Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Filling Your Cup

I recently blogged this and then somehow LOST the post! *sniff* It has taken me a few days to get over it... Now let me try again...

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?

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Are You Having a Quarter-Life Crisis?

This is a post written by Chris, a close friend and member of my tribe, so-to-speak:

Thanks to Becca for allowing me some “soap-box” time here on her blog.

A few weeks ago, I was intrigued by a book that sat in her office entitled Quarterlife Crisis authored by Alexandra Robbins and Abby Wilner, both of Washington, DC. At the time, I thought I too could be having a quarter-life crisis. I had just lost a job, was about to start another one…and, oh yeah, I’m about to become a father. Yeah, I reasoned, I could be having a quarterlife crisis. As I read through the short book, I realized many of the crises addressed where familiar to me. They included finding a job, finding a career, finding a soul-mate, and balancing work and social life among others.

A Quick Book Review

Despite my status as a “twenty-something” and my keen understanding of some of the crises faced by those interviewed for the book, I began to have some misgivings about what I was reading. Several things occurred to me and other things disturbed me. See what you think and post a comment or two.

  • There are countless crises in each person’s life. What’s so special or different about the twenty-something crisis? Do any of us remember the “college crisis” when we had to pick “the right” school or lives would be over? What about those of us whose parents have divorced? Was that not a crisis in our lives? Maybe the quarterlife crisis is different because it’s the first real crisis after we get out of school. But that supposes that all change leads to crisis and I’m not ready to admit that. Nevertheless, the authors and those they’ve interviewed seem to place more emphasis on this crisis because so many parts of our lives converge at one time. I think I can buy that, but I also think calling it a crisis is more than a little alarmist.
  • My overwhelming feeling throughout the book was that many of these twenty-somethings were busy whining instead of doing. Based on their comments, the interviewees seem much too self-absorbed in their worries and woes, and therefore they forget about others who may be feeling the same or worse. Their self-absorption made them believe that they were on their own – that they were the only ones feeling the way they did. Someone could make the case that self-absorption is endemic to our American culture, but it’s possible that twenty-somethings the world over feel that way. I’ll leave that point to my friends who have traveled the world a bit more than I.
  • What I wanted to yell as I read this book is: “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU!” The world is a big place with lots of people doing lots of things. Sometimes if you just get up the nerve to do something—anything—it can make all the difference in the world. How many times have you done something you didn’t think you liked and found out that, in fact, you did like it. These twenty-somethings seemed so paralyzed by what they were afraid to do that some of them wound up doing nothing.

The authors admit in their epilogue that their critics are likely saying “Stop WHINING!” I laughed when I read that because I definitely felt that way. As my father used to say, “Life’s not fair so deal with it.” His statement wasn’t optimistic or pessimistic; it was realistic.

What about Young Adult Ministry?

So how does this all tie into young adult ministry? It’s a good question. The obvious answer is that Quarterlife Crisis can give its readers a peek into the mind of the young adult. The knowledge gained can be used to develop programs that would appeal to young adults. For instance, the authors make the point that twenty-somethings—for whatever reason—don’t discuss their worries or common struggles with each other. A young adult program at a church where individuals can discuss their common struggles related to jobs, relationships, families and other topics may have practical application in their lives.

Exactly how to do that is the challenge. Most twenty-somethings feel that they can’t even tell their close friends about such things, and going to a young adult program that addresses such things may smell more of therapy than of fellowship. Still, it’s worth trying.

One Last Personal Note

I’ve been attending church pretty regularly since I was in high-school. In high-school it was a social event for me, a place to meet new and exciting people. In college it formed (i) a basis for my faith, (ii) several long-lasting friendships and (iii) a deeper recognition of my strengths and weaknesses. After college it became a home for me—a place I could go and feel at home.

Through it all though, attending services, praying and listening to others helped me remember that I wasn’t alone and it helped me understand that I wasn’t the center of the universe (occasionally it still helps dispel that myth).

I welcome your comments, arguments and any other constructive criticism.