“The caregiver needs rest, too,” our Canadian ministry cohort advised. “You need to take time out,” my former internship director urged. “You need to rest,” my husband kindly said. Who? Me? Nah, I’m fine.
I just need a bigger cape.
I bet you, like me, have an invisible superhero cape. I wear mine daily and take on all of the responsibilites that come with it. My superhero cape reads, “Pastor’s Wife, Discipleship Leader, Health Educator, Spanish Student, Counselor, Advisor, Mentor, Daughter, Sister, and Friend.”
I am busy. I like busy. Busy makes me feel important. But busy does not allow time for rest, and in my busyness, I had removed the most important title from my cape, “Disciple of Christ.” I had stopped resting not only physically and emotionally, but spiritually. Too busy caring for the needs of others, I had stopped taking time to just bask in the presence of my Lord. Even Jesus, God incarnate, took time to draw away from the crowds (Lk 5:16). Who was I to think I did not need spiritual rest?
So, I took off my cape and ran away from home (for four days).
I visited a local arboretum. With my phone turned off, I wandered the gardens for hours and read the Psalms. “The heavens declare the glory of God…” (Ps 19:1 NIV). “My heart says of you, ‘Seek his face!’ Your face, LORD, I will seek” (27:8). “Yet I am poor and needy; may the Lord think of me. You are my help and my deliverer; O my God, do not delay” (40:17). Then I spent the weekend with friends, friends with whom I can be myself. They fed me—there is nothing like homecooked Mexican food!—listened to me, and prayed with me.
I returned home refreshed (and a few pounds heavier).
Refreshed—so that I could be a caregiver to my husband when he returned home from an arduous ministry trip. Refreshed—so that I could lead my discipleship group with authenticity and grace. Refreshed—so that I could serve others out of God’s strength instead of my own.
Are you in need of refreshment? What invisible cape(s) are you wearing? Are you aware of the possible effects of your superhero complex?
How Continuously “Saving the Day” Affects You and Others:
- Others learn to rely on you, not God, and thus do not grow spiritually.
- Others do not learn how to search out answers for themselves.
- Others do not learn to how to lead.
- Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health suffers.
- Your physical, emotional, and spiritual health suffers. (This point bears repeating.)
- Your leadership capacity quickly becomes dry and empty.
How to Take Off Your Cape and Run Away (by the Minute or Hour):
- Pack a lunch, walk to a local park during your lunch hour, turn off your phone, and enjoy God’s creation.
- Arrive 30 minutes early to work, park a couple of blocks away, and read and pray through the Psalms or a favorite devotional.
- Take a 30 minute walk around your neighborhood (without answering your phone).
- Answer that phone call or text message later.
- Set your phone to “Do Not Disturb” between the hours of 9 pm and 8 am.
- Conside ignoring (or turning off) your phone one day a week. (You and others will survive.)
- Turn off those pesky e-mail and social media notifications on your phone. (They only serve as distractions and increase stress levels.)
- Trade childsitting or petsitting days/nights with friends or neighbors.
- Prayerfully consider and ask the Lord what, if any, of your superhero titles need to be reduced or even eliminated.
- Schedule rest, mark it on your calendar, and defend that time vigorously.
Scripture tells us there is only one true superhero—Jesus. I think it’s about time I reduced the titles on my superhero cape and, perhaps, surrendered my cape altogether.
Question: In what ways will you surrender your superhero cape this week?
Photo courtesy of Lightstock.