Part Two of Three
Logically, we all know that bills, home repairs, children and their demands, marriages in different stages, and additional family or work stress can take a toll on us. Add to that volunteer work in school, the community, or the church, and suddenly even hobbies and previously enjoyable ministry work seem to overwhelm and fatigue us rather than inspire or rejuvenate us. And as women often entrusted with the role of family nurturer and caregiver to the children, our instincts are to take on everyone else’s stress as well. Sometimes we are telling everyone else that it’s all going to be okay, and we are feeling quite the opposite ourselves—unable to sleep or function in our once calm and enjoyable lives.
We have the tendency to focus on the negative when we feel that pleasurable activities have become a burden. In our last post on women and burnout in ministry, we learned that we all go through the same stress cycle, and that many times this cycle is so familiar to us that we just allow, rather than stop, the destructive patterns of behavior. While we are certainly not suggesting that any of us deliberately seek destructive patterns, we can all admit that we do tend to take on too much on occasion and then seem to think that part of our responsibility is to also handle the stress or the overwhelming to do lists, workloads, and tasks at hand on our own.
However, if we remember that God sends so many truly good things our way, we can begin to focus on the positive things in life again despite having many roles as mother, wife, employee, and ministry leader. Even the most cynical of us can admit to enjoying an occasional sunset at the end of a long day spent at work, tending to family, or working in ministry. And we can all appreciate the comfort of a warm bed, a meal prepared just for us, conversations with our children and friends, and the devotion of a husband or other close family member. These things help us. They refocus us. We need to begin to see them not as guilty pleasures or indulgences but as everyday blessings—the ebb and flow of a busy life that also allows for downtime and the simple enjoyment of the little things.
In Isaiah 43, 1 – 3 (NIV), we are told:
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
When we truly listen to those words, we do understand that God sends us what we need to get through the most difficult times in our lives. God tells us what we need to do when we ask Him, and He will always send us what we need to get through the most stressful times. We need to give our attention to what God is telling us about our commitments and our lives. We need to trust in Him for guidance when we need it most.