Apparently, I’m a sandwich.
That’s what they call people like my husband and myself. We’re the sandwich generation; actively caring for aging parents and young children at the same time. We’re currently looking after six dependent people.
This past year we’ve helped my in-laws through a series of challenges: a major stroke, fear, worry, decisions, moving, selling their house, caregivers, financial issues, more worry, lost dreams, broken hip, downsizing, moving again, and a new diagnosis requiring more procedures.
Guess what? I’m tired
Like, really tired. My husband pointed out the obvious: I don’t get enough sleep. He’s right. I do stay up too late, either doing chores or enjoying the quiet house. I get up early because I’ve discovered it’s essential to be showered and dressed before my beloved children rise. Lack of sleep is an issue. But it’s more than that. I’m weary. Exhausted. How do I fix that? I don’t know.
Last Sunday we gathered up our four sons (ages 2-10) and headed to church. All I could think was: I’m tired.
The worship music was playing. People around me were standing and singing praises to our Lord. I sat. I really didn’t care. Bored. I silently asked God to change my heart and help me learn something.
The sermon was on Psalm 127. Verse 2 says, “In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat—for he grants sleep to those he loves.” (Or, “While they sleep, he provides for them.”) God provides for us in many ways. God made us, so he knows how our mind and body work.
We all need rest, that’s why he commanded it way back in the book of Exodus. You know, the Ten commandments? Commandment number 4 says that we are to remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. We’re supposed to work for six days and rest on the seventh.
Oh right, I knew this. The Pastor helped me realize that God made a plan for us to stop on a regular basis. Stop working. Rest, pray, worship, reflect, relax and enjoy our loved ones. It will probably take some creative planning for our family to put this into practice and start a new habit. Weekly rest. We need this.
Jesus also addressed this issue of being worn out. Do you know what’s so cool about Jesus? He did not give us a bunch of rules. He said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” He goes on to use an analogy of two oxen plowing a field. Farmers use a wooden bar called a yoke that is put around the two animal’s necks which connects them together as they work.
Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11 v28-30)
Jesus is inviting us to connect with him.
He will teach us as we go through life.
Actually, I knew that too… but I forgot. I took my eyes off God and only focused on the challenging circumstances around me. Looking to God for help and perspective changes everything. I realized that He is with me through it all.
That day God began to help me with my exhaustion. I had three appointments lined up after church. All of them unexpectedly canceled. Suddenly my afternoon was open. We no longer needed to rush home from church and were able to let the kids run around with their friends for a while. When we got home we put the twins down for a nap and I crawled into bed and took a nap too. Someone once said, “Sometimes the most Holy thing you can do is take a nap.”
I made some practical changes in our family’s schedule to get more help and plan ahead to alleviate some of the stress. I am writing in my journal again which helps me to organize my thoughts and write out my prayers. I have a game plan now to help me through this season. We still have six dependent people to look after and lots of decisions to make. It’s still a lot of work but I don’t feel weary anymore. And I don’t feel alone. Tired, yes. But it’s getting better as I remember to look to God for help.