Do You Need Permission Slow Down and Take Care of Yourself?

August and September are busy months in my line of work – college admissions. We’re busy wrapping up the details of our incoming class and beginning to focus in earnest on the new recruiting class already. It is a time of sort of “burning the candle at both ends” while these overlapping priorities splash against each other.

It is also a super busy time at home as the boys are starting school again and soccer and other activities are picking up full force. Needless to say, we’re running on all cylinders on both fronts.

Do you need permission to take a break and do something to take care of yourself today? What would it take to let that happen?

Over the last few years I’ve noticed a pattern in myself. About mid-September as the busyness begins to stack up and wear on me I start to feel a little overwhelmed and anxious.

Usually when I start to feel this way my initial reaction is to get frustrated with myself because I can’t seem to “handle it all.” It’s a self-defeating line of thinking that only makes me feel worse and bad habit that I’ve developed over a long period of time that’s pretty hard to kick.

One day last week during my morning quiet time I was caught up in this type of thinking when God reminded me of the following verse:

Zechariah 4:6 – So he said to me, “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

In this verse the Lord is speaking to Zerubbabel through the prophet Zechariah assuring him that the task of rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem is no problem for Him even though it seemed insurmountable to humans.

To me this verse is a reminder that God can do so much more than we can ever imagine and our responsibility is just to listen and follow Him.

Another verse that comes to mind is Matthew 11:28-30 where Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

How often do we believe the lie that we need to and can handle everything that life throws at us by ourselves?

I know it is a pattern for me. I’ll trust in God for a while and rely on him to carry me until things seem to be going better,  then I’ll take the reins back until the next time I’m overwhelmed or things aren’t going so well. It is almost as if I see it as a sign of weakness to need God’s help. How ridiculous is that?

Looking over my blog posts from this past year reveals an interesting view into this pattern. I wrote a post last October about the importance of extending grace to ourselves when we get stressed and overwhelmed or when past struggles crop up, one last March about why pushing ourselves too hard doesn’t usually end well and then one in April about the power of embracing our weaknesses which I know was at least partially inspired by me feeling stressed and overwhelmed and frustrated about it.

We live in a society of chronically busy, stressed, tired and anxious people. While I don’t think we can totally avoid being busy or occasionally a little stressed, I also don’t believe God intended us to consistently live in that state either. Like the above verse says he wants to give us rest and a light burden.

When we stop striving so hard and let God work we allow a burden be lifted that we were never meant to carry and open ourselves up to living in the type of freedom that God always intended.

Slowly instead of beating myself up for being “weak”, I’m learning to use these times of feeling overwhelmed like  a thermometer or an indicator that I need to slow down a bit and take care of myself before things go completely off the rails.

In these times I’m also trying to extend myself some grace and remember that I’m probably feeling this way because I’ve been trying carry a load I was never meant to hold and trying to live at a pace that I was never meant to move at.

I think sometimes we all need to be reminded that it is OK to slow down and that we have permission to take care of ourselves.

Hearing it from someone else somehow makes it OK. So take this as your permission. Consider what you need to let go of today so you can rest in God’s peace .  Leave it behind and then do something that refreshes you!


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