Last week, I was given the gift of time. I think of all of the things mothers long for, time is at the top of the list. Time to sleep. Time to eat. Time to rest. Time to read. Time to exercise. Time to play. Time to socialize. Time to be. And so often, we feel we just don’t have it. When I was given time for a sabbatical from my work at church, one of my first thoughts was, I want to get away. I want to be alone. I want time. Time with myself. Time with God. So, I sought out a place of retreat I had heard about. A cabin owned by a family, opened to pastors and missionaries to use for minimal cost. There were only a couple of available days remaining this summer, but the timing was perfect and I scooped up the remaining night that worked for me. I am admittedly an introvert and my desire to be alone is much stronger than most people’s, but I was still surprised at how overwhelmingly happy I was to wake up ALONE that Tuesday morning. Overjoyed, I felt God’s presence with me saying, “See! I love you! I gave you this time you so desperately needed. Yes Leah, you needed this. Now, rest, relax, enjoy.” While I ate my simple breakfast, I started to notice everything. The green in the trees. The clouds passing by the sky light. The scent of the wood burning stove. The birds in the bird-feeder. The purple in the wildflowers. The wind blowing through the aspen leaves. The classic knick-knacks all cabins must have. It was all so new to me, like I had never experienced those colors, scents, and sounds before. I wanted to document it all… I didn’t do much that day but read, journal, and see. Through slowing down I started to see God’s presence in the things around me. And I started to notice who I am and what I need in order to thrive as a mom, a wife, a pastor, a woman. One thing I need is time. Time is not my own at home. As with all moms, I am “on” 24 hours a day. Even the night-time is not my own as I am often woken up at 12, 2 or 4 in the morning because of a bad dream, a lost lovey, or a stuffy nose. My sabbatical has given me much more time, but that is coming to an end.
The question remains, how can I create time in my day? The answer for me is: I need to take it. I need to get up in the morning a little bit before everyone else to start my day calm and peaceful. I need to take some time to myself every night to rest in order to sleep. I even need to carve out time within my day by simply shutting my bedroom door for five breathes of peace away from my children. All of this means I will be saying no to my husband and no to my children. But in saying no to them, I can ultimately say yes to them, to myself, and to God, because I will be restored.
Being away helped me realize one more important thing: I need to get away. Usually, I can’t have quiet alone time at home. I need to get out of the house to be alone. So, I am keeping my eyes open to find places where I can escape. The local coffee shop, a nearby park, Ikea’s restaurant (free coffee! free childcare!)… there are so many options. IF I take them.
Thankfully I have a husband who understands my need to get away and often
encourages me to get kicks me out of the house. I may not feel like leaving. I didn’t on Monday. But if I hadn’t have left on Monday for that time alone, I wouldn’t have experienced the sweetness of being alone. I wouldn’t have received the love that was waiting for me there.
When it was time to pack up and return home on Tuesday afternoon, it struck me that I could have been discouraged to not have more than a day alone, but instead I chose to continue to embrace the time given to me. I laughed in delight at the cows lowing along the road as I closed the gate behind me. I stood in awe as I watched rain fall miles away.
And I prayed that God would continue to give me time.
Where do you find time for yourself? Time for God?
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.