Sometimes I Want to Run Away
"Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed." Luke 5:15-16 (NIV)
When my first three children were small, a book in a Christian store caught my eye. The title perfectly depicted how I felt at that time. So I bought it, carried it home, and hid it in my bedside table - still wrapped in the store bag.
The title was Sometimes I Feel Like Running Away From Home.
I was embarrassed for my husband to see it. My oldest was just learning to read and I didn't want him to see it either. What would they think? How could I explain that I didn't really want to leave, but every once in awhile I wanted to not be touched, pulled at or asked a question? I loved my family, but I felt like I was losing me.
And then the guilt set in.
How could a woman who had experienced three years of infertility and now had three healthy children ever want to be away from them? Wasn't I supposed to be enjoying every peanut-butter kiss and jelly-smeared hug? What was wrong with me?
I don't remember ever reading the book; I just kept it hidden. But I do remember the feelings:
- Being overwhelmed
While I never seriously considered running away, my soul longed for refreshment. As a full-time caregiver I needed to be reminded that I was important. And that it was okay to take time for myself so I could be refueled.
I remember when things changed for me. It wasn't a super-spiritual moment. It was a Target moment, looking at the most adorable girly shoes. As the mother of three boys my life was consumed with masculine things. So I dismissed the shoes thinking they were too girly and walked on. Two steps later I thought: Wait. I am a girl.
I tossed the cute shoes in my cart and determined to start rediscovering me. I could only do small things, but they sustained me on the hard days. Every day I tried to find a me-moment. A few quiet minutes with my Bible or book on the patio ... grocery shopping by myself ... a pretty coffee mug ... fresh cut flowers ... a ruffled blouse. In the midst of the chaos, I created little vignettes of beauty, little moments of peace. Yes Barney was still on the VCR and Hot Wheels were in the hall. But those moments helped.
Of course there are days when feeling overwhelmed and inadequate as a caregiver wasn't as simple as sipping from a cute coffee mug. In today's key verse Jesus modeled the most effective choice: time away and time alone - with our Heavenly Father.
Nothing can replace the peace only God can bring. Yet, in some seasons of life, getting away by ourselves for extended periods of time is near to impossible. In those seasons, we have to get creative. I had to discover ways to connect with God and renew my heart despite the daily demands. The only one who was going to make it happen was me.
In the midst of caring for those you love, don't neglect yourself. You are valuable and important. You are worth a little treat. You have a big job and need to be refreshed.
And by the way, I found the book recently and smiled at the reminder that time does pass, and perspective really helps. We all need a break to get God's viewpoint and peace. We need to refuel ourselves so we can continue to give to others. After all, if there's nothing left inside, what can we give?
Dear Lord, thank You for including in Scripture stories of how Jesus took time for Himself. Help me to accept that I have limits and needs. You know how overwhelmed I feel at times, please refuel and refresh me with Your Spirit first. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
Reflect and Respond:
Is there something you love that you have given up because of your current circumstances? Consider if there is a way to re-incorporate that into your life.
Consider ways to be the hands of Jesus and bring refreshment to someone who is a full-time caregiver.
Proverbs 11:25, "A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed." (NIV)
Matthew 6:26, "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?" (ESV)