Your Spiritual Workout
Pam and I had 3 young children and the air could get pretty thick at times. I was doing all I knew to do- work, date nights, chores, caring for the car, repairs around the house, praying with her and the children, minimizing commitments that took me away from home, etc. However, it just seemed that no matter what I did she would have a very short fuse and the fuse seemed to be getting shorter by the day. It was taking a toll on me, her, the children and our marriage.
Periodically, we would get counseling and we would be all right for a while but not for very long. Counseling would usually reveal that we have a lot to be thankful for and that things could be a lot worse. We would hear stories of the detriment other couples were facing and it would calm us down. Pam would get centered again and the storm would cease. I could back on track and feel at ease. Then, without any red on the radar whatsoever, we'd have a Category 7 hurricane rip through the house and leave us all devastated. I was losing my grip with each storm.
One day I was talking with a friend of mine just to catch up. He told me he had just got home with all 6 of their children. They had gone out. I asked, "Where was "Jane" during this time?" "Oh, I take them away from home regularly to give her a break." The rest of the conversation was a blur for me. It was like I was whisked away into the Holiest of Holies for a divine revelation. I thought, "That's it! Give her a break!"
In that revelatory time I realized that this was the missing component. It hadn't occurred to me that as much as we had to be thankful for, as much vision as we had, as much as God had done, and as much moral, emotional, and spiritual support as we had that sleep deprivation, weariness of body and lack of emotional space from people to decompress will break down the strongest of us men...and women.
Of course I then set out to verify it in scripture. What did I find? One verse is enough to make the point but there are more:
"Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray." [Mar 6:45-46 ESV]
These verses show Jesus sending His disciples into a time alone while He sent the crowd away. Then, He Himself spends time alone praying. It shows the care Jesus has for His diciples and their need for time away from the crowd. If you work with youth, are a teacher, high volume retail, or anything where people are always pulling at you, you know what I mean.
Now 2 or 3 children may not seem like a crowd but when a mom is not getting away and getting the space, like we all need, she will start to feel crowded burned out. I won't eat up space in this article to talk about the effects of burnout. I'm confident we know that it is not healthy for the home. When I realized that a mother has the power to set the tone in the house I saw it as clear as day. So, I started that journey and it was really healthy for us all.
Some pointers I learned in exercising this wisdom are:
1. Expect nothing when you return. (If she sleeps the whole time, praise God!)
2. Set her up well when you leave. (Don't leave her with nothing but work to do, stressed, or without your blessing.)
3. Give her a heads up so she can look forward to it.
4. Make the time meaningful for the children and explain to them that "Mommy needs a break." They'll ask why she isn't coming.
5. Be consistent
Those last points are pretty straight forward but can be extra points for the whole house if followed. May your house experience the peace that comes from a rested mother!