothing—and I mean nothing —compares to my time alone with God. Nothing.
And so I sat and poured out my every concern and heartache to the one who longs to carry it for me. And I asked, as I often do, for him to speak, to give me something, anything. I want to hear his voice, the whispers of the holy spirit, clearly and distinctly. And then I was still. Totally still. A concept that I used to be unable to bear, to be quiet, still and vulnerable before my Lord.
Then the clouds broke and a bright beam of light fell down directly on me, warming me, and drawing tears to my eyes as the peace flowed in. The sunbeam lasted less then a minute, but that peace, oh that dear sweet peace…it lingers on. Truly, he does not give as this world gives. His comfort so often comes through the gift of his peace. His love manifests as he wraps me in the cloak of his peace, his presence and his love.
To be still, to receive his peace…it may be the greatest gift he gives second only to salvation. And then I realized something I never have before… Maybe no words are necessary, not when you are enveloped in his peace.
“My peace I leave with you…”
What an amazing gift. The promise was not a life free of storms…but of a life where he provides the raft, one that he can keep in perfect peace in the midst of the storms. That is truly ”…not as the world gives.”
And, as I sat watching the sun set, the light dancing across the blades of grass and weeds, I was reminded of a beautiful old hymn:
‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
And to take Him at his word;
Just to rest upon His promise,
And to know, “Thus saith the Lord.”
Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him!
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus!
O for grace to trust Him more!”
And then, because I just had to know the rest of the words and could not remember them to safe my life, I did the super spiritual act of “googling” them. And I am not too proud to admit that as the tears warmed my chilled face I was deeply moved by the words of this stanza:
Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease;
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.
Oh, dear me. Yes, just from sin and self to cease… To rest. To be still. To be swallowed up in the rest, joy and peace that only God can give. And my I further echo the words of this writer, nay my prayer: O for grace to trust him more!
Are you taking time for yourself? What are your favorite things to do that bring you refreshment and renewal?