Life is about balance, and keeping in a healthy emotional, mental, physical and spiritual space is vitally important to our quality of life.
I learnt the hard way how important balance is shortly after our youngest daughter and 5th child was born. I was under pressure mentally and physically, which then affected my emotional and spiritual state. Something had to give, and that something was me! I essentially “broke”.
Looking back now it wasn’t surprising. We had been pushing and trying to fit into a “church planting” box of how you do church for years. It wasn’t really us, and we felt pressured. My husband and I were what you might term “go hards”. We gave everything, even when it hurt.
Combine that with a terminally ill Father, who was still grieving over the death of his son, financial pressures, two teenagers, two younger children, a newborn, and a serious lack of sleep, and you have a recipe for something to break, which in this case was me.
Thankfully I have a loving husband who was prepared to give up everything to bring balance and joy back into our lives. He knew something had to change, and so he made the call and sacrifice to walk away from 8 years of work in planting a church. He chose to put his family before his ministry and dream, and chose to go and get regular work and hours close to home, so as to take the stress and pressure off our busy lives. This helped to provide space and support for me to recover, which I did.
In amongst my brokenness I remembered something my mother had said to me about how to alleviate feeling “down”.
It was some simple practical things that anyone can do to help bring balance and perspective back into their life, and it worked.
Over the coming months I vigorously walked up and down the hills surrounding our home, venting to God how unimpressed I was. I let all the pent up emotions, thoughts and hurt out. Many times that included telling God how annoyed and angry I was. My husband and I talked, we examined our motives, our values, our hearts, and what was really important to us. We were careful to eat well, and I looked after myself more. I made some new friends, and did things that prospered my soul. As a result I grew more thankful and joyful day by day, and God restored and mended my brokenness. Amazingly I’m now much much stronger, self-aware, resilient and compassionate to those who are struggling. I know God more, because I’ve found Him to be constant and loving even in my ‘broken” place.
Now I recognise when I am pushing myself too hard, or when I am heading towards a “hole” in my thought life. I stop what I am doing, and change direction quicker than I used to. I know the consequences of not looking after myself. I know what sort of people affect me negatively, and mostly I choose to stay away from them. Lastly and importantly, I know how vital it is to “soak” in God’s loving presence a lot.
Here are the practical steps I found helpful:
Get enough sleep. Easier said that done with little ones, but letting someone know you need some help and rest is one of the best things we can do. Ask for help if you need it.
Eat a good diet. When we are feeling yuck we often reach for the exact things that are not helpful. Eating well makes our bodies function at their best so choose wisely.
Do something just for you everyday. Learn to prosper your soul; do something that makes you smile, that you enjoy or interests you. “I wish above all things that you may prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.” (1 John 3:12)
Get out of the house everyday and talk to people. Have a conversation and interact. Depression is very alienating, and interacting is probably the last thing we want to do, but it’s vital for a balanced life. We need support and when we ask God, He will put people in our lives who will be there to “bear our burdens with us”, to help us to get out of the house, or just have a chat and a coffee.“Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. (Galatians 6:2)
Exercise; It quickly elevates our mood, relieves stress and tension, and helps every part of our system operate as it should. When we look after our physical health, it affects every other area of our life. Put simply; exercise makes us feel better.
Have an interest, a hobby. Try some new things. You might be surprised at what you discover about yourself, get to meet some interesting people and make some new friends in the process.
Soak in God’s presence. We rush things. My mum has a great analogy about washing dirty dishes. It’s much easier if you simply soak them. The dirt just falls off. The same can be said for our issues, negative mindsets and any hurts in our life. When we soak in God’s presence they fall off easily! Take time to sit with Jesus; put some music on that turns your heart towards Him, and just soak in His love for you. It’s easy, doesn’t take a lot of energy or effort, and the things in our life that are unhelpful and unhealthy will fall away.
The great thing about God is that He is the restorer. He always has a way through. He restores what is broken. He puts back together what is damaged. He turns our mourning into dancing, and our sorrow into joy.
“You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.” (Psalm 30:11)
“For I will restore health to you, and your wounds I will heal, declares the Lord” (Jeremiah 30:17)
Today know that God is for you. He sees your struggles, your weakness and every circumstance you are in. No hole is too deep that God can’t reach you, and no circumstance or hurt is too big that He can’t restore and heal you. Trust Him today to meet you where you are at, and to lead you into peace and life.
Jesus said “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Prayer: Lord thank you that you love me regardless of how I feel. Help me to reach out to you, and to take the steps that help bring balance and wholeness to my life. In Jesus Name Amen.