One of the challenges that I have as a church worker is finding time to take care of myself. As I have been thinking about this problem recently, it occurred to me that many young adults probably experience the same problem. We are so busy working, studying, volunteering, taking care of our families, and other things that time management and finding time for ourselves can be a real issue. Many days I hardly have time to spend with my husband--how am I supposed to find time for myself, too???
The problem is that we all need to take care of ourselves in order to truly be successful in the other areas of our lives. I cannot minister to others if I myself am burnt out. I cannot care for my husband or my children in ways that they deserve and need to be cared for if I am too tired. I cannot be a good employee or volunteer if I do not take the time I need to recharge my own batteries.
I had a Christian ethics professor in college named Robert Benne who talked about this as "filling your cup" and "spilling your cup." As Christians, spouses, parents, co-workers, and in many other aspects of our lives, we are constantly demanded to "spill our cup" into various places. We are called to give of ourselves so that other peoples' cups might be filled. However, eventually, we too, will be left with an empty cup. If we don't take the time that we need to fill our own cup, then how successful are we going to be in spilling it out to others?
Here are some ways in which I think I could work toward filling my cup. These are "growing edges" for me--things I see that I need but could become better at doing. Where do you see your own "growing edges" in this list?
- Eat healthy. This may sound like a no-brainer, because we hear it all the time. But, healthy eating takes work! I love to eat well, and yet the temptations of the office and "easy, quick" food are sometimes overwhelming. It is SO much easier to order a pizza or Chinese take-out at the end of a long day than to cook something. It is so much more fun to eat at Taco Bell with co-workers than have a sandwich in my office! Sometimes, that is OK--I believe in doing everything in moderation. The problem for me recently has been finding the balance. I feel like I am indulging too much and not being attentive enough to what I know is good for me.
- Exercise regularly. Again, this may sound like a no-brainer. The thing is, I KNOW exercise is good for me, and I know I feel good when I do it. But, I have a really hard time finding the time to do it. Actually, the truth is, I could find the time to do it, but I would rather be doing something else! When I was in seminary, I ran "religiously" (ha ha). But, I had a partner and it seemed easier to find free time to do it. I really struggle with this one.
- Take time to just "be". Even when I am home and am supposed to be "relaxing", it seems like there is always something to do. I have a hard time doing nothing. Instead, I find myself doing laundry, washing dishes, surfing the Internet, making the bed, or something. I wish I knew better how to just "be". I would love to be able to sit still with Pandora (our cat) on my lap and read a magazine. Instead, she hates getting on my lap because she knows that it will disappear as soon as I think of something that "has" to be done.
- Prayer and devotional life. Just because you work in the church doesn't mean this comes easily! I think God and I have a pretty good relationship. I try to really be attentive to where God is speaking in my life. However, I tend to pray and study the Bible "when I think about it," instead of being intentional about doing it on a regular basis. I think there is something to be said for being spontaneous in my relationship with God... I just also think it is healthy to practice regular devotion, Bible study, and prayer.
- Be intentional in your relationships. Be honest and communicate. If you need time alone, talk to your spouse/friends about it. On the other hand, sometimes spending intentional time in those relationships also helps me fill my cup. There is nothing better than coming home at the end of a long day and talking with my husband over dinner. This is something that ministers to me and also helps maintain and build our relationship. Filling my cup doesn't necessarily have to happen when I am by myself.
There may be some other things that help me fill my cup that I will think of and add to the list later. Right now, I am going to go home and sit on my couch with Pandora.