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.
For years, my oldest son has been obsessed with football. This summer, before he started ninth grade, he begged to play for his high school team. My husband and I discussed it, and we agreed that our son could play. However, we both knew that there was a good chance that the practices in the grueling heat, getting tackled, and the hard work would eventually lead our son to decide football was not for him.
Just after school started, we had a parent’s meeting. In the meeting, the coach told us about his philosophy. He told us that he didn’t allow players to play based on skill alone. He wanted his players to work to play. The more effort a player put in during the practice, the more likely it was that he would play.
He then told us a story. He said that he had this skinny freshman that would not stop. He said every time the player missed a pass, he asked the coaches how he could do better. He said that when other players were resting, this player was asking someone to throw passes so …
Instead, bless – that’s your job, to bless. You’ll be a blessing and also get a blessing. 1 Peter 3:9-10 (MSG)
My husband is a master gift giver. No matter what the occasion may be, he always surprises me. He makes a sport of it, and each year he strives to outdo himself. The gifts are not always expensive, but he works to find a personalized gift that meets a specific need that I have or that he knows I will enjoy.
We live in a culture that is cultivating consumerism. At Christmas, every advertisement is beautifully created to convince you at an emotional level that if you receive the perfect gift, you will be forever filled with joy. The advertisers are so skillful that they have even made me cry during diaper commercials!
My husband is an excellent gift giver because he doesn’t fall prey to the culture of consumerism. Instead of mindlessly purchasing the latest hot item, he carefully listens as I mention an item I may need or an activity I want to try. He then lovingly…