I know the title of this post may confuse a few of you, but let me explain. I’ve recently begun attending church at EastLake Tri-Cities (you can read more about that in my last post), and have signed up for a small group titled “Breathing Room.”
Our first meeting was last Tuesday, and one quote from that evening has stuck with me through the whole week:
“Creating breathing room is about refusing to give up PEACE for the sake of PROGRESS.” – Andy Stanley
This simple phrase resonated with me on an incredibly deep level. My question for all of you is this: When was the last time you took time out of your busy schedule to create breathing room for yourself? I don’t just mean a few minutes here and there throughout the day. I mean when was the last time you were gracious with yourself and intentional about giving yourself time to decompress, to relax, and to NOT feel guilty about it.
I can tell you from experience that this concept is easier said than done. If you know me, you know that I am the definition of a perfectionist. And I have the constant anxiety and stress to prove it. It has taken me years to realize that I am worth my time. That I am worth forgiveness and grace.
And yet, it is still difficult for me to give myself the breathing room that I need. It is so easy for us to get wrapped up in our day-to-day lives with careers, families, and responsibilities and to push off our own needs and self-care for the sake of progress.
I am here to tell you that it isn’t worth it. It’s not worth killing yourself at work for 60 hours a week if it ends with you unhappy, unhealthy, and miserable. It is okay to set boundaries, and to stick to them.
Myself, of all people, know how difficult it is to say no. Being afraid of missing out, disappointing others, or to be alone with yourself is part of the journey. Why is it that in our society we prioritize progress over everything else?
This is not to say that progress isn’t valuable, needed, or influential. Progress is integral to human survival. However, we often get so entangled in a warped view of what “progress” is, that we forget that it is okay to prioritize peace over perceived progress.
In my own life, I have had to wrestle with this. There have been days, weeks, months, and years in my life where I was so consumed with “making progress” that I worked myself to exhaustion, pushed relationships to the point of nearly falling apart, and couldn’t bring myself to step back long enough to realize that the “progress” I thought I was making was actually setting me 10 steps back.
I could go on forever about this, but I will leave you with a few final thoughts:
- Give yourself some breathing room. Take a walk, read a book, have a glass of wine. Whatever makes you take a few steps back and breathe – I urge you to do it.
- Forgive yourself. For whatever you need to. You are worth forgiving.
- Strive for peace, even if it means less progress. Do not risk your health, sanity, or relationships on the perception of progress.
P.S. If you have a chance and want to learn more about my small group, check out “Breathing Room”, a 28-day devotional for women by Sandra Stanley.