Slowing down is weak.
Emotions are pointless.
If I just keep going, I’ll get through it, right?!
Ever believed any of these? Me too, and it almost broke me.
Every Saturday, a friend and I used to meet up for a long run, which often included deep talks. (My philosophy is: if you’re not able to talk while running, you’re going too fast.) It was in the midst of one of these 5-milers that I started to fall apart.
Over the past few months, I’d been through a breakup, ended a brief “situationship,” and had an ex come back into my life.
As I was running, all the relationship trauma started to hit me. I have a past history of dealing with things belatedly and talking myself out of perfectly valid emotions for fear of being “weak” for admitting them.
I don’t know if you can relate to this at all, but I had jumped from one thing to the next without stopping to process and really deal with my emotions. I did what you’re told to do when you fall from the monkey bars on the playground. I stopped, made sure I wasn’t deeply injured, brushed myself off, and got right back on. I didn’t see any real damage, so I was fine, right?
You guessed it: wrong.
So back to my run: I was rambling to my friend about how I just needed to push through and was listing potential things I could get involved in, like leading a new group or starting a new project. There was an opportunity here to maximize my newfound free time. I just needed to forge ahead.
I was mid-sentence when she put a hand up and told me to stop.
“Wait. Nicole. I think you just need to take a break.” This turned into a conversation about how I was trying to move past my issues by very literally running from them. When instead, I should prioritize caring for myself.
As I was listing these things to my friend, the evidence that I needed to take a breather was right in front of me. There was a flatness to my voice that betrayed any attempt to pretend that I felt normal. If I really wanted to take on these new challenges, wouldn’t I be excited? Just getting the words out of my throat was an effort.
I had been emotionally sinking—to the point where getting out of bed posed an effort. It felt like I had nothing to look forward to; even getting together with friends didn’t hold the joy it normally did.
Culture tells us to keep going, no matter what trials or losses we face, but when we fail to listen to our bodies, it begins to show. As someone who follows Jesus, I knew this on some level, but I kept living as if I could somehow outrun it.
There’s a verse in the Bible where Jesus says, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
He designed our bodies to need rest. Not just physically, but emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and relationally too. We’re literally designed to require the rest that God provides to us. When we resist, we are doing ourselves a massive disservice. Everything that we do from a place of exhaustion will fall short.
Even if I was kidding myself for a minute, I clearly wasn’t fooling my best friend. I am so grateful to have a friend who cared enough about me to challenge me lovingly, to know what I needed before I knew it myself. Because I’m not sure that I would have given myself the grace to stop and rest or even recognized that’s what I needed.
I don’t know if you have that person in your life, but let’s pretend for a second I can do that for you.
You deserve to rest. You deserve to heal. You’re meant to thrive, but we can’t do that if we accumulate wounds and try to keep running around with them. It’s OK to take some time to not only get better but become strong.
What could it look like for you to take a break to take care of yourself?
I didn’t make many plans or set goals for myself for a few weeks following that conversation. And, I slowly regained my energy and started to feel much more like me. When I next set a new goal, I was actually excited about it.
Next time you fall from the monkey bars and have many emotions to deal with, do yourself a favor and pause. Listen to your body, tune into your emotions, and give yourself the physical and emotional rest you need. God wants you to come to him with your burdens so He can carry the weight for you.
Culture may shame you into running harder, but God never will. He wants to refresh and restore you. Let’s let Him.