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Stressed! Final Thoughts on "7"

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. – John 14:27

On any given month, my calendar completely overwhelms me. Can anyone relate?

My pathetic calendar (and yes, it's still on paper). Only 4 days that had nothing in them for the month of September!

 

Jen sums it up beautifully (and painfully): …we have too much going on. We are short fused, stressed out, overextended, and unrested. This pace is not sustainable. I don’t want it to be. This season of life is passing me by, accelerated by a lack of boundaries. Most days I just try to keep the wheels on, not living in the moment at all; I’m just getting it done while thinking about what’s left. My kids and husband get half answers, and eye contact is a crapshoot. Every day I could take a two-hour nap, so exhausted do I feel at 1:00pm. Such is the American life. Every one of my friends has a similar story. None of us are happy about it, yet we keep filling the calendars. Yes, I’m in; we’ll sign up; I’ll do it. We race from one activity to another, teaching our children to max out and stress out. Nice legacy. (1)

I feel this way most days and I hate it. I feel out of control and running on empty. There is a reason I feel this way. It is not God’s intention for me or my family!

This “7” book is digging up all kinds of issues for me, and I’m glad. Today I wanted to share the three ideas Jen gives in her book to decrease stress, to slow down, to learn to be still. They were not what I expected, and I think that’s why I love them so much.

1. Actually take a Sabbath with your family. Every week, for 24 hours. It’s not just something people did in Bible times. It’s a command from God and it’s worth noting that He is a really wise God. There is a reason He tells us to rest. We need it and without it, we are a mess.

I love Jen’s ideas for Sabbath. Her family’s Sabbath is from Saturday at supper to Sunday at supper. Here are some things they do during Sabbath rest: Cooked simple meals together, used nice dishes (you could decide on paper plates), had communion together (kids grape juice, adults wine), lit candles, read Scripture and prayed together, movie and popcorn night, hot chocolate, church on Sunday, naps, meals with extended family. I love these ideas and I’m so excited to start my family’s Sabbath rest together. I don’t want it to be something we just talk about or wish for.

Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. – Exodus 20:8-11 (emphasis mine)

You may have to do a little prep here to get ready for the Sabbath, but I believe it will be totally worth it. You may need to plan simple meals, prepare food ahead, prepare your family for rest, and definitely guard your calendar.

God will bless our obedience. It was life changing for Jen, and I believe it will be for my family (and yours) as well.

2. Jen read a book called “Seven Sacred Pauses” by Macrina Wiederkehr. The author suggested pausing seven times throughout the day to pray and be still, which greatly decreases stress and refocuses you on God. Jen did this for a month. At the beginning she kept forgetting to do the “pauses” until she starting setting her phone alarm for the seven different times throughout the day. Here are the seven different times she “paused:”

  • Midnight – (yes midnight) – focused prayer on interceding for the forgotten, the poor, the broken. Some suggestions for those you could pray for: abused women and children, women and children being raped, starving children, homeless, slaves all over this world, parents with sick and dying children, prisoners, orphans, widows and widowers, those who are suicidal, mentally ill, those who are addicted. Praying for those listed above would take the focus off of our stress and recalibrates our perspective, wouldn’t it? So many people are hurting in this dark world. Lord, remind us to pray for them often!
  • Dawn – focus on thankfulness for a new day, a new beginning.
  • Mid-morning- mindfulness of the Holy Spirit’s presence throughout our day.
  • Noon – focused prayer on God helping us to be a light, to shine brightly in this dark world.
  • Mid-afternoon – focus on surrender, wisdom, forgiveness, and the impermanence of this life. We are here on earth for such a short time.
  • Evening – focus on gratitude and serenity, transitioning from work mode to a more relaxed and restful mode.
  • Bedtime – focus on evaluating the day. An awareness of our weaknesses and strengths throughout the day.

I find this concept so interesting. Jen said it was hard, but throughout the month, it brought her freedom and clarity of mind. I long for that. My mind feels so cluttered and chaotic and tired. So I’m going to try these seven pauses this next week and beyond. Don’t make it a legalistic thing. Don’t let it be a yoke a bondage to you. That is not the intent. If you miss one (or more) of the pauses, don’t fret about it. It’s supposed to connect you with your Creator, and calm your stressed-out soul.

3. The third thing is that Jen and her family take eight days at her family ranch (usually about once a year), resting and just being together. They made it simple and fun, and it sounded life-giving. I also long for this. However, with small children, I have no idea how to pull this one off. We also don’t have a ranch in the family to go to. But I’m going to pray about this one, because I think it’s so important. God is in the miracle business, so I’ll let Him handle this one for me.

“My heart craves a slower life.” – Jen Hatmaker (2)

Mine longs for a slower life too. A slower mind especially. A simple life without all the “junk” is freeing. Again, I feel like repentance is appropriate here. But God doesn’t want me to wallow in my guilt. I need to repent and then move on. And change the way I’m doing things! With God’s direction, we are called to move to action.

I’m sure my family’s plan isn’t going to look exactly like Jen’s and mine won’t look like yours. But this book has been such a good blueprint to look at, to get ideas from. This is just a beginning for me. But I’m so excited to see what God has planned. I feel a shift happening. I feel the change in my heart, praise the Lord!

Thanks Jen Hatmaker for being brave and for challenging me to declutter my life, to clear my mind, to focus on Jesus, to slow down, to rest, to care more for those who are suffering in this world. You are a blessing!

Lord, help us to rest, to stop the madness of saying yes when our hearts cry is to say no. Help us to slow our pace at times, to pause, to take a Sabbath as you command. Forgive us and have mercy. Help us to break the cycle of crazy. Amen.

When you say yes to something there is less of you for something else. Make sure your yes is worth the less. – Louie Giglio

 

 

1. Source: “7, an experimental mutiny against excess,” by Jen Hatmaker, pg. 180
2. “7,” pg. 214

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If you are an imperfect wife, mom, daughter, or friend, struggling to stay focused on God in the craziness and find joy in the heartache, then we have something in common. I am a recovering perfectionist and daughter of the King, slowly learning to fully trust the One who sees me just as I am, and is already pleased. I’m so glad you are here.

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