Monday, July 7, 2014

sabbaticals are not for the faint of heart

During the insane-o busy week before our month-long break from all things ministry, I thought I might be going a little crazy and I spoke these words to my husband:

"I feel like we're not talking about everything really important because we're just trying to make it to Monday."

"Probably," he answered.

I nodded, resolutely accepting this reality. Then we went to sleep.



Aren't we just the cutest couple ever? The way we skirt confrontation, procrastinate potential conflict, and grit our teeth is adorable, like memes of puppies and kitty cats asleep in the laps of babies who are eating popsicles on the beach.

Our precious, messy life is bananas.

In our defense, the month off loomed somewhat ominously. Or maybe the sabbatical was the prize luring us at the end of big race, like the chocolate milkshakes my dad and I shared after my races ended and they turned off the stadium lights at my high school track meets.

"Do your work, then enjoy your reward" isn't the worst motto in life. Except life isn't a race and the lights over the church never get turned off. Like- never, never, ever.

Also, this sabbatical is less like a chocolate milkshake and more like a post-race ice jacuzzi bath: It is shockingly needed and agonizingly hard to plunge into at first.

Our usual church and kid-schedule workload doesn't leave a lot of space for emotional focus on our personal lives. This time off is like soul rehab. As the deep tides of our hearts well up and thaw out in the light, I'm increasingly uncomfortable with this process.

Put simply, "all the feels" keep surfacing. (Apparently I am full of some complex "feels".) This rehab requires untangling a knotted mess of emotions that's been growing for five years.

I know now that it is easier to be too busy to talk about what's important than to actually deal with what's important.
Sabbaticalling is good, but it takes internal work to detox like this.




Suddenly there is time to care that we have unfinished relational business. We have time to feel offended and we also have the time and emotional focus to sort out the offenses. There is time to feel hungry and tired, and we actually have the energy to do something about it. There is time to feel mad, talk it out, make up, and still watch a movie before we go to bed. There is time to leisurely mention things God has spoken to us without the added stress of scheduling an appointment or hiring a babysitter.

Frankly, I was a little afraid of this sabbatical. Yes, I knew we needed it, but I wasn't sure we had the chutzpah required to endure a sustained time of rest and internal growth.

Working to build space for others to grow is always easier than working to build space for yourself to grow. It's the truth, and it's the reason so many pastors burn out too early in life.

We don't want that to be our story. So we are doing the hard work to strengthen our family for the long haul. Where God leads us, He also meets us and empowers us to live for His glory.

We are eager to love and obey Him. We hope to even delight the Mightiest Almighty with our devotion and obedience. He has given us a marriage that is adorbs in a slightly wacky way, and a gaggle of children who are the best thing in our lives. As we rest and recover, we are realizing that our lives are full even when our schedule isn't.

Everything important for today is right here in front of us, and I think we will sit and cherish it over chocolate milkshakes. Because maybe the lights do turn off in a way, and a reward would be heavenly right about now.


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