It was Friday, the day that Purolator delivers mail at work. I was finishing up for the week when a co-worker, Mary Anne, popped her head around the door to hand me two large brown envelopes containing the weekly mail, and then a minute later came back with a small white envelope, saying, "Next time I should make sure I have it all."
I looked at the white envelope with my name handwritten on the front. It was unmistakeably my own handwriting. I stared at it for a minute with a very strange feeling of being in the "Twilight Zone." As I opened it, my mind went back four weeks to a presentation on Soul Care given to our team of managers by our manager of pastoral services, Mark.
It seemed so long ago. Vaguely I remembered Mark asking us to fill in the blanks on a form letter written to ourselves, personalized with our own diagnosis of our pressure points, and a prescription. We sealed them in self addressed envelopes that we handed back to him. He told us that four weeks later he would send them back to us as.
This is what my letter said (the words in italics are mine:)
I think that it is excellent that you have expressed a desire to see people compassionately and respond to them as Christ leads you...I feel I should tell you that after observing you over the last while, I think the factors that most affect your ability to be compassionate are: Being pressured by too much to do.
I therefore would like to recommend that you take the following actions to guard against burnout:
Get sufficient rest and care for your body through healthy eating and sleep.
In following through on this plan I believe that you will be more prepared to deal with both routine and unexpected circumstances compassionately, that you will be less self-centered and a better minister of Christ’s behalf to the people He has called you to serve, both in the workplace and in everyday interactions.
May God use you to further His Kingdom,
Since then I have been working on solidifying three foundational practices in my life:
* A daily Sacred Hour
* A Sabbath day
* Getting adequate sleep
In the past two weeks I have treasured and guarded my daily Sacred Hour; breaking old patterns deliberately in order to build new ones. I have literally celebrated Sabbath and I have had 7 hours of sleep most nights. I am establishing new habits, but this is still work--not a natural or easy thing. My aim for this week is to work on the time I go to bed. Ann Voskamp wrote at Holy Experience, on How to get the Important Stuff in a day and said that getting up early starts at night. I know that I need to go to bed at 10.00 but this is still hard. This is my quest for the coming week so that the rhythm becomes more natural.
New wine; it needs new wine skins.
Matthew 7:13-14 (New International Version)
13"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.