Life is about balance, and keeping healthy is vitally important to our quality of life.
I learnt the hard way how essential balance is after the birth of our fifth child. 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 was not 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 my brother, financial pressures, two teenagers, two younger children, a newborn, and a severe 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 gave up everything to bring balance and joy back into our lives. He knew something had to change and made the call and sacrifice to walk away from 8 years of work and to put his family before his ministry and dream. He got regular employment close to home, which took the stress and pressure off our busy lives. It helped provide space and support for me to recover, which I did.
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 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. I’m now much more self-aware, resilient and compassionate. I know God more because I have found Him to be constant and loving even in my ‘broken” place.
Now I recognise when I am pushing myself too hard or 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, the sort of people who affect me negatively, and mostly I choose to stay away from them. Lastly, I know how vital it is to “soak” in God’s loving presence a lot.
In amongst my brokenness, I put some practical things into place to help bring balance and perspective back into my life, and it worked.
Here are the practical steps I found helpful:
Get enough sleep. Easier said than 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 healthy: When we are feeling yuck, we often reach for the foods that are not helpful. Eating well makes our bodies function at their best, so choose wisely.
Do something just for you every day. 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 every day and talk to people (or jump on a call or zoom) 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”. Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way, you will fulfil 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.
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. Much like when we wash the dishes, it is much easier for the dirt to come off if you soak them first. God wants us to soak in His presence so He can cleanse and refresh us also.
The great thing about God is that He is the restorer. He always has a way through and way to put back together what is damaged. He promises to turn 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. No hole is too deep that God cannot reach you or hurt 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. Please help me to reach out to you, and to take the steps that will bring balance and wholeness to my life, in Jesus Name Amen.