Helping professionals and social activists are among the many, many kinds of people who really need to pay attention to the space available in their lives for recovery and restoration.
I’m completing my second year in a congregational position where I’ve learned a great deal about community life and what works well for people who serve. Working behind the curtain means seeing much more than I did in my years as a very active lay church member. Those who pour themselves out in service to others must have space and time to gather themselves, and that can’t be optional or there’ll be unnecessary suffering.
I woke up one morning this summer with the phrase “Don’t sleep where you cook” rattling around my head.
Don’t sleep where you cook.
Give the stove room to breathe, and give yourself the luxury of a bed distinct from the pots and pans. Differentiate between where you prepare nourishment for or with others and where you rest from service with and for them.
It can be especially easy for leaders in faith communities, human services, and non-profit organizations to devote so much energy and attention to worthy causes that reasonable boundaries fail and their activity and rest zones blur. In the name of commitment and dedication, a lot of leaders end up designing their lives more like a studio apartment than a multi-room home.
There are privileges in having paid time off to take or community resources to support our hitting full-stop on the cycle of production: parents and other caretakers know that vacations can involve their own category of work. It’s also a privilege to have new contexts to go to, to relax in, to learn from, and to train in.
But even a studio breaks up its spaces. And while we’re in our home routines, not off-grid, we can practice gentle ways to ensure that we do wholly rest so we can do our best when we return.
Learn from my friend Hugh; help him rest if you can.