“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Do you ever think back to your childhood and wish you would have enjoyed it more? Do you wish you could tell your eight year old self to have more fun, make more mud pies, swing a little higher, and play a little longer? I do. I wish I could tell young Mindy to stop trying to grow up, and enjoy being little.
In the same way, in this very season, although there are plenty of things vying for your attention, God is calling you to enjoy it. He wishes you could see from His perspective, from an eternal perspective. He wishes you wouldn’t worry so much, try so hard to be different, or wish away the season you’re in. You will only be this age once. Your life will only look this way for a season. Your family will change. Your circumstances will change. So why not take some time to enjoy this day?
It wasn’t too long ago a mentor of mine, Pastor Brooke Butcher, gave me some incredible advice. She said, “rest between the battles”. At that point, rest was not something I was good at. I have always been future-focused, eyes set on the next big thing I want to do for God. But I realize that this is not a strength, but a weakness, because my constant desire for what is to come, distracts me from what is here now. I have a hard time resting because I feel guilty for not doing more. I have a hard time enjoying my life when I know there is someone else out there who is hurting. I have a tendency to use every ounce of my energy and time being productive, rather than enjoying my life. But once I heard this advice, I began to put it into practice. I realized that I was in a season that had minimal battles. Sure every day seemed like a battle as a mom of four small kids and pastor of a growing church, but when I really looked at my life as a whole, there weren’t any major catastrophes that required my attention. So I decided to relax a little. I stopped pushing myself so hard to reach the next goal. Then, when tragedy struck, I had the capacity to help.
If we don’t rest between battles, we will experience compassion fatigue. Many parents, teachers, servicemen and women, and healthcare workers experience this. Compassion fatigue happens when we focus on caring for others without practicing self-care. We end up spending all of our emotional, mental, and physical capacity, leaving us feeling tired, bitter, and even apathetic if this goes too long. This is why resting between battles is vital.
When I think back to my first few years of motherhood, I remember being stressed-out, tired, and mentally drained. Oh how I wish I could go back to those days. I would give nearly anything to hold one of my babies again. Today my youngest baby is nearing seven. That seems impossible. At one point I thought I would be caring for babies forever. There was a seven year span of time when we always had diapers and bottles in our house. Now, those things have been replaced with jerseys, cleats, leotards, and devices.
We can’t allow the pressure of the future, or the regrets of our past distract us from the here and now. So what can we do?
If your future self could give you advice for today, what would it be? I bet it would sound something like this: Enjoy this season. I know it’s hard, but it’s not as bad as it seems. There are beautiful moments amidst the messy ones. There are memories being made that you will cherish forever. Those things that you think are important, are not as important as you think. Rest more. You need it. Take care of yourself. Do the things you enjoy. Stress less. Look your kids in the eye. Let them run in and out and get your floors a mess. They only get to play for so long. Smile at your spouse. Tell them you love them. Don’t push away when they hug you. Stop rushing so much. Make time for the important things. Laugh. Walk in the sunshine. And rest between the battles.