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Taking Stock When Life is Crazy

I thought I'd share a way of thinking about life that I've found extremely helpful. This has helped me after the births of my children, during the holiday seasons, and when on vacations—whenever life is busy, really. It is during these busy seasons that I often forget to take care of myself and as a result begin to run low in one of these four areas: my physical well-being, my mental space for thinking, my engaging in multiple healthy relationships, and my focus and reliance upon the Lord. 

When I run around all day, I frequently forget to eat (physcial neglect). When I go from one family function to another, I have no time to recharge on my own (mental neglect). When I am ill for a week, I don't go anywhere or see anyone (relational neglect). Lastly, when I think I've got my life managed quite well, I forget about God (spiritual neglect).

I've come to realize that I am responsible for meeting all these needs. No one is responsible for them but me. It's not fair for me to get angry at my husband or children or friends for sapping my energies in these areas. I am in charge of saying no in order to maintain my own needs. 

A few details about each category: under physical needs I would include eating, sleeping, exercise, and sex. Under mental needs, I would also include my need to take in and process new information. My relational needs can't be met by just anyone, but rather those who are closest to me. So if I don't connect with my husband for a long time, I feel an emptiness. If I don't see my children for a few days, I miss them too. I also have a few sweet friends that I miss when I don't connect for awhile. The spiritual needs tank has many facets. I can spend lots of time talking to God but not reading his word and so I feel an emptiness there. I can read his word everyday but not connect with it and feel an emptiness. I can also neglect prayer. Petition, reading the bible, application and discussing things with God are all facets of abiding with the Lord.

Usually when I start to neglect one area of my life, certain warning signs start to appear. For example, I get really judgmental or fearful when my spiritual needs aren't being met. I start hating my kids when my relational needs aren't being met. I get really irritated and ungrateful when my mental needs aren't being met. And I can wind up in the doctor's office if I don't meet my physical needs.

Recognizing and accurately naming the warning signs are the hardest parts of all this. It means I have to stop and notice that something is not right inside me. Then I have to take stock of my needs and figure out what is low. Lastly, I have to find a way to get those needs met. 

Stressful situations have shown me what I can do without. I used to think I had to have eight hours of sleep a night in order to be pleasant and functional. Having children has shown me that I can get by with much less and still be kind to others. I used to think that I had to have a time to myself each day to be nice. Turns out, that's not essential either.

In truth, I've learned that when my spiritual needs are being met, sometimes I don't need all my other needs to be fully met. God sometimes gives me my health, my mental food, and my relational fix. This is not the norm, but sometimes it's all I can get. So, being with Him and Him with me must take priority because it is the bread and butter of my soul.


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