‘Tis the season for Christmas. I love to Christmas decorate, bake, and entertain this time of year. I begin decorating the day after Thanksgiving once all the Thanksgiving decorations are stored. I awaken early to the excitement of decorating by pulling out all the containers of Christmas decorations. I do not like containers sitting around, therefore, I unpack and replace them back to storage, leaving decorations out of place everywhere. Image this, most every room in the house has unpacked decorations. Yes, I create a huge mess. Methodically I go from room to room placing the decorations while listening to Christmas music by Christian artists. I block off days of not going anywhere. Each morning begins very early, usually skipping lunch, and the day ends at dinner time. Slowly each room is transformed into Christmas. After decorating is completed, I spend days Christmas baking, socializing, shopping, and wrapping gifts. That all sounds great BUT…part-way through my routine last year, I complained to George, “I am so tired I can hardly put one foot in front of the other. What is wrong with me?” I used to be like the Energizer Bunny that “kept on going and going and going.”
My husband answered my question with a few questions. “Do you think . . . ?” he kept asking, until the fifth question when I told him to stop. That was the question concerning my age! He also reminded me while I was Christmas crazy, that many of my projects, other than Christmas, seem to end up over and above what is necessary! I disliked his statement about age, (my mind thinks 20 years younger but my body says otherwise), and his questions proved true! My expectations and priorities were out of whack, leading to stress and fatigue both physically and mentally. I was stretched beyond the grace the Lord had given me. I could stop and give myself permission to rest, but I continued to press onward.
Have you felt tired and worn out by the things you think you have to do? Looking up scriptures on rest, I found 28 verses concerning work and rest, 72 verses about physical rest, and about 60 referring to peaceful rest. Do you think the Lord knew we would try to be super humans and go without rest? God set an example by taking the seventh day to rest. The definition for resting is, “ceasing to move or act; ceasing to be moved or agitated; lying; leaning; standing.” In my case, I needed to stop pushing beyond the limits of my ability and begin resting.
Unrest is a very vulnerable place to be. The enemy is always looking for an inroad to disrupt our peace and cause conflict. When I am physically and mentally tired, I become stressed, and I have learned it is not a time to be around people. I become negative-minded, upset over tiny things, and usually open my mouth without thinking. The ploy of the enemy causes me to lash out, and I need to apologize to my husband for the things I say. It is easy to put on that smiley face when others are around, but since he lives with me, he gets to see the good, the bad, the ugly, and unfortunately, he gets the brunt of my stress. When this happens, he tries to stay out of my way by immersing himself in his office or in a project.
But who or what was the captain of my soul? Stress and unrest. My zeal was not after Him; it was for all the tasks swirling around me. That day the Lord convicted me of my self-centeredness by taking my eyes off of Him and thinking I, (with a large capital and in bold), had a large amount to accomplish and it had to be in my time frame. No one had put limits upon me, but I put limits upon myself. I had picked up the heavy boulder of stress and unrest, set it upon my shoulders, and carried it around. My shoulders became tense and my legs became wobbly.
My attitude was, “It’s all about me and I can do it!” Ouch, that hurt my heart because Scripture tells me in Matthew 6:33 (NLT), “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Where does it say in scripture to Christmas decorate until I am exhausted? Where does it say wear those colorful sticky notes on my arms and clothes to remind me of things I think I have to get done?
In addition, He opened my eyes to the realization some things are not worth wearing me down or keeping me awake at night. I would hear myself saying to my husband, “I have to get this done because I cannot sleep over the fact it isn’t accomplished.” His reply again was a question, “Why?” As I speak the reasons, my answers sounded ridiculous. I have to learn to focus on what is truly important and what can wait or be let go. Being mastered by my thoughts of what has to be done is unhealthy. God wants me to master my thoughts and emotions of needed rest. I have begun stepping back and accomplishing what I can do for that day and not become discouraged if it isn’t accomplished. I try to schedule a day of resting by reading a book, watching a movie, or doing whatever brings pleasure without stress. I need to be reminded of the saying, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
Lastly, I have to admit I cannot add unnecessary things to my list when they can wait. When people ask something of me, I want to be available unless I am at my limit. If it’s urgent I’ll make time. Learning to say no when most times I said yes is hard. When the answer is no, people who ask for my time have been understanding if I explained the reason. It is important to give myself permission to say no. There is a time and place for yes, but stressed and need of rest days are not those days.
Even knowing what I know, I will continue to fall prey to the stresses in this life that tire me out, but my prayer is to recognize the nudge from my wonderful Lord who will quickly remind me it is not about the stresses of life but about Him. “The grass withers, the flowers fades, But the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8 NKJV). All these tiring stresses in life will fade in time, and I will look back and question why I let them cause me so much aggravation. Let me encourage you, time is precious and those things that cause you to become tired and stressed are not worth it. We are in a season of our lives right now which things are fast paced. I have needed to put the brakes on.
“Therefore , since the promise of entering his rest still stands let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it” (Hebrews 4:1 NIV).
Stop, smell the roses or whatever flower you like, and enjoy the presence of rest. DO NOT feel guilty. It is a time of refreshment.
Lord, I am so grateful for the Holy Spirit living inside of me. You are my Helper at all times. Please give me those nudges when I am getting myself into stressful situations. Help me stop beginning my day with a list, but to start my day by spending quality time with You. Thank you for Your continued love, Your patience with me, Your grace, and Your mercy when I let my flesh run the day. You are truly the One who is most important and deserves my full attention. Thank You for being the Lord of my life. Amen.