“When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.”
Annie Johnson Flint – (1866-1932)
We have heard these platitudes before “you can do anything you put your mind to” or “reach for the stars.” Those phrases are often said with the best intentions to inspire us to think bigger and reach farther. A pep talk now and then is needed to lift our sagging souls and keep going. However, the bottom line is that we cannot do everything we put our minds to because if we could, we would not need God.
We were created with an innate need for rhythm- the rhythm of word and silence, community and solitude, work and rest. Learning our tailor-made boundaries and margins, despite our most passionate desire to meet deadlines, keep promises, and accomplish projects, cannot go 24/7. We were made to step back, re-collect ourselves, and tune into what God is saying to us through our bodies and souls.
We all have a tipping point- the point when we succumb to stresses and pressures. What it is for one person is different for another. We often get in trouble when we look at someone else and see their mental and physical bandwidth is different from ours, and we try to keep up. Unfortunately, that can take us into dangerous territory and cause us to “crash and burn.”
There is a delicate balance between reading when it is time to push ourselves and when it is time to step back. It is important to understand your line in the sand. It can all begin by saying HALT! H-A-L-T is an acronym for “hunger, anger, lonely, tired.” This method helps you check in with yourself periodically and ask how you feel in these four categories. Sometimes, check-ins can occur daily or during highly active times periodically throughout the day.
Is your body speaking to you about the choices or lack of choices you are making to fuel your body? What is your caffeine intake? Are you making sure you are hydrated?
Your hunger may not be food related. You may yearn for something other than food, such as attention, recognition, etc. Are you looking for those areas to be fulfilled through means that bring temporary satisfaction? First, step back and ask yourself where your hunger is coming from. Then, ask God how to fuel it to bring greater satisfaction.
Recognizing your anger is an opportunity to step back and ask what the source of that anger is and why. Undefined anger can lead to other emotions, such as depression. Take time to identify what triggers that anger. What can change? What can be eliminated?
Isolation is one of the devil’s best tactics to lead us to believe we are the only ones experiencing what is going on within and around us. These feelings may be justified and understandable, but without a trusted friend, mentor, or small group to bounce your feelings off of perspective can be lost. Being in a community can help a person feel included and remain centered.
Sometimes the best ministry is found in a good nap! Sleep deprivation can wreak havoc on our minds, will, and emotions.
We are creatures of habit. Poor decision-making can occur when a sleep schedule is consistently interrupted or shortened. Sitting down with a medical professional can help find the source and remedy for poor sleep habits.
When we feel out of sorts and unsure where to begin, consider taking a step back and reflecting on where you are and how you got to this point. When we can analyze the patterns in our lives, we can differentiate what has been helpful and detrimental to our spirit, soul, and body.
This idea of stopping and looking back before moving forward is not new; the prophet Jeremiah shared wisdom from the Lord. “This is what the Lord says: Stand at the crossroads and look. Ask which paths are the old, reliable paths. Ask which way leads to blessings. Live that way and find a resting place for yourselves.” Jeremiah 6:16 (GW)
Pausing in God’s presence can only bring health and wholeness.
Click here to continue on to Part 2 of the Rhythms series