This past Sunday, as soon as we were finished with church, my wife and I left town. Sunday marked our 6th anniversary, and we hadn’t really been away together since our second year of marriage. Life, has a way of taking over. With a never-ending, one-two-punch of stressful life events, we knew that we needed to get away if only for short period.
So, we split for a few days.
One of the great parts about living in New England, is that if you want to get away someplace peaceful, quiet, and with beautiful scenery, your options are endless. So, we headed off to the quaint village of Jackson, New Hampshire to take some R&R at one of our favorite places, the Snowflake Inn. We didn’t do much, but that was the point.
No rules for what needed to be done, but a few self-imposed rules for what wouldn’t be done. I took a break from blogging (other than sketching a few ideas out so that I wouldn’t forget them), only checked my e-mail briefly, skipping anything that wasn’t urgent, and just spent time relaxing. Tracy settled in with Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg, while I picked up Gandhi & Jesus: the Saving Power of Nonviolence, and we just let ourselves drift away from the world– if only for 48 hours.
Because sometimes, you just gotta get away from it all.
Over the past 48 hours, I’ve been reminded of two of the forgotten elements of Jesus’ teaching– elements I hope we’ll all work on recovering. First, I was reminded that Jesus actually commands us to love ourselves, and that Jesus by his own example, tells us that sometimes we just gotta get away.
That whole “Love your neighbor as yourself” bit? It seems we always talk about the “neighbor” (great) but we usually forget the part about “yourself”. True, we live in a selfish and greedy culture where many don’t need to be reminded of this– but many people do. I have to remind myself that if I am burnt out from giving, serving, doing, or anything else, I cease to be good or even adequate at my roles in the world. If I’m burnt out, I’m not a good husband, father, minister, writer, or anything else.
And, neither are you. If you spread yourself too thin, you’ll wear yourself out. Do that long enough, and life has a way of falling apart.
And so, Jesus reminds us that we actually need to love ourselves. We need to use wisdom and self care so that we don’t get worn out to the point of being socially useless.
Which, is why I needed to get away for a few days. I needed to love myself and recharge, even if it was just a really short break– something we even see Jesus himself do from time to time.
Repeatedly in the life of Jesus, we see that he took time to withdraw and be alone. Sometimes he went off into the wilderness, sometimes to a mountain, and sometimes the text just tells us that he wanted to be alone. When his cousin John the Baptist was executed, we are told:
“As soon as Jesus heard the news, he left in a boat to a remote area to be alone.” (Mt 14:13)
Now, the text doesn’t always tell us why Jesus took time to get away. Sometimes it tells us that he wanted to have time to pray, and other times, we’re left to wonder as to the motivation. Presumably however, Jesus– like us– just needed to get away and recharge so that he could continue giving and serving. We often forget that even the God-Man would have needed time to replenish himself.
My question for you becomes: if even Jesus needed to take some time away to replenish himself, why are you different?
Why do we have a tendency to work ourselves to death, and burn ourselves out, when even the Messiah shows us that sometimes we’ve just got to love ourselves and get away to replenish?
If you’re like me and have the bad habit of wearing yourself out, I hope you’ll reconsider that kind of lifestyle.
I hope you’ll look to the example of Jesus and remember that sometimes, we’ve got to love ourselves and just get away for a while.
That’s what I did these last 48 hours, and it was the right call.