I don’t know about you, but most of the time people irritate me.
I mean, I love everyone, but most of the time I just want to be left alone. I dread hearing my phone ring and then having to make the decision of whether or not I should answer. I am slightly irked when visitors show up unannounced. I often get annoyed that others seem to require so much of my time.
See, most of my life I have been called mean, anti-social, stuck up, and a plethora of other words, but the reality is that I’m just an introvert. I get overwhelmed and exhausted when I spend too much time with other people. I have an extreme case of introvertism (I made that word up).
To make matters even worse, my job involves talking to people who need my assistance most of the day. I absolutely love my job, but it never fails to drain my energy. By the end of my work day, I wouldn’t be upset if I didn’t say another word for the rest of the day. My phone is most likely not going to be answered, and the only people I plan to talk to are my husband and children.
But, to be transparent, coming home to the family who depends on me is also a struggle for an introvert.
Time Alone is Healthy
I used to feel extremely guilty for needing time away from my children. I would see parents who take their kids everywhere with them, the ones who are always doing arts and crafts, or the parents who seem to be so patient – I started to think that there was something wrong with me. I felt like a horrible mother.
I would see the couples who can’t seem to get enough of each other, those who wanted to spend every waking moment with their spouse and it would make me question my relationship with my husband. I knew what was wrong, but I didn’t know how to fix it without being seen as a selfish person.
But, since I want my life to be a reflection of Jesus, I decided to take a look at His life and how he handled having so many people depend on Him.
Even Jesus Needed Time Alone
The Gospels illustrate how Jesus made quiet time a priority. In Luke 5:15-16, Jesus’ ministry is growing and “crowds of people came to hear Him and be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (NIV).
Even though people needed Him, Jesus made sure that He did not only focus on the crowds, but He made time to take care of Himself spiritually and emotionally by getting away from the people who drained Him. It may sound presumptuous of me to say that the crowds drained Him because He is Jesus, but in Mark 5:30 (ESV) when the woman with the issue of blood touched Him to be healed “Jesus perceiv[ed] in himself that power had gone out from Him”. So, after spending all day healing and ministering to people, He needed to recharge.
Another example is found in Luke 6:12-13 (NIV), “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called His disciples to Him and chose twelve of them whom He also designated apostles”. Jesus knew that He had a big decision to make in choosing the apostles, so He needed time to Himself to pray and listen to God.
Jesus also made sure His disciples knew the value in resting. Mark 6:31-32 (NIV) says, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest. So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place”.
So, What’s the Play Call?
If Jesus took time to rejuvenate and reenergize, we need to make self-care a priority as well. I’d like to share five strategies that I use on a daily basis to reduce my feelings of being overwhelmed, irritated, and frustrated. You, too, may find yourself more cheerful at work and at home and feel much more relaxed.
- Wake up at least 15-20 minutes earlier than the rest of your house. I use this time to read the Bible and pray before I even get out of the bed. I just use the Bible app on my phone. But, if you are feeling extra energetic, wake up 30-45 minutes earlier, start some coffee or tea, pull out your Bible and journal, and take that time to read and write out what God is saying to you.
- Listen to a podcast on your commute to and from work. I love to listen to sermons by Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church and Pastor Michael Todd from Transformation Church. I also love the Woman Evolve podcast by Sarah Jakes Roberts. I also ride in complete silence sometimes and I listen to worship music. The main thing is to maximize this time as a moment where you can do something that you enjoy without distractions.
- During my day at work, I ensure that I build in short breaks so that I can take a breather.
- I always take a lunch and eat in peace. Even though my lunch break is really short, this is the only meal that I can eat without my children asking me for something or arguing with each other, so my lunch break is of the utmost importance to me.
- Once the children and I get home for the day, I make sure they are situated and then give myself up to 30-minutes of time to myself to just unwind from my day before I jump into dinner, homework, and the one million questions from my children that are bound to happen :).