I used to be really good at self care. I was stringent about it. I was particular. I was known in seminary as a "sabbath nazi". It was a term of endearment because I let no one steal away my precious sabbath time.
Even at my first appointment I was good. I practiced the 2/3 day rule (you divide the work day into thirds and only work 2 parts...typically a 12 hour day, you only work 8 hours...so if I had night meetings, I might work the morning, take the afternoon off, and then go back for night meetings. But I would rarely stay all day long and work the full 12 hours. I took sabbath regularly. I had space, down time, did creative things, hiked, went on vacation...all of those good self-care things. My SPRC (comprised of mostly women) loved me for it, affirmed me for it, and eagerly wanted those things for their lives too and would make strides to take sabbath themselves or to limit how much or how often they worked themselves.
And then came a senior pastorate. Now, I worked hard as an associate. I worked a lot of hours and did a lot of different things. When I left, they hired 3 separate people to do my job. I worked a lot. But the work was different. Some days I covet being an associate and wish I were again. There seemed to be more time and space for creativity, more time to help with conference committees, more time for covenant groups and fellowship, more time to read, more time to think.
Now, as a senior, I do lots of things...pretty much something of everything....from plunging toilets, to hospital visits, to preaching, to teaching, to washing cars, to answering phones. Now, don't be deceived, I have a very active congregation, but I also think I should lead by example and I'm not afraid to get dirty if a job has to be done. I'm not above answering phones or making copies. I'm not exempt from work projects or potluck dinners. I am also not exempt from staff issues, volunteer issues, money issues, trying to vision, trying to help others lead, etc, etc, etc. And somehow, in the midst of taking on a new church, a new position, and later a new partner (soon to be husband) life got REALLY, really full. And now, I pretty much stink at self care.
Sabbaths are rarely fully sabbath...even if I take a day, there are still calls to visit someone in the hospital, calls with silly questions, calls from the homeless, issues that pop up that seem to neeeeeeed to be taken care of now!
In my head, I know that there will always be more work, more issues and more demands. There will never be a day when they stop so I can take my day of sabbath. But at the same time the faster and harder and more intensely that train rolls the harder it is to actually slow down fast enough to jump off for a day.
That's where I am today. Struggling with my own failures to honor the sabbath--a practice I LOVE and NEED!
If you read the previous post you know I am trying to do more to take care of myself, and I am hoping to succeed. I really do not want to go back to the land of burn out. It was awful. It was painful. It was really hard to catch a ride out of that dark and dreary city. So, that means I have to be intentional. I have to be diligent, and I might have to get a little "sabbath nazi" on those who try and interfere with some good old fashioned sabbath rest...