The whole reason for sharing this story is to stress the importance of self-care and of simplifying our lives. When we stretch ourselves too thin, nothing gets addressed appropriately, and it is an unhealthy way to spend our short time on this beautiful rock we call earth. That being said, it’s incredibly difficult to pare down our overly active lives. So much work and play is so important to us, and much of it is good. And our time spent in play is absolutely necessary as well. We need those things that recharge our batteries.
All of this being said, something had to give for me, and something likely has to give for you as well when you’re stretched to thin. The key is to simplify our lives before we reach that point. This is one of the areas that the Wesleyan Order of St Francis has been so helpful to me. Our focus on solidarity with the marginalized reorients me to living more simply and to be cognizant of my excesses that consume too much of my precious time and resources. This focus is not enough though. Without the accountability provided by the structure of our Order, it would be too easy to give myself a pass and backslide into old practices and habits. This isn’t to say that I don’t fail. To be honest, the days when I fail far outnumber the days when I somehow, by the grace of God, manage to succeed in living more humbly and simply.
I suppose at this point it would be helpful to provide some strategies that have begun to work for me (though, since each of us is different, I can’t guarantee these will work for you, but they’re a starting point). First, I’ve allowed myself to slow my life down. Busyness is not the same as productivity. The quality of your work (and life) matters more than the quantity that you output. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, right? Second, don’t underestimate the power of taking time to enjoy a nice cup of coffee or tea. I’m not talking about rushing through the Starbuck’s drive-thru and appreciating the caffeine rush as you gulp it down on your way to work. Really sit down, slow down and sip that beverage in the company of an appreciated friend or coworker. Enjoy it while doing your daily devotion or mediation practice. Speaking of devotion/meditation, this has been key. Taking the 15/20 minutes to begin my day in the presence of God has done wonders for me. I feel more grounded and it has improved everything that I confessed suffered above. It’s been even better when I can open and close the day this way. Most importantly, just breathe — we were created for relationship, and we can’t rush relationships without them suffering.
Kyle Gould has begun the candidacy process for ordination as an Elder in the United Methodist Church and is an M.Div. with a specialization in Hebrew student at Methodist Theological School in Ohio. He is currently the Student Pastor at Lewis Center UMC and the Sacristan at MTSO. He enjoys his work, but he especially enjoys quality time with his wife, Courtney, and their nutbag black lab, Jethro.