Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Three Days

This week I took three days off work.  I was longing for a break and I desperately needed to go through our closets.  Matt laughs at me because my chore of choice around the house is rearranging closets or the pantry.  Never mind the gunk building up on the sinks.  As long as my closets are organized, I'm happy.

Because my kids had prearranged places to be, I looked forward to this time alone. An introvert by nature, I long for time to myself, but I rarely get it.  Between working full-time, teaching a class at church on Wednesday nights, attending another class on Sunday nights, meeting with a committee on Sunday afternoons, laundry, cooking, grocery shopping...well, I feel like I'm doing well just to get through each day.  Each day that, mind you, starts at 5 a.m. so I can get all of the above accomplished.

Whew. I'm tired just thinking about it.

My three days off were more fulfilling than I ever anticipated.  And more than just because my closets make me smile.  I learned some valuable lessons that will help me to balance my life a little better from now on.

1. I. Need. Rest.  And I'm not talking about physical rest. Trust me, after going through my own closet, I was whooped.  I'm talking about mental rest.  I realized that I've been running on empty for so long I didn't know what it felt like to be refueled.  Rest for me (an introvert) is time away from my responsibilities, including my children (and that's hard to take because working full-time I feel like I owe them every ounce of free time I have).  Yet that rest is crucial, and I'm not going to get that rest unless I carve out time for it.

2. I don't need near as much time to get that rest as I thought I did.  Do you ever find yourself famished, anticipating a huge meal, ready to eat it all, and after a few bites find that you're getting full - way too early! Then of course you stuff yourself because you had convinced yourself that you needed all that food.  That was me this week. I carved out three days.  But sometime during the second day I realized I could have been satisfied with just one.  I need rest, but less than I realized.

3. I treasure my kids.  That seems like a "duh" statement, but at the rate I was going, I found that their needs had become items to check off my daily to-do list because I was so overwhelmed (and laden with guilt for feeling that way instead of treasuring these fleeting years to the fullest).  I started envying women whose kids were already grown because they had free time.  I started longing for the days that my kids were older and I could just cook one meal without a toddler yelling (ever so sweetly), "up, up, UP!" (cooking with a 25-pound child on your hip isn't easy).  But you know what I found? After just a little while away from them, I started to miss them.  The quiet house I longed for started to feel lonely.  I had resolved not to watch mindless TV during my 3 days and my K-Love radio wasn't keeping me company. I missed Drew playing with his Transformers in the living room, and I missed Alyssa's chatter about Elmo, books, and of course, puffs.  I missed my kids so much I even went to get Alyssa early today (gasp!) and we enjoyed a wonderful afternoon before picking Drew up from preschool.

Yes, I need rest.  It reminded me of what my pastor said on Sunday about the Ten Commandments. When you need to find your way home, go back to those commandments.  I'm realizing how much truth there is in that.  The commandment I needed to go back to was the one where we are commanded to rest.  I always just assumed that moms got a pardon from that one because anyone knows that even if a mom with young children isn't "working," she's certainly not "resting."  I just assumed at this stage of my life, rest wasn't possible.

But God created us with a need for rest. A need for him.  And just like I make time for everything else in my life, I must make time for rest.

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