What does it mean to be free? What does it mean to simply be?
When I am asked to describe myself, I often reply that I am PWLawyerMom - I am a pastor's wife ("PW"), lawyer, and mom of three amazing kids. PWLawyerMom is an accurate description of my roles in society, but this is not who I am. I've been so consumed with "doing", that I have forgotten what it means to "be". This blog explores my journey as I find the freedom to simply be.
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I am constantly looking for tips and tricks to be more efficient. I recently discovered an app that allows me to organize my “To Do List” by categories. The app even has a challenge to complete a set number of tasks each day.
When I first started using the app, I was excited. I had categories for work, home, family, shopping, and travel. I wrote down all of the items I needed to do and assigned due dates. After the first week, I was going strong. I either checked off an item as complete (that is the most amazing feeling in the world – to cross an item off of a to do list), or I changed the due date to give me more time.
Fast forward a few weeks to this moment. I now have 33 uncompleted items on my personal list. I have even more items that need to be completed on my work list. When I look at the list, I feel my heartbeat race, and I feel the crushing weight of anxiety in my chest. The app that was supposed to help me feel more organized and efficient has become another item on my to do list. Instead of feeling accomplished, I feel discouraged. Instead of feeling efficient, I feel like there is never enough time in a day. When I sit for five minutes on the couch, I feel guilty because I know that there are so many other important things I need to do.
I recognize that many of the items on the list do not matter in the big scheme of things. If I don’t wash the dishes tonight, the world will not end. Likewise, if I have to delay my response to a legal question until next week, I will not lose my job. However, many items on my list are important. For example, “Write Everyday Exiles Post” is on my list. “Purchase plane ticket for Kenya mission trip” is on the list. I also have a reminder to send a note to a friend that is sick on the list.
My struggle is that many of the items on the list are good things. Many of my “to do” items are things that the Bible says that I should do – I am reminding myself to reach out to people that are hurting, to plan a trip that will allow me to serve vulnerable people in need, and to write these posts for anyone that may need to hear what I have to say. However, no matter how important the task may be, Jesus commands us to take time to step away, even from the very important things, so that we can attend to the most important thing.
In Mark 6:30-32, the apostles had returned to Jesus after going out to teach and serve others. When Jesus saw them, he did not immediately say, “Why are you here wasting time? People need to know who I am! Go out and spread the good news!” Instead, Jesus noticed that they had not had a chance to eat, and he said, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
Jesus immediately recognized three things. First, we cannot serve Christ if we have not taken care of our most basic needs. If we want to be effective in ministry and life, we need to acknowledge and address our physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. A therapist once taught me “HALT.” When I felt anxious and out of control, she told me to stop for a moment and ask myself, “Am I hungry, angry, lonely or tired?” When I determined which feeling was most influencing me, I could address my most basic needs.
Second, Jesus instructed the apostles to go to a “quiet place” “by yourselves” to “get some rest.” Jesus knew that they could not get rest in the midst of the crowds that needed something from them. When I am feeling empty, I often tell my husband that I cannot take another moment of “anyone needing something from me.” Too often, I feel like my children, husband, friends, parents, and coworkers all need me. When I am completely exhausted, I have nothing left to give. The only way that I can get the rest I truly need is to remove myself from the people that need me.
Third, and most importantly, Jesus said, “Come with me.” Too often, I am trying to complete every task and overcome every challenge on my own. I forget to ask Jesus to join me, and I definitely forget to take a moment to sit quietly and allow the Holy Spirit to fill me.
We often view busyness as a badge of honor, and we view rest as laziness. However, Jesus is clear that if we do not take time to rest with him, we cannot be effective for him. It is only when we take time to rest, even if that means rest from important things, that we can focus on the most important thing.
March 21, 2018by Beth Mabe Gianopulos Category: Devotion“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.“The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!”As Jesus walked beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen.“Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.” Mark 1:14-18 NIV When I was a teenager, I read this passage in awe. I could not comprehend why the disciples would just walk away from everything they knew to follow Jesus. Of course I understood that Jesus was the Son of God, but when I read the passage literally, it sounded like Jesus just walked up to Simon and Andrew and said, “Hi. Nice to meet you. I am the Savior of the World. Follow me.” I couldn’t understand walking away from the life that I knew because I still thought that I was in …
When my daughter was two years old, we took her to a concert to see a children’s group perform. While my husband was taking my son to the bathroom, I felt Maria go completely still in my lap. I looked at her, and she took a shallow breath. Then, to my horror, she stopped breathing. I began to shake her in an attempt to wake her. Her lips were turning blue, and I stood hysterically screaming, “Does anyone know CPR?” I ran into the hall and found paramedics. They were able to help her breath again, and I collapsed into a crumpled ball on the floor. We later learned that my daughter had a febrile seizure. She had an infection, and her fever had spiked so quickly that her body shut down for a few seconds. In the months that followed, we had to take her to the emergency room for pneumonia. I was so traumatized and terrified that I could not sleep. I was afraid to close my eyes for a minute because I was afraid that she would stop breathing. I somehow believed that if I watched h…
What does it mean to follow Jesus? If I am to “take up my cross”, what is my cross? What is your cross?
I have often heard people say that any hardship a person may encounter is that person’s cross to bear. Whether a person is battling illness, dealing with depression, or going through the end of a relationship, we view any of life’s difficulties as a cross to bear.
However, I believe that taking up my cross may entail much more than enduring life’s hardships and difficulties. In Mark 8:34, Jesus said, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.”
Before Jesus died on the cross, he spent his time out in the world. He didn’t spend his days in church surrounded by people that looked like him, had the exact same religious beliefs as him, and acted like him. He didn’t choose to spend his time with people that were e…