Updated: Sep 14, 2019
I have just come off of a year and a half of "rest." Let me rephrase that - a year and a half ago, I reluctantly took a step off the hamster wheel. Wow...so much in that one sentence! My hamster wheel included seminary, an internship, founding and building a shelter for homeless women/children AND being a wife (to an amazing husband) and mom to three teenage boys. The shelter opened, my internship ended and I graduated from seminary all in the same month. Whoa, talk about a "suddenly" time! During that time, most days it was hard for me to take a deep breath in. Not a good sign, but everybody experiences that right!? After the shelter had been opened for almost a year, I was literally at my breaking point. To top things off, my husband's close friend committed suicide three months prior to my "forced rest" and my "forced rest" came right before my ailing father passed away and THEN, eight days later my 38 year old brother passed. Just writing all of that makes me wonder how I got through all of that, but the UNDENIABLE answer is GOD! God got me through every single second. On the way to the hospital (as I was bawling my eyes out) to visit my dad who was just told he was being put into hospice, I asked God who He wanted to be for me in that moment. Without hesitation, I heard the word "Comforter." And Comforter he was! We ended up having a double funeral for my dad and brother. God was working so powerfully as Comforter for myself and my precious mother that it felt like we were the ones comforting those coming to the funeral! I stood on this Scripture: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God." (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
After resigning from the shelter work (God clearly communicated to me through Scripture to resign) and after all the dust had settled from the funerals, I.didn't.have.anything.to.do. Now, this may seem glorious and dreamy to you, but when you've been running top speed on a hamster wheel, it feels horrible. I wanted (needed) to throw myself into....SOMETHING! Something meaningful and Godly...because that's the only way we can keep God happy, right? We run from one thing to the next, barely keeping all the balls in the air and that just makes God so happy because we are not wasting any of the precious time He has given us. Wrong. So.Very.Wrong. God loves us because He loves us, not because of what we "do" for him. What a trap we fall into when we think like that. Why can't we understand that our Father in Heaven would want us to rest and take care of ourselves. Is it because we don't feel worthy? I'm sure that was my issue. I literally had to force myself to stop wanting, stop trying, stop plunging forward and REST. To enjoy the moment. To enjoy my family. To enjoy my surroundings. During prayer one day, the Lord gave me a vision of me in a cart pulled by two horses. These horses were sprinting as fast as they could and I was holding on to the reigns for dear life. I heard the Lord say, Angela, "let go of the reigns." I hesitated, but I finally did it. The cart stopped with a screeching halt and I saw the horses and the dust they kicked up speeding away without stopping. I was left in a cloud of dust alone in the cart. Immediately, I could feel the warm breeze. I started to hear birds chirping and bugs singing. The dust was settling and the Lord told me to look around because I was going to be there for awhile. He wanted me to make my cart beautiful and comfy because I wasn't going anywhere.
After the Lord gave me this vision, I mentally prepared myself to just be content in my circumstances. I started to spruce things up around my house that had long since been neglected. I started doing meal planning and made it a real effort to have good meals for my family. I started doing Sudoku and cracked open the coloring books that were collecting dust on my shelves. I started REALLY engaging with my children and made a promise to myself not to complain when I felt like a taxi. I started embracing the mountain of laundry I faced and told myself that someday I'll miss it. I started looking at things differently and I started to be more grateful for everything that God has blessed me with. I started swimming twice a week and I started eating healthy. I can't say that any of that was easy, but it was where God wanted me. The prior seven years had beat me up physically and spiritually. I needed rest and recuperation AND I needed to take care of my body.
Why is it that when God allows us to get off the hamster wheel, we want so badly to jump right back on? Is it because that is what we are used to? We feel comfortable there? It's familiar? God was inviting me to rest and now I had to learn how.
Over this last year of "forced rest," God has clearly shown me that He never wants me to jump back on the hamster wheel. We are not meant to be on the hamster wheel. We are to seek God, serve our family and the rest will follow.
Is God calling you to jump off the hamster wheel? Have you had the courage to jump off, but are contemplating getting back on? My advice to you would be this, "Be still and know that He is God." (Psalm 46:10) Delaying rest is only delaying the peace and health in your life. A wise woman once said to me, "Angela, look at your plate and if there's something on your plate that God did not put there, remove it." Look at your plate (all the things in your life). If there's something on your plate that God did not ask you to put there, remove it!
Bye, bye hamster wheel!