I (Tracy) planned the perfect afternoon. The half day of luxury anticipated over the week. It’s good to have something to look forward to. I hadn’t shared my plans with anyone, but they’d been swirling in my head like glitter suspended in the wind before settling back on solid earth. Sparkling and tantalizing, the allure of time to myself sustained me during another busy week.
It’s a season in which I need to make a conscious decision to hand worry and fear over in spite of how I might feel. God has been faithful to help me recognize those for what they are─tactics from the enemy to interfere with God’s plan.
I can’t carry worry and fear. They’d consume me. Be anxious for nothing. Be strong and courageous. Rest and trust in Him. That’s how Scripture directs.
Following that advice, I took a reprieve. Even as I stole out of work for a much-needed half day off, my parting words were, “I feel like a kid playing hookie from school.” But I was happily skipping off for some rest and relaxation in a manner meaningful to me.
The ability to abide in God’s prescribed rest and relaxation in spite of all that is looming tells me God has been working in me. I can’t sustain operating from an empty well and expect to be able to give anyone anything, let alone my best. I need my rest. I need simple pleasures that bring me joy. They aren’t selfish. They are gifts from God to sustain.
I need His sustaining power. My guess is you do too. We all have something big on our plates. If not now, we will.
I know a woman whose husband has altzheimers. That’s hard. I have a friend with four adventurous kids, and they are forever having to go to the ER. That’s hard. I have a friend whose child struggles with addiction. That’s hard. I have a friend who has had an awful custody battle over her children. That’s hard. I have a friend who has a prodigal child. That’s hard. There’s a whole lot of hard things we have to walk through in this world.
Revelation: the harder the thing, the more we need to make sure we have sufficient rest and relaxation. The hard things can deplete us. We need to recharge.
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
He restores my soul.
Psalm 23:1-3a ESV
I was desperate to “lie down” with my Shepherd in a coffee shop full of still waters and restore my soul. My need to recharge explains my reaction.
My husband called while I was driving home from work before I put my plan into action. Step one of my plan was to pick up the dog and drop him off for a much-needed grooming. He was a hot mess! (The dog, not my husband.)
Step two of my plan was to head over to Hidden Pearl coffee shop, tuck away in a corner, and write to my heart’s content (or at least until the groomer called and said Enoch was looking fresh and lovely).
Writing transports me to my “happy place”. Often God meets me there. It’s been hard to carve out creative time. I had been intentional in my plan to do so this day. Self-care to sustain me. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh
Ah, Ah, Ah — not so fast.
Sam – “I’ve got the afternoon off. I thought we could go to dinner (In my mind –‘At 3 in the afternoon?’) or we could go shopping while Enoch is getting groomed.” (In my mind, ‘I don’t want to go shopping. I want to do what I planned.’)
As an aside, you know a woman needs R&R when she has no desire to go shopping!
I got quiet as I wrestled to understand my feelings before responding. I love my husband. I want to spend time with him. So why was I feeling resentment? While this wasn’t reality, I felt an expectation to forgo my much-needed afternoon, because his plans had changed.
I was disappointed about the infringement upon my mini self-care retreat. I didn’t like feeling as if I had to accommodate someone else’s schedule change and forgo the very thing that would refuel me.
Mind you, Sam knew nothing of my plans. I hadn’t shared them. Normally, he’d have been at work, so I hadn’t felt the need.
When I told him what I had planned and how I was wrestling through emotions, he said I could keep my plans. Then guilt ratcheted up twisting me tight into its grip. We haven’t spent much time together. We’ve both been busy.
I quickly realized my feelings were rooted in false guilt like we’d talked about not too long ago in small group. It was absolutely okay I had plans to take care of myself. It was absolutely okay I had a time of refueling on my calendar. And it was absolutely okay if I told my husband “no”.
I needed to say no so that later I could say yes ─ to him and to others.
I’m not suggesting we never interrupt our plans. We should hold them loosely and listen to the leading of God when He wants us to release them. But in this instance, I was not feeling that prompting. It was the opposite. The enemy wanted me to feel guilty, when God wanted me to refuel.
The interesting thing is, as I was saying “no” to running errands, shopping, and a dinner that would have missed the five o’clock senior citizen rush, I got to say “yes”. Yes to myself. But also yes to my husband.
We worked out the perfect solution (thanks to Jesus for His quick answer to my silent prayer). I had no objections to my husband joining me at the coffee shop. He could do his thing. I could do mine. We could enjoy being at the same place at the same time. We did. I wrote. He did some projects. We sipped coffee in silence.
Self-care stayed on the calendar with a minor adjustment.
There’s an important fact about our little two letter word NO (and our ability to say it without remorse). To wrap up, here’s a few scribbles from the pages of my journal. I pray you are able to apply these principles to your life as well.
I need to know what I need and ensure I get what I need. Not in some grab-and-go, selfish, stealing kind of way. No. In a nurturing of self, sort of way — loving myself so that I can love others. In order to do that, there needs to be a “no” said to others — even others you love. … This is about me knowing what I need enough to say no.
Do you know what you need enough to say no? How is God asking you to grow in your awareness to know what you need? When do you find it difficult to say no?
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