I’ve come to realize the litmus test of my spiritual health is directly related to my road rage. And since I recently passed out a senior citizen (driving mercilessly below speed limit, I might say) in a no passing zone to properly convey my rage, I knew things were gettin’ rough.
When feeling overloaded with stress, or overly irritable, isn’t it so easy to blame the circumstances or people around us? The old guy in the Oldsmobile. Or the marriage in a slump, or your teenager’s riding your last nerve like a roided out cowboy. Or more likely, we’re just reeling from the effects of scrolling through too much digitized rage and vapidness all throughout the day. But when I’ve come to the end of the excuses, I always come to the same revelation. Yep. I need more Jesus.
When our lives feel out of whack and our hearts feel dull it’s probably just a need for Him. At the risk of sounding like a country trope…”all I need is coffee and Jesus!” most of us know that spending time with Jesus doesn’t mean blasting more worship music in the car or hurriedly rattling off more prayer requests on the way to work. It means making the time to do the exact opposite of what feels natural when we’re feeling exhausted, overworked and grumpy: making the effort get quiet and be still. It means sacrificing our coveted time to be alone with God, letting his presence renew our spirits and infuse His Peace, so we can actually hear what He has to say.
I just finished an amazing book called The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry, which profoundly conveys the effects of hurry, and distraction-based exhaustion on our spirits. So much of this epidemic especially relates to those of us still raising kids while working and serving in other capacities. We’re often too stretched with too much on our plates, and our walk with God is a common casualty. Here’s just a small sampling of tasks I’ve done this week that are OUTSIDE of my 40-hour work week and all the cooking/cleaning/carpooling it takes keeping a household of seven afloat.
- Coordinating parent teacher conferences for multiple children on the schools’ “Parent Square” app that I swear must’ve been coded by toddlers
- Continuing ongoing research for a good therapist (just keepin’ it real!)
- Planning this year’s Thanksgiving dishes with mother & sisters *(not hosting this year…score!)
- Getting placed on hold for an ungodly amount of time, following up on an insurance claim
- Navigating the dark labyrinth that is the Delta customer services to check on our travel credits
- Surfing the web for a church life group we promised to sign up for a year ago
- Unsuccessfully attempting to resurrect my old Spotify account in order to send marriage podcasts to my husband (commute’s about to get real, honey!)
Now I’m not saying the men folk aren’t stressed and workin’ just as hard, but this is just a microcosm of all the “extras” women do throughout their days that frankly just leads to a burn out. No wonder why we’re short-fused, self-focused and lack patience. No wonder why we feel restless and cranky. Our tanks are empty. Some might say the solution is to prioritize, simplify, and designate, which of course could help, but it takes more than better habits to really live in balance.
To put it bluntly, the real key to extinguishing our internal dumpster fires is to prioritize our relationship with God. I’ve written so much about the desperate need for designated quiet time, but it’s more than that. Whenever I’ve put God on the back burner…praying and studying the Bible less, listening to secular podcasts instead of worship or sermons and swinging the pendulum of thought life towards self-focus… life simply gets harder. I’m less joyful, less focused, less invigorated and less calm. You’d think this stark reality would keep us constantly walking in step with Him, but life is nasty, and slopes are slippery.
We need to continually remind ourselves where our help comes from, in order to still live abundantly in culture that’s increasingly targeting our attention and affection. And no amount of Starbucks, Spanish red blend, workout endorphins, or Insta-based dopamine highs will even come close to the strength and peace we find in Him. We all know it, but how many of us can honestly say that at this moment in time, we spend enough time with God, while duplicitously feeling more stress, irritability, restlessness, and exhaustion?
I never used to equivocate increased energy and productivity, with closeness to Jesus. Peace? Yes. But energy? Not so much. But after enough decades spent liaising between different amounts of quality time with the Lord, I can say with confidence that my vigor and passion (or at least the ability to sustain it) stems from Him. Spending time with Jesus is kind of like taking a warm, hot shower after days of running around in your own filth (moms of infants you know!). You just feel lighter, and more refreshed. He manages to rinse all the bad energy, wrong thoughts, built up hurts and disappointments ruminating through our minds, replacing our tumultuous, wounded emotions with his peace and truth.
Of course it seems completely backwards to make more time for God when we’re already pushed to the max, but isn’t that how He works? Matthew 6:33 says “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and all else shall be given to you.” When we seek God…which just means going after his presence, He’s fully able (and willing!) to give us all that we need. The understanding, guidance, patience, focus and calmness of mind that it takes just navigating one day in this nutty life. And if you have teens like me, maybe double up. : ) Happy stillness! xo
For more on quiet time, check out my post How Daily Time With God will Change Your Life.