I have read that when the body has endured trauma, it automatically shuts down organ systems that are unnecessary to survival to conserve energy for the ones that are. Because of the way the Creator formed us – the body instinctively knows that it can’t do it all when it isn’t in optimal condition, so it streamlines – cutting the excess and focusing on the essential until it knows it will survive and can heal.
In small measure, this is the lesson the Lord has taught me the past couple of months. Despite our challenging circumstances, for many months I still tried to do it all. And I was unsuccessful. I became exhausted and depressed. I kept expecting our circumstances to get better overnight and so I was just trying to hold it all together until that happened. But as the months turned into a year, holding it all together became an impossible task.
During this time, the Lord began to teach me that where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. Freedom to say no. Freedom to get help. Freedom to shut down the things in our life that caused unnecessary stress so that we could function better for our kids, for each other, and for the things that Jesus said were truly necessary. Freedom to fail. Freedom to fall apart for a while and then allow the Lord to put me back together while my husband guarded over our family.
It was a tough time – but highly necessary. The Lord was teaching me the lesson of how He created our body. He was teaching me to streamline.
So one day, not so long ago, I let go of trying. I fell apart. I went to a doctor and got some help for depression and for the ulcers that have made me sick for the past 18 months. I turned down a few events and work opportunities that were causing me stress. I made some decisions to streamline our finances. I even streamlined my Facebook friends and Twitter connections, eliminating people or causes that were sources of anxiety.
I wrote down what was vital: Justin, my girls, loving the Lord my God with all my heart, feeding the hungry and caring for the orphan and widow, my friends and family who love us, the work relationships that enhance our lives.
Six things. That’s it.
And everything else I shut down.
I battled with guilt (especially over walking away from relationships), but the Lord confirmed my decision with His Word. My Baptist upbringing conditioned me to see everyone, even the difficult, as a mission field. So to walk away seemed like choosing my good over their eternal destiny. But in this season time and time again the Lord confirmed this idea with His Word. Even Jesus took time to walk away and commune with His father or with the 12 who He loved when facing difficult challenges. So I asked the Lord to take care of those who I couldn’t – and I walked away.
I am living a streamlined life – hiding in the shadow of my Father’s (and my husband’s) entirely capable wing until I can recover. And frankly, I like this so much, I may hang out under here for far longer than is necessary.
Because the streamlined life is the passionate life. This streamlining has brought me a new boldness for the things that do matter. I now have energy to fight for my six things that are truly important. I believe, for the first time in a while, that the Lord will use me to accomplish the work He has given me to do.
Streamlining. I’m grateful for it. I hope some of you will join me in it. I truly believe it has saved my life.
What a great thing, Jen. I’m so encouraged. Like you, I KNOW this streamlining is so good and right and full of freedom, but I so often forget and accidentally add things back that I’m not ready for yet. This is a good reminder for me personally to reevaluate whether I’m still living the “cut back” life or if I need some more trimming. My mom was just talking to me about this the other day, sharing what she’s been learning from the John passage on pruning, and saying in her wise mom voice, “Remember, Hannah, God doesn’t just cut off bad branches; he’ll cut off good ones too if that’s what we need.” And now you’re saying the same thing. Probably time for me to pay attention to the lessons God’s putting in front of me. 🙂
Jen, you’re in my prayers! Tha— wait, no, THANK you! – for sharing about your streamlining (hey, I grew up Baptist, too, and you’re totally right about the guilt-thing; thankfully, we know that there is ONE main Relationship from which we cannot “streamline”, ever – even were we to try!) and your dealing with changes in life/circumstances.
Funny that Hannahestes’ mom was just sharing w/Hanna the identical thing that a friend and I were talking about yesterday/Sat. morning after reading aloud from John 15: That God snips off the good *and* the bad — though He trims off the good in order to grow ***even*** more fruit in our lives… This is so “not easy” to experience, when it feels as if one’s right arm, or left foot, have just been cut off. Permanently.
But…*HE* is the Gardener, and *He’s* the One Who gets to decide what needs trimming. (I can’t recall a single time – not even one! – when He asked my opinion before trimming my life back!)
prayers & encouragements your way, even now, Jen! – gracie
p.s. You’ll laugh at this, no doubt, but I keep a simple pair of garden clippers handy in my garage so that when I pull in the driveway, should I see *dying* roses/old leaves/stems, I pop right over and do a “quick trim”. 😉 Am thinking now that God sometimes does “quick trims” w/us, too — not always “monster-cuts” (whew! thank goodness for THAT!).