I'm a daughter, granddaughter & niece of pastors. I love God & studying the Bible and want to empower others to do the same.
Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. -Psalm 62:5-6
People can overwhelm me. I have a friend whom I love dearly, but is very opposite of me in the morning. She is high energy, excited, has a lot of words to speak, and a lot of topics she wants to cover right after she finishes her quiet time in the morning. These are all great things to be! And I wish my brain could keep up with hers first thing in the morning. But I am not this way, unfortunately. I can’t always keep up with everyone in my circles. Some friends are way ahead of me in their skills and physical or mental ability and energy at times. My friend often gets up earlier than I do, and I wake to find anywhere from 4-8 new messages on my phone, often each one on a different topic. To some people, this is no problem. They have their morning coffee, and their brains are raring to go. While my brain does work best with writing and thinking in the morning, first it needs coffee and Jesus: quiet time with gratitude journaling and prayer and Bible reading time to reset. Sometimes friends’ messages unintentionally interrupt this and I allow it to distract me. I’m learning what I need to do is keep my phone on silent and hold off on responding until my prayer and Bible reading time is finished if I want to give people the best me (and also not check emails or social media). If I don’t set these boundaries for myself, knowing my limitations, and I allow the interruptions to distract me, then they and the myriad of topics all my friends want to discuss with me in the morning can make me anxious, overwhelmed, and drained very quickly. I’m learning to speak what I need based on my limits, including giving myself short, periodic breaks and bits of rest. If I’m going to fully discuss multiple topics, I need to focus on and discuss them only one or two at a time, not more than 3 at once before noon. I can only converse with so many people first thing, and I definitely don’t need to immediately reply to every message immediately after receiving it. People will understand if it takes me time to get back to them about things that aren’t an emergency (and if they don’t then I probably shouldn’t be close friends with them).
I need to give grace and have patience with family and friends who don’t know my schedule, and not expect them to know. So it’s up to me to carve out times of rest, of renewal in between all the people and items that want my attention, when I make myself unavailable, unplugged, set aside my phone, and not respond immediately to every person who messages me. On days when I do respond to everyone before I spend time with the Lord, I’m exhausted before my day starts, and I am far less productive and more irritable. The same would happen if I were to wake and respond to every email. Instead, I’m learning to put my phone on silent, ignore all the notifications, and go first to prayer, thankfulness, and the Bible to read the verses or chapters for the day. All those notifications and people will still be there later; God needs to be my priority, because true rest and refreshment come from time with Him, not other people. When I’ve finished my quiet time and respond to all the people and their messages and I’m drained from all the words and talking (I’m definitely an introvert with a limited number of words, topics, and interactions before I need to go away and recharge), I’m so, so thankful that God is waiting there still, offering me rest.
Many of my friends ask me for advice or prayer or Scripture on a fairly regular basis. Others, especially the unsaved ones, consider me a good listening ear or sounding board for ideas or a place where they can vent and feel better because they know I will meet them with compassion, if not also a solution. I love my friends dearly and don’t mind doing this for them. They have for me many, many times. But, especially when it is two to four of them at once or all before 9 am, this drains me quickly mentally (and more so the older I get) and emotionally. Some days I’ve counseled or encouraged 3 or 4 people before noon, sometimes for an hour each, and suddenly my batteries have completely run out for any more conversations at all or even certain tasks. My brain is utterly exhausted and can’t think, and my heart is overwhelmed with compassion and wanting to help them, and I am drained, needing rest and quiet. My social battery, my ability to process any more new information, and the number of words I can listen to has suddenly hit maximum capacity and I need a break from people. I need renewal.
A smart friend once taught me a phrase she used with her children, lovingly, to let them know when they had talked past her capacity to listen anymore (sometimes hours straight of non stop talking, right from one subject to the next!) and she needed a little break: “I love you, and I enjoy talking with and listening to you, but we’ve passed the number of words I can listen to right now. We’ve talked as much as I can handle, so let’s take a break and come back later and talk more.” The short version, spoken in grace for her young ones in a way they can understand was, “I love you, but you’re talking more than I can listen right now. Let’s take a break right now and talk more later.” I love that expression, and use it often myself, kindly, gently, but with love. And when I hit this capacity, this threshold for listening and talking and engaging with people (especially those who have a lot of words), I’m so thankful I can go back to the Bible and prayer, and that God’s words are NEVER more than I can listen, because unlike human words which drain, God’s words give rest and restore my soul. (Ps. 23:3, 62:1)
When I spend time listening to other people’s problems, I love them so much I want to fix it, and I grow frustrated when I can’t, or when I can't take away their pain, sorrow, or suffering. But I can give this to the Savior in prayer and leave it there for Him to solve, when and how He sees fit; then I find rest. I am so very thankful for this. A wise older Christian woman once told me “I’m not the fixer! I’m not responsible for anyone else’s anything.” And what a relief! The outcome, other people’s problems, their emotions or actions, none of it is my responsibility and I’m thankful and relieved I can instead hand that over to One far more capable and loving and wise than I will ever be. I can hand it all over to Him and rest in knowing He’s got it, He’s got them. It’s all handled far better than I ever could, no matter how much I love them.
And when people have drained me for words and listening, I can go back to Scripture and read a Psalm or favorite passage or chapter, or a little devotional I love and rest, and become rejuvenated, restored.
I’m thankful I live in an age of technology and abundant devotionals so that, no matter my time constraint, I can get a brief moment in God’s Word and encouragement. If I have 10 or 15 minutes, I can read an entire chapter. If I only have 5 minutes, I can read Daily Hope with Rick Warren. If only 3-4 minutes, I can read Jesus Calling. If I only have 1-2 minutes, I can read a verse from Praying God’s Word, Fervent, the Bible app Verse of the Day, or Bible Gateway verse of the day (the last two of which are available online through my phone at any time). I’m so thankful for the abundant opportunities to be refreshed by God, so that I am without excuse.
It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. -John 6:63
People won’t always help each other be renewed or rejuvenated. Sometimes we hope they will and they don’t and it lets us down. But God’s Word gives life, refreshment, restoration, renewal. It’s like water to a dehydrated man in the desert. Jesus came to give life in abundance, overflow, “more and better life than we could ask or imagine,” as a former pastor of mine used to say. Only God’s Words, only the Spirit, can do this, can offer us the refreshment we need to recharge in order to go back out and face whatever the rest of the day holds for us, whatever other demands people and work may make of us. At the beginning of the day, I start with quiet time and rest in God’s Word and prayer. In the middle of the day, when my battery runs out from many demands, I sneak off to a quiet place to pray about what’s happened so far, and to read a quick devotional or Bible passage and find rest again, peace for the things that make me anxious or overwhelmed or frustrated. Before bed when my mind is swirling with all the happenings of the day, tomorrow’s to-dos, and all my concerns, I give them to God in prayer and go back to the Psalms. I read one before sleep and then I find rest, peace, to calm my thoughts, entrust it all to my Savior, and slip into peaceful sleep without bad dreams. Jesus offers a rest like no other, and time with Him is the way to it, even if only two or five minutes, at any time of day. Social media and texting everyone back immediately is draining. The same time spent with God is renewing. I’m thankful I can find rest in my Father’s more than capable, all-powerful hands. He holds it all: me, my friends’ problems, my lack of energy or wisdom, my cares, my loved ones; He holds the universe. I’m thankful that at any time, I can let go of it all to Him, dumpt it at His feet to give solutions, and find rest and renewal.
For more verses about this, read: Mark 6:31, Heb. 4:10, Ex. 23:12, Deut. 5:14, Ps. 116:7
© 2021 Amanda Lorenzo