Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Maintaining Vitality Part 2: Obedience and Consistency

This is the second post in a series about maintaining vitality and preventing burnout as a wife and mom on the mission field (click here to read the first part). In summary, although missionaries are vulnerable to burnout, we can intentionally and creatively maintain consistent rhythms and occasional breaks customized to our needs.

"His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness..." 2 Peter 1:3a

"And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:19

Strategy #1: A sacred start to the day

A consistent rhythm that helps me thrive is rising early. A few years ago, I shared about a "typical day" here in La Ceiba, including reasons for an early start to the day. These days, I find it more helpful than ever to spend about an hour to an hour and half (depending on when my kids wake up) alone.

A refreshing thunderstorm early this morning

First, I read the Bible passages for the day according to a Scripture reading plan. I focus my mind on truth I can meditate on throughout the day, and I love working toward the goal of reading through the Bible this year.

Next, I plan tasks for the day, such as meals or errands, and answer emails.

I find this time incredibly energizing for these reasons:
  • It's quiet and cool, and I'm alone!
  • The rest of the day flows well when I plan ahead, stay organized, and have a disciplined start.
  • I thrive on completing tasks in a focused, uninterrupted way, which doesn't usually happen the rest of the day. :)
  • Regardless of what the day brings, I can enjoy some sense of accomplishment.
This habit is like making a deposit in my energy/vitality account, a safe and consistent space to gain perspective on life, and a sacred time dedicated first and foremost to the Lord.

Strategy #2: Sabbath

To be honest, a weekly day of rest has never appealed to me very much! But in college God taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of observing a Sabbath.

I was a workaholic, double majoring and double minoring while playing flute in the music department, exercising, and socializing... as soon as I finished homework. ;) Spring quarter of my last year, I felt very convicted about not taking a day of rest, but I thought it would be impossible to keep my grades up and perform a concerto (solo accompanied by orchestra), among other year-end concerts. If I hadn't managed to take a day of rest previously, how could I pull it off now?

Performing with the university orchestra, a big highlight from college

I committed to abstain from homework, practicing, and exercising on Sundays, as much as possible. To my surprise, it was a success! God provided the time and more energy Monday through Saturday for academics and music, and I had more time for Him and for friends on Sundays!

Graduating from Western Washington University in 2003

Recently, I felt the familiar sense of conviction, as I brushed off the idea of Sabbath. After all, taking babies to church (babies and children stay with their parents during the service) and the daily tasks of taking care them just doesn't seem restful, so why try? However, I find that when I prepare ahead of time to keep chores to a bare minimum and simply take a step back, breathe, and enjoy a quieter day to focus on Him, God refreshes me both physically and spiritually -- and this benefits those around me, too, of course!

Obeying God first and foremost is foundational in fostering vitality and reducing the likelihood of burnout, regardless of how this actually pans out as seasons of life ebb and flow. I smile when I think of God's generosity, giving us gifts that draw us close to Him and refresh us: His Word, His presence, solitude, rain, rest, and memories of His faithfulness. I'm curious what you find helpful for maintaining spiritual vitality and would love to hear from you, either a comment or personal message. May we walk in obedience to the Holy Spirit's leading and receive the blessings God has prepared for us!