Up Front and Personal

Sometimes God Tells You to Slow Down

By Bill Dodds

Sometimes I sense that God is telling me to rest awhile. And I strongly suspect that sometimes that’s what He’s telling you.

I’ve come to realize what I need to pay attention to, what I need to remind myself of, is Christ telling the apostles to “come away … and rest awhile” (Mk 6:31). I can’t set down all the “crosses” I carry each day, but I can cut myself some slack.

It might seem a little harsh to refer to raising children, caring for an aging loved one or even volunteering at a school or parish as a “cross.” But, certainly, there are aspects of doing any one of those things that calls for you to “deny yourself” and shoulder on. But resting also is necessary to keep going forward.

So, how can you come away and rest awhile? Or maybe better put, “get away and rest awhile”?

You’re probably familiar with the idea that there are sins of “commission” and sins of “omission.” In the words of the Confiteor: what you have done and what you have failed to do. In a similar way, you can get away by doing something or by not doing something.

How can you get away by doing something? A week at the beach might be lovely, but your kids might notice you weren’t around the house. On the other hand, it might be possible to see if you can squeeze in a short afternoon nap, or a walk around the block, or 30 minutes of a television show, or just 10 pages of reading that book you’ve been trying to complete since you went to the hospital for the birth of your first child.

You can also “get away” by not doing something, by excusing yourself from an activity. Don’t consider yourself a failure if you’re not the perfect parent, the perfect caregiver or the perfect volunteer. You can let that go. You’re not the perfect anything and you never will be and that’s OK.

Then, too, not doing something can mean saying “no.”

You can say, “No, darling child, you can’t be on the basketball team and then go right into softball. Choose one or the other.”

You can say, “I can’t personally provide all the help you need at this point. We’re going to have to bring in outside help.”

You can say, “No, parish director of religious education, I’m not going to be the fifth-grade teacher again this year. You’ll have to find someone else.”

The simple truth is that saying “no” can be a very positive thing to say, especially if the Holy Spirit has been nudging you to slow down. Don’t be so overwhelmingly concerned about others that you have disregard for yourself.

Loving your neighbor as yourself includes loving yourself.

Bill Dodds writes a syndicated column for Catholic News Service. It appears frequently in The Tablet.

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