whatever it takes

I haven’t always been the best about taking the time away I need for me. In certain seasons of life it just hasn’t been practical but having come off of a few tough years (deployments, moves, transitions) I am learning more and more that practical or not, mama needs a break every now and again.

Thankfully, this is a message my sweet Ryan has been preaching forever. It’s just been recently that I’ve taken him up on his offers for me to “get lost” occasionally to recharge and just take the time I need to replenish my soul.

In fact, one of my goals for 2015 has been self-care, to include at least once per month taking time to do something just for myself. No kids, no Ryan, no responsibilities… just me. Like most things in my life, if I am not intentional to plan for it, days turn into weeks and weeks turn into months and years and before I know it, burn out has set in and I’m no good to anyone.

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Only three months into the year and I am learning to let go of the guilt that says I don’t deserve to be out having fun without my family. I didn’t used to be this way. I used to be in a monthly book club AND a bunco group AND I played church softball. I’d go on girls’ beach trips and get out of town with friends a few times a year. I think living in El Paso, far from the help and support of our extended families and the deployment turned me into a hyper-vigilant (s)mother. Now that I’ve seen the error of my ways, I’m attempting to do better.

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I am here today, to share my heart on the spiritual benefits of getting away no matter how much work may be involved in getting to your ‘mountain.’ Sometimes, especially when the kids are really small or the grandparents are far away or the husband travels a lot for work, it can take extreme measures to ensure that rest, refreshment and solitude are worth the investment. I learned a valuable lesson from the Gospel of Matthew and a weekend at St. Simons Island.

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Matthew, chapter 14 gave me pause a few weeks ago. I have read the Gospel of Matthew many times, but this year, I am reading through the ESV Bible and am taking time to really make some personal applications about the practices and promises of Jesus. For too long, I’ve believed that taking these time-outs was just too much trouble and work to be worth it. In my way of thinking, the cost didn’t outweigh the reward.

*****

But reading this passage reminded me that the steps we must take to carve out this solitude is always time well spent. In Matthew 14:22-33 we read an account of Jesus walking on water. What strikes me the most is the different actions Jesus took in verses 22-27.

Immediately he made the disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowds. And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone, but the boat by this time was a long way from the land, beaten by the waves, for the wind was against them. And in the fourth watch of the night he came to them, walking on the sea. But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.
But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.”

Having recently borne the grief of John the Baptist’s beheading and burial as well as feeding the five thousand, Jesus had to have been emotionally spent. I love the way we see him model a time out for himself. Jesus knew that “taking a time out” was healthy for him as well as his ministry. Quiet and alone time refreshes us.

Here are the five things Jesus did to ensure his time out was effective:

1. He put the disciples in the boat.
2. He sent them to the other side.
3. He dismissed the crowds.
4. He went ALONE to the mountain to pray. 
5. He didn’t rush; he stayed until evening. 
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The time out Jesus took, energized him for the remaining miracles he’d perform, teaching he’d do as well as his subsequent transfiguration, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Time out to regroup is crucial to our wellbeing too.

On my recent trip to the beach I took advantage of such a blessing. Although this was my first trip ever that I didn’t leave behind a cache of casseroles and ironed church clothes for the kids, it is always work for mom to leave town and be gone.I was reminded that this is okay.

Jesus had some affairs he had to put in order before he could slip away to the mountain. And once he got there, he stayed a while savoring time alone with God the Father. This passage in Matthew has traditionally taught us to look at the worry of the disciples and the doubt and faithlessness of Peter.

My most recent experience with these verses showed me the reality of our own level of involvement when it comes to making time for what’s important; our time outs don’t just happen to us; we have to make them happen.

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When life is busy (and let’s be honest, when is life not busy?) it still pays to put forth the effort to recharge and rest. Whether that’s a book club, meeting a friend for coffee or dipping your pale feet into the ocean at the edge of the Earth, it’s worth it.

My time at the beach was spent studying God’s word and hearing a wonderfully motivating and edifying speaker; engaging in holy praise and worship; fellowshipping and breaking bread with my sisters in Christ; and spending some valuable time alone walking and wandering the Epworth grounds.

Equally important, I came home energized to return to my loving family, my calling and my home. I came home reminded that the work of getting away is worth the reward of rest and spiritual, physical and mental restoration.

*****

If Jesus had to make arrangements for the disciples and send them away and dismiss crowds in order to prioritize his prayer life, then I, too, should expect to put in some work in order to make my own time outs happen.

Go and find your inner room, your wilderness, your mountain, your ocean or secluded place to meet with the Father. The investment is worth it!

 
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.” {Mark 1:35}
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