Sunday 7 May 2023

Learning to let go

'Letting go' seems to be a bit of a theme in my life right now.

When we went camping the other week, I'd mentioned that we ended up coming home a day earlier than planned.  I said I'd done a pretty good job at staying in 'holiday mode' back home, but that's not the whole story :-)

We got home mid-afternoon on the Monday and, whilst I stayed away from the internet until late Tuesday, as soon as we got home I started writing lists.  Lists of what I needed to change on our notes about camping supplies, lists of what I needed to do that week, probably other lists, too!  Even though I wasn't 'doing' anything, I instantly became stressed.

On the Tuesday morning, I woke up early-ish, took up a cup of tea and went to sit on the back step to enjoy the morning.

Almost immediately, I noticed our bean plants, and went to check if they had beans that needed picking.  I went back to sit, but then found myself checking the fig and feijoa for fruit that had ripened while we were away.  Getting frustrated with myself, I went to sit again, but then noticed our last pumpkin vine had finally died, so I went to pick its last pumpkin and then pulled out the vine and popped it in the compost...

I just couldn't be still now I was back at home :-(

Eventually, I went and got my journal and started trying to process what was going on.

I feel like everything is my responsibility, and that it's super-important to be 'responsible' at all times.  I can't let food go to waste in our garden.  I can't not have an optimal packing list for next time we go camping.  Everything is my responsibility, and the world will fall over if I'm not responsible.

Which is, of course, ludicrous.

I feel like I should do everything perfectly - and that I should make sure everything full stop is perfect.

It makes me so tired.  And it makes me cross with other people when I see them taking rest or letting things slide, too.

There's a bit in the Bible where Paul is writing to Jewish Christians, where he talks about how Christians can expect to enter the 'Sabbath rest of the people of God' (Hebrews 4:1-11).  Whilst that's mostly about what happens after you die, I think it's also about now.  And I was saying to God that I long to enter that rest now - to not be so burdened all the time.  I shouldn't be stressed the instant I enter my home!

So I told God that I wanted to rest.  That I know that the whole world isn't my responsibility, and could He please help me to let go.  To trust Him, and to trust that whatever He allows to happen will be OK.  And, especially as I returned to the working world, could He please help me to keep on trusting - to rest when I was tired, to be diverted when something interesting came up.  To let others be imperfect; to let myself be imperfect.  And to take delight in God and in those I share my life with - rather than just focus on work!

That was nearly two weeks ago, and it's been a good two weeks.  I've found I've continued in a much more restful vein and:

  • I've stopped working when I was tired.  A number of days that's meant I haven't been active for a full six hours that day (normally I aim to be 'up' for six hours between breakfast and dinner each day).
  • I've found I hardly been playing Solitaire in my 'down' times at all.  Normally I play Solitaire a lot in my rest times (whilst listening to the radio etc.), as I find it stops me from browsing the internet or doing other things that drain even more energy.  But it's a mixed blessing: it's better than browsing the internet, but it definitely drains energy, too.  These past two weeks I've mostly been able to simply rest, and haven't needed that distraction.  I've only turned to it when I got overtired, or when I was upset about something.
  • I've been able to make more time for people.  I've been able to stop and properly listen on several occasions when either Martin or Sarah were up for a chat, and last Sunday I was even able to invite someone home for lunch after church - something I normally can't ever do!

It's not like the whole world's changed (and today I'm actually fairly out-of-sorts after getting exhausted when our church service went on uncommonly long), but I do feel like it's been a significant breakthrough.

Learning to rest definitely seems to be a bit of a theme for me right now (I wrote about it in both May and August last year, too).  I'm encouraged by how God continues to work on this in me, and also by how I do seem to be making progress - even though there's plenty more to go!

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