Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
~ Mark 1:35
We live in a world where self-imposed expectations can cause us to become anxious, or even lose our way. I have often wondered if Jesus were walking the streets today what he would say or do with the person who has too much on his mind?
The older I get I seem to value the times that I can step away from every day life. Perhaps Jesus "going off to pray," should be a hint for those of us who seem to have too much going on?
Our ability to rest, and to seek time away, should be a normal part of our life. Additionally, we should not allow others, or even our own self, to make us feel guilty when we realize that the only way to work through something is to take a break.
This week I had that happened to me. I'm not sure if it has been because it has rained every day this week? Maybe it is grief from memories that linger from milestones in my life. Remembering 9/11, recovering a year ago from Hurricane Harvey, or ten years ago when Hurricane Ike hit our city. Maybe it has been the reality of a patient's condition that I have grown to care for who now is showing signs that she is declining more each day? Perhaps it is because I find that I'm once again recovering from another jaw surgery a week ago that still has my mouth full of stitches.
I'm beginning to sound like someone who needs to "go off and pray!"
Discovering a sacred place is probably the most powerful thing we can do for ourselves. Allowing the time for us to enter this place for any period of time to pray or to allow for rest is necessary.
I believe that if we were all honest with ourselves, we would all agree that our care for self at some point, is the beginning of our ability to truly care for others, or to address our own "plate" that may seem to be overwhelmingly full.
A patient of mine recently shared, "You know, they say that God never gives us more than we can handle. I have to disagree. Sometimes I think God allows us to have too much to see what we will do with it. It's not that God plans for that to happen. No, we simply do it to ourselves, and then God sits back and waits to see what we will do. It reminds me of when my kids were young and their eyes were bigger than their stomachs. I'd sit there and tell them they had to figure out what they were going to do."
She is 101 years old. I figure she probably knows a little bit about this!
In the meantime, we all must seek a place of sacredness. Allow the time to be present in that space, and to remember that caring for ourselves first should never be a source of guilt, but rather a place to discover wholeness.
Stay in God's grip!
G. Todd Williams (c) 2018ou
Rev. G. Todd Williams lives in the Houston metro area and is a Hospice Chaplain at Essential Hospice, Webster, Texas, and is an ordained Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) pastor.