Today seemed like a good day to rest…
Too much lately, I’ve been pushing myself to commit to anything and everything that comes along, because if not, I would feel so guilty for letting people down. My “curse” as a people-pleaser is to hate disappointing others; that, no matter what, their interests and happiness come first. It’s easy to place my feelings, desires, physical (and emotional) exhaustion as less important than everyone else’s.
I was doing better with this obsessive need to please for a while, a few years back. After the end of a particularly difficult relationship that really tore me apart, some very strong-minded friends and a mum equally tough and strong-willed (thank you for that), showed me how to be more assertive – to say “no” in a gentle way and not feel guilty for it afterwards. It got me through a difficult period of time.
When I started working a few months ago, it very quickly came back to me, this overwhelming need to please. Of course, I wanted to be good at my job and give my best, but that also trickled into my personal life and has really taken its toll on me.
It’s a very wearisome thing to give and give and give with nothing to fill us up in return.
And I find that Christian circles, in particular, consider it selfishness if we need to say “no” to giving, if we need to be the one “getting” instead. It’s been very hard to find a balance in recent months between my job, hobbies, meeting friends, growing in a relationship, not neglecting my family, and still managing to keep God in his rightful place as Lord in my life.
It really hurt me to start letting people down when I had to back away from many activities and volunteering things these last few months; to choose to come home and work on some personal hobbies (or, heaven forbid, watch some Netflix) for an evening versus meeting friends, to sleep in on a Sunday instead of going to church like “a good Christian girl” should.
I felt so selfish and guilty for it and I knew I didn’t need to…
But there is so much pressure from only society, and even ourselves, to be and do everything – and to do it perfectly. What perfect silliness! Not to mention the impossibility of it. Sadly, even in Christian communities, there is little grace for going against the norm, not committing every free moment to volunteering, always trying to be perfect… It’s sad. The superficiality of it all is harsh and painful and lacking in love, when we, especially as examples of Christ, should be the very essence of love and grace.
I don’t mean for this to come off as an attack against anyone or anything. There’s been a storm raging in me and around me for quite some time and I’m just trying to find a way to walk through it. I know I don’t need to defend my faith to anyone, either. It is strong and very present, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been struggling. There is pain and oh, so much doubt about so many things in my life. And yet, I’m finding a place where I can be real about it, and that hasn’t been in church, nor among a group of “perfect” people, giving and giving every bit of myself to everyone else. It’s when I’m pouring my heart out at the feet of Jesus every day and resting in Him.
So today, I took a day of rest.
A real day of rest, no commitments. I woke up slowly, watched the rays of sun breaking over my garden while I laid in bed. I baked something new (Lavender & Thyme Scones – you must try them!), , and tonight I’m going to watch While You Were Sleeping and continue knitting what will hopefully be a scarf.
It’s so peaceful, this kind of rest. I didn’t go to church, and I may not for a while, because I know it’s possible to experience the life-giving, refreshing spirit of the Lord in the day-to-day. I may even grow closer to him when I remove certain distractions for a time. There is such freedom in being close to Him in the simple things. And that’s what I need in this raging season, freedom to be with God in the way that I need. At exactly the moment I need it. It’s not about being selfish.
It’s simply about knowing when to come back to the heart of worship with my Lord.
It’s about that grace and peace and rest; saying “no” to many things, but saying “yes” to God – no guilt, no pressure. Just me and God. And that’s what I’ve needed to do for so, so long…
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.