Observations for October

Since Friday, I have had the pleasure of gathering two separate times with two different groups of women. Both groups come together regularly to share about life, to pray, and to reflect on what God is doing in our midst. I always enjoy the fellowship and the opportunity to hear from others… to get support from outside of myself. Community is important.

Sometimes it’s easier for me to veer away from others and groups. To step back from excessive community. I think this is the result of working in two vocations that require a lot of person-to-person connection, heartfelt listening, empathy, encouragement, discipleship, passion, and energy. Counseling and church ministry. Both roles are abundant blessings, but it is true that there are times of feeling drained…poured out…empty…dry. There is a certain sense of fulfillment in this, as odd as that may sound. But I know that the empty, dry, poured-out feeling is the result of having given a lot for the betterment and support of others. It is an indication that I have done my jobs well, but I also stay aware that it is no permanent state to remain in.

Being filled back up is crucially important, because running on empty for a prolonged amount of time is the recipe for burnout. A word I have heard all too much in relation to both counseling and church ministry work. And so, I have to keep a hold of things that fill me back up in life. These “things” have changed with certain seasons, but right now I am trying to keep a healthy balance through implementing rest, prayer, fun, nutrition, time with my husband, family and friends, time for creativity and randomness, and time with others who are like-minded in their relationships with God and can support me as I support them. Sometimes it is harder to do. Harder to implement these things because life is whirling by so quickly. The entire month of October has felt that way. But nevertheless, I remind myself that it is not only good to implement practices that bring balance, but it is a necessity. I have stopped to picture what I might be like even 15 years down the road if I never learn to stop. drop. and enjoy my life. As I touched on in my last post…everything can be put off to a later date, including health, joy, and fulfillment. I, like many, am skilled in the excuse making business. But I guess I’m just realizing that if I don’t learn to be mindful of what I can do and what I can’t do (to emphasize good boundary talk) at the age of 28, then perhaps I may never learn. My boundaries to protect balance and wholeness will remain diffused and unclear, and I will ultimately suffer more than anyone else.

So this brings me back to my initial point in this post about meeting with my two small groups of women. Even on the weeks when it takes everything within me to simply attend these groups, I never fail to get poured into through them. Sometimes the refueling comes simply by prayer together. Other times it’s the conversations about each other’s lives, and getting to share about what I’ve been up to, what I see the Lord doing, or what has been weighing heavily upon me. Other times it’s in the shared reflections of the group.

I witnessed this on Saturday morning when I sat in a room of women sharing their lessons-learned from a book we’re working through together. Almost every woman in the room shared about how they have recently experienced a season of change or transition…how it leaves us all feeling a bit “funky” when we are in those seasons with God. It can leave us feeling unsure of what to stand on, what to rely on, and what to think. But each of us agreed that in those moments of our faith journeys, God continues to show the way…even in the desert places. He is the cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. And most often, we come through to the other side feeling more empowered, more refined, more at peace in various life circumstances, and overall more reliant upon our One True Source.

So tonight I sit here reminded again of the importance of the balance between pouring out and being poured into. And I sign off with gratitude for the people in my life who pour back into me and relieve the parched places of my soul, so that I don’t attempt to trudge through daily life on shallowness and fumes.

And all praise be to the Lord who gives me my daily bread, provides me with a place to rest,

and fills me with the sustenance needed to move forward.

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