Always wanting to surround yourself with people during the stressful times is not always a bad thing. However, I am about to explain why I decided to take it down a notch- when temporarily closing off could be a bad thing, and why I’m okay with easing up on the amount of time I spend out and about sometimes. It’s alright to want a break, even as Christians in ministry.
Over the course of a year and a half, a lot has happened in my life that I would have never expected. With that came a lot of emotional damage as well as needed time to take a breath and just… reflect. Now, mind you, I said “reflect”… not “dwell”. Don’t get me wrong, being around friends in your times of distress is a good way to talk things about and maybe hear things from a different perspective. It’s encouraged to find someone you trust (someone who is also biblically grounded if possible) to help you. However, I’ve found that personally, in my anger or frustrations of a certain event, some of my unprocessed thoughts turned more into gossip, which certainly isn’t okay. I would immediately turn to my friends, completely making an inaccurate assessment of the situation, and not always turning to scripture first- unless of course, the scripture fit in my favor for that particular event, and simply put… that’s just not how things are supposed to work, and that’s not how God intended scripture to be used. It is is used for His glorification alone and not our own.
During times of utmost despair, take a deep breath. Pray. Do not stop praying. and truly reflect. See things from the other perspective (especially God’s perspective), and don’t be quick to assume. Give yourself a few hours or a few days to process something big, and I promise you that your decisions following that time will be a lot better.
“My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” James 1:19-20
The past few months have been hectic. I have a big load on any given day, and 7 pm starts my “free-time” so to speak. So on certain days, I am sure to try and reserve some time for me. I don’t look at this as a selfish act; if I am burned out, how am I supposed to be effective with others? Also, I have gotten back into reading for leisure and I thoroughly enjoy it, as well as other hobbies (like coloring and painting!).
Now, when is taking time for yourself a bad thing? I have to be careful in my times of highest stress, because here’s a fact about me; I have TERRIBLE anxiety. I can’t even begin to fathom all of the things I excessively worry and think about- sometimes it’s insane. Don’t take the time you set aside to dwell on bad parts of your life as I mentioned earlier, because not only is this physically unhealthy and makes you more on edge, but we are clearly told to not let it consume our lives.
“An anxious heart weighs a man down, but a kind word cheers him up.” Proverbs 12:25.
Go find that kind word. In this case, also go out and find some accountability and encouragement. I still have to remind myself to do this. It is all too easy to want to permanently retreat. But remember that the rough patch is only a season and that you are not alone. People can relate to how you’re feeling in some fashion, even when you feel like an island.
My point is this: Don’t use people as a crutch to get out of touch with yourself. Don’t be around people all the time for the sake of hoping that problems will disappear, only to later discover that your personal issues have tripled in size. Don’t gossip. Don’t be around people while also feeling like you are suffocating at the same time. Take the break. Do yourself the favor and every once in a while, reserve time for only you. But don’t abuse that time. Keep the anxiety to a minimum and remember that you are not alone in your struggle, and that your rough season will end. Anyways, that’s all for now, folks!