As a child my models for being a wife and mom (my mother and grandmother) were servants first. They met every need the family had, served in church and took care of extended family as well as neighbors in need. They prepared meals others enjoyed (no thought to their own preferences), took the drumstick instead of the breast, and often insisted their family rest and leave chores to them.
In the early days of caring for my own home and family I applied these same methods. I remember one day, when I was pregnant with my second child, waking up face-down on my bed in a pile of clean laundry—one sock still in my hand. I had simply collapsed from exhaustion.
Fortunately, my husband had a different kind of role model and (with on-going battles) he helped me learn that caring for everyone-all-the-time wasn't in my job description; that my loved ones were capable and needed to take more responsibility.
I was admittedly a slow learner, and a bit stubborn, but as time went on I learned there was much freedom and peace for all of us when I let people do their own jobs. Letting go of guilt as I rested and watched others labor was tough initially, but each time I saw their satisfied faces when they had accomplished something on their own, it became a little easier.
Following is an excerpt from Joan C. Webb's book It's a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life: Devotional Readings for Women Who Strive Too Hard to Make it Just Right (Regal, 2009). I was delighted to participate in Joan's Blog tour. For tomorrow's stop, click here and this link will show you the whole schedule. As a recovering work-aholic and perfectionist, Joan has been a powerful inspiration to me.
He restores my soul. Psalm 23:3
"Whenever I say I need to rest or take a nap, I get dirty looks from my family," said a coaching client. "This pushes my button and keeps me moving. Lately I've realized I let their reactions control me. Should I stop to rest even if they don't like it?"
This reminded me of a conversation I had with an executive friend who said, "God has specifically told me to take care of myself this year and stop doing for everybody else what they can do for themselves or what someone other than me can do to help. He assured me he doesn't want me to work so hard that my health is negatively affected. I will obey him and include space and rest into my life. But here's the rub: Others don't appreciate that I've changed my modus operandi. I'm getting flack."
I understand. Some of us have taught others that we're super-women—willing, skilled and available to make life easier for them. When this is the case, it is unlikely they'll suggest we relax, or be pleased if we choose to take time off. But here's what my client and the executive—and I—have learned: We don't have to wait until someone else notices our exhaustion and suggests we take a break. God grants us permission to take responsibility for ourselves. He loves to replenish our souls, and we can cooperate with Him regardless of what others say or do.
Lord, I want a balanced life of doing, trusting and resting.*Bonus: If you post a comment you'll be entered in a drawing to receive a signed copy of the book! (Make sure I can contact you) DM