It really is true that sometimes you need a vacation to recover from your vacation. That is where I have existed this week. My husband and I spent last week in sunny Florida trying to be big kids at the Disney parks in Orlando. We enjoyed our time away, but we definitely found out we are not as young as we used to be. Nor are we as young as we want to think we are. About halfway through day four we were just done. Done with theme parks. Done with the crowds. Done physically. I found out that I value sleep a lot more than I used to. I found out that walking four miles at Disney with the stopping and starting in long lines, is a lot different and a lot more taxing than walking four miles with my dogs in Post, Texas. It was too much for us. My new vacation philosophy, at least for now, is give me a relaxing beach or a cabin in the mountains – anywhere really where I can unplug and unwind without having to rush off to the next place or stand in line for hours.
I am glad to be home. But I have found myself largely going through the motions this week. I need a vacation to recover from my vacation. This is partly due to the over abundance of everything Disney, partly due to our luggage taking an extra day to get home, partly due to the oh-dark-thirty hour that we had to leave the hotel to catch our flight back to Lubbock, and partly due to the weather the last couple of days. I was emotionally and physically done with this week before it started. All I want right now is to curl up in my recliner with a comfy blanket, a good book in hand, and a dog snuggling in my lap. And maybe in an hour or two when my work week is officially complete that will happen. I especially need it today. I am tired and drained. I need to take care of me today.
One of the things I struggle with the most as a pastor and as a person is self-care. It is a hazard of the job and of who I am to always put other people ahead of myself. On the surface that may seem admirable. However, it is true that you cannot pour water out of an empty cup. If I do not take time to take care of myself, I will have nothing to give when it comes time to take care of others. Jesus knew this well. We are told so many times throughout the gospels that Jesus took time for Himself. He took time to nap. He took time to eat. He took time to be with his friends. He took time away from the crowds to grieve and to refresh. He took time to go away by Himself just to pray and be with His Father. And then He came back to where the people were to teach and preach and serve. We were built in the same way. God lovingly created us in God’s image. Jesus was the human embodiment of God’s image and an example that we are to follow. Yes, we are made to work and serve people. We are made to use our minds and to be creative. We are made to play and enjoy life. But we are also made to rest. Even God took a day off.
Can we truly say that we are better or stronger than God? I don’t think so! Yet we so often try to be, especially when we are the type who always has to be doing something or who always feels the need to take care of others on their time instead of ours. None of us can be “on” all the time. Even when we are energized by being around others (hello all you extroverts), every once in a while we need to take time to relax, unwind, and rest. Today I am trying to remember that God rested on the seventh day. Today I am trying to remember that Jesus took naps, especially in stormy weather. Today I am trying to remember that I need to follow the example of my God and my Savior. I need time to rest, to nap, to take care of myself. This, I think, is a lesson all of us need to be reminded of from time to time. Down time is not wasted. Idle time is important. So yes, do your work and live your life. But in that life always include time to rest and take care of yourself. Pencil it into your calendar if you need to. If rest is something that God felt the need to do, how much more do we need to do it for ourselves?