When I hear people describe me words like loud, energetic, hyper and other variations on the theme seem to be a recurring refrain. And, to be fair, that’s true enough. In fact, I often tell people that I stay up late on Saturday nights, just so calm me down a bit for Sunday mornings. If I started a Sunday well-rested, I don’t think the congregation could keep up!
And so, in my early days of pastoral ministry, I didn’t sleep a whole lot. During Seminary, I’d stay up studying most nights until 11pm or so, then get up at 3:30am to throw papers for the Denver Post. Probably once a week I’d crash during an afternoon and take a nap, and on Saturdays I’d go back to sleep after finishing my paper route and sleep until noon. In my youth ministry years, I thrived on all-nighters and retreats where I would barely sleep. I seemed to need very little sleep to maintain my high-energy life.
But, this side of 40, and trying to pay more attention to my body & soul, I’m starting to recognize how tiredness affects me, affects how I think and how I relate to other people. So, here’s a brief description of the life this pastor lived during Holy Week:
- Wednesday: I led worship at our weekly Lenten prayer service.
- Thursday: I did a 15 minute teaching at our Foot Washing Service, then led worship again
- Good Friday Service and Christmas Eve are our most creative services of the year. I can’t begin to tell you how much energy I pour into these services.
- Saturday morning: Tear down all the decorations in the sanctuary, re-decorate for Sunday.
- Saturday afternoon: Complete Easter Message
- Sunday morning: 2 services, lots of people, brunch.
So, for me, here are the symptoms of tired: I cry easily. A friend prayed with me after the Good Friday Service and I had a small breakdown. I start to avoid the people in my life who see through me. You know these people. They’re the kind of people who when I see kindness and concern for me in their eyes, I cry. So, when tired, I avoid them. I get super critical. I only heard the wrong notes I hit while leading worship, it was hard to see past the small technical glitches Friday night, or the things I wished I would have said better on Sunday morning. I can’t find satisfaction in things I should be finding satisfaction in. I eat senselessly. I find myself powerless overt the small jar of miniature Cadbury eggs that was sitting on the counter all weekend. And finally, I shut down, and don’t do the things that actually restore my soul like exercise, be with the people who love me, etc. I choose instead mindless television watching and stupid games on my iPad.
So, after the 2nd service on Sunday I chose to rest. I went home, took an hour nap, went on a geocaching hike with my wife, kids & parents. Had a simple, but delicious dinner of grilled rack of lamb, asparagus and buttery herbed potatoes. I went to sleep by 11 and didn’t get out of bed Monday morning until after 9. The church office was closed Monday, so I spent the day binge-watching Breaking Bad, did some woodworking (really not work. I enjoy it!). I read a little, went to Kickapoo and pitched to the boys for awhile, avoided my email and Facebook. I could have taken another nap – I was tired enough – but I feared I wouldn’t be able to sleep Monday night, if I did. In short, I really rested. And today, I’m still a little tired, but I’m much, much better than I was two days ago at this time.
Anyway here’s what I’m learning about resting:
- Jennifer gave me the gift of no expectations on Monday. Ahhhhhh. So good. There was no pressure to get to “the list.” And even though I chose to hang some trim in the afternoon, I did it because doing things with my hands is important to me, not because I felt pressured.
- This sounds strange, but I have to give myself permission to rest. That’s really hard for me. I had to tell myself over and over again that my job on Monday was to rest.
- In order for me to rest, I have to stay off my phone. No emails, no Facebook, nothing. My brain needs very little stimulus to go into work mode.
- Usually, I exercise. However, because I’m running a marathon on Saturday, I’m very strictly following my regimen this week, to make sure my legs are well-rested on Saturday morning at 7am. Anyway, I wasn’t scheduled to run yesterday, so I didn’t.
I’m sure there are many more things for this high-functioning, energetic extrovert to learn, but at least I’m starting to learn something…