Updated: Sep 17, 2019
We made it to our final letter of JOY! The Y; the YOU!
I have a feeling if God was a betting man, He’d put his money on you. You are His best idea.
One of the ways I connect with God is through nature. Mountains, beaches, sunsets, flowers and a fresh blanket of snow are all ways I see the Lord on earth. Sunsets are my favorite! There’s something about the reds, oranges and yellows that vividly paint the sky in the moments after the sun sinks below the horizon. These moments are captivating and give me a sense of stillness and peace. Thanks to my handy dandy iPhone, here are a few pictures of my favorite sunsets!
I remember gazing at the sky after one of the pictured sunsets and thought to myself, “That is so beautiful.” Only God can create a mural so magnificent. In that moment, I felt the Lord say, “Mandy, the way you look at the sunset is how I look at YOU. I adore you.”
As I’ve gotten older, I’ve started to let the Lord’s love for me sink in. I am loved and so are you. I haven’t always believed this or felt it, but because I now realize how valuable I am in Christ, I feel a sense of responsibility to honor Him with what He has given me.
Since JOY means Jesus, others and ourselves, we are called to take care of our minds, bodies and souls so we can spread joy as a means to honor Him. We have a responsibility to be self-aware, others-oriented and present enough to recognize opportunities to serve and love, which also includes loving ourselves! Because He loves us, we’re worth loving.
One area I neglected in my 20’s was rest. Life can be exhausting, right? Whether you’re young, old, single, married, male, female – the reality of busyness being the norm for most people is real. Beyond being busy, sometimes life’s circumstances in general can be exhausting. Singleness, marriage, work, no work, babies, no babies, you name it. The daily grind can leave any person feeling empty, and in desperate need to recharge.
Beyond the daily grind, who wants to miss out on a good time? Not me! I have rolled into work on a Monday after a fun weekend looking like Lurch from the Addams Family. Most of the time it’s worth it, but I sacrifice my rest in the process. I’m all about YOLO, but finding balance is important too!
Getting rest is a way to love yourself, others, and most importantly, a way to love the Lord.
Does anyone love naps? If you do, you have something in common with my husband again! Kyle can fall asleep almost anywhere at any time. It’s a gift and I’m jealous. Jesus also took naps! His friends woke him up one time when they were in a pickle and Jesus, of course, graciously rescued them. When someone wakes me up, I want to karate chop them in the face! I am nowhere near gracious!
Once again, Jesus is an example for us. His plate was fuller than ours will ever be. He relaxed and rested when he could so he could love his father and others. Jesus wasn’t being lazy; he was being obedient. I think it’s probably a good idea for us to do the same.
When I neglect to take care of myself, I don’t see the beauty in daily life. I walk quickly by flowers or trees that deserve a stare. I brush by my husband instead of hold him tightly. I forget to bend down to pet my sweet dog, Dolly. I don’t take time to smell the dinner I just cooked (or threw in the microwave depending on the day). I turn into a person I don’t want to be, and miss out on the sweetest moments I deep down long to embrace.
What, if anything, can you say no to in order to become the best you in a busy season? What do you need to say yes to? How can you create space in your schedule so you can rest?
When you wake up in the morning, don’t be afraid to start by asking God for help with your schedule. If you pause long enough to listen, I bet He will give you answers to what (or who) needs to stay and go.
Rest is just one example of an area I needed and still need to get right in order to be who God has called me to be. During the week, I take time to ask myself these questions as a check-in:
Am I getting enough sleep/rest to recharge?
Am I getting enough/too much exercise?
Am I working too much?
Am I spending time with people who lift me up or weigh me down?
Am I spending quiet time with the Lord?
Am I having fun?
If I answer “no” to any of those questions I know I need to make changes! It’s our responsibility to identify where we are and respond accordingly. One of my favorite Rick Warren quotes is, “To blame is to b-lame.” Take responsibility for how you are feeling and make the changes you need to in order to be the best you! Nobody else can make your changes for you. Pray for courage and boldness to make the moves you need to make. He will help you!
I’ll close with this:
One of my favorite things to do when I first wake up is make a list of things I’m grateful for because it sets the tone for my day. I begin with a hopeful, thankful heart. Being stretched thin usually leads me to be less than my best, but if I take time to show gratitude, I can feel joy in the busyness.
We serve the Lord, others and ourselves when we take time to slow down.
You’re worth taking care of. You’re allowed to take a nap. You’re allowed to go to bed early instead of go to a party. You’re allowed to say no to people. Let yourself rest so that you can truly live a life of joy.
Have an awesome week!
What is one thing you can do today to give yourself a break?
What are you grateful for today?
How can you create space in your schedule so you can rest?