What would you say zaps your strength? The kids? Your job? The soccer schedule? The unending housework?
If you’re talking to other tired moms, chances are you’ll hear them point to external circumstances as the primary reason they’re exhausted. But the truth is, there are a lot of internal conditions that exhaust us. These can be more difficult to identify, but the good news is that we have some measure of control over them. In other words, we might not be able to change the soccer schedule, but we can change our attitude about driving our kids to practice every night. If we can identify these soul-level energy zappers, we will be able to start rooting them out.
So what are the things that zap our strength?
When we harbor unconfessed sin, we create a distance between God and us. Psalm 32:3-4 says, “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer” (NIV). But when we feel that God is near, we can stand taller and are more capable than we are on our own.
There are two types of negativity that will drain your energy: negativity in your own thoughts and negativity from people around you. The only way to get rid of internal negativity is to surrender your thought life to the Lord on a day-to-day basis. When it comes to other people, we may not even realize what a big effect they can have on us. Have you ever noticed that certain people immediately bring a smile to your face, while others make your shoulders droop? Which women in your life fuel you and give you perspective? Start recognizing the patterns and make it your goal to become more like those women.
An Unclear Destination
Making dinner, rocking a baby, picking up toys, and helping with homework day in and day out can feel draining and maybe even a little pointless. But when we recognize God’s purpose for our lives, whether it’s a specific goal or our purpose in general as followers of Christ, we start to see these activities as worthy endeavors. Making dinner isn’t just a chore; it’s a way to nourish our family. Rocking a baby is a way to bring comfort and love. Picking up toys is a way to clear the clutter and create white space in our lives. Helping with schoolwork is a way to instill discipline and responsibility in our kids. When we feel motivated about life, we are propelled forward in a way that can’t be thwarted by external exhaustion.
Dissension with Others
When something is gnawing at us relationally, it will impact our energy levels. If there is tension, especially in a significant relationship, we can’t compartmentalize it; it will eventually seep into our ability to be fully present in our daily reality. When we live at peace with others, however, we will inevitably have more energy to devote to the things and people in need of our attention.
Having a Messiah Complex
Are you simply taking on more than God has called you to do? Are you trying to lead where God is asking you to follow? Are you saying yes to all the good things instead of just the best things? It’s time for us to stop doing what God never asked us to do and ask him what his priorities are for the day ahead.
Allowing Our Virtual World to Take a Disproportionate Role
We can invest so much in people we don’t know in real life that we don’t have energy left for the people around us. I’m not saying we should give up on social media altogether, but we need to keep this in check to make sure it’s not replacing or diminishing our relationships with in-the-flesh family and friends.
I’m pretty sure all of us want to be free from things that steal our strength. But what habits can we be practice to bring more energy to our days, even when our circumstances threaten to drain us?
Isaiah 40:31 says, “Those who trust in the LORD will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Spending time in prayer reminds us that God is at work. In the same way that running a race next to someone pushes us forward, God pushes us forward when we’re aware of his presence with us.
Thankfulness changes us. When we’re feeling the weight of life, it lifts our spirits and brings energy to our weary bones to recognize our blessings. So set out to find what’s good in your day, knowing that the effort won’t be wasted. This is a simple practice, but it will energize you.
When we sin, we’re often tempted to respond in one of two ways: either we try to ignore the sin and stuff it down, or we wallow in it, unable to move forward. Confession is the antidote to both of these extremes, as it allows us to deal with our actions head-on and then receive God’s grace.
Silence and Solitude
This one might sound easy, but it’s perhaps the hardest one of all for me: stop talking and rest. Exodus 14:14 says, “The Lord will fight for you. And you have only to be silent” (ESV). When you make space to be quiet with the Lord, you’ll experience the kind of soul-level energy that can’t be imitated by any amount of sleep.
Life-giving words can provide quick energy to both the speaker and the hearer. If you are in need of a pep talk, go to that friend who always cheers you on and find energy in a soul-lifting conversation. And if someone in your life needs a little encouragement, you may be surprised to find that lifting them up gives you a boost too.
A Teachable Spirit
Psalm 139:23-24 says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Having a teachable spirit means knowing we’re not perfect and therefore we don’t need to defend ourselves as such. When we are teachable and willing to learn, our loads become light.
Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all!” God calls us to live at peace with one another. Not only is this a reflection of his character, but it also gives us energy to devote to the true battles.
The energy God gives us is for today, so let’s use it fully. Let’s live boldly for the Lord, not hoarding strength as if God won’t provide for the next day. We can trust that if God is leading us, he will also provide what we need.
Adapted from Grumpy Mom Takes a Holiday: Say Goodbye to Stressed, Tired, and Anxious, and Say Hello to Renewed Joy in Motherhood by Valerie Woerner, releasing in April, 2019 from Tyndale House Publishers.