Do you love to serve?
Do you look for opportunities to help others?
Do you seek to help your spouse, and submit to your role as a Keeper of the Home, all for God's glory?
Wonderful! Praise God that He has given us such desires to serve Him!
But do you ever have seasons where you don't have as much to give?
Do you ever feel like your works aren't adequate?
Do you ever wish for a day off, but feel guilty as you try to do nothing?
Do you ever feel worn and exhausted, but you're afraid that stepping out of roles will be letting too many down?
May I just say, you are by no means alone.
As women growing up in a church, many of us feel a great desire to embrace the role of 'helper'. We have certain responsibilities in that role, and many women seek to embody the servant's heart and feel that serving is one of the greatest gifts they can give God on this Earth. Many women are naturally endowed with skills and enjoyment of, what I like to call, the "domestic arts"; cooking, baking, cleaning, organizing, hosting, planning, knitting, sewing, scrapbooking... many women are naturally drawn to these areas. These hobbies can be well utilized to serve others, and many a housewife has made a reputation for herself by always having ample food and space for everyone, and making everyone feel at home.
But perhaps the harder part, for many women seeking to live for God, is how to serve God when we aren't physically partaking in 'service'.
Many of those housewives with the great reputation become convinced that their worth lies in their service. These women have demonstrated a servant's heart for decades - cooking for sick neighbours, watching over children, being on every committee and at every prayer meeting. But what happens when they need a break? Are they allowed to? Does rest have its place in the life of a servant-hearted woman? What if you can't be on a committee for a season? Does it mean you're letting people down?
The reality is, people need to rest. Different seasons bring different struggles, and some seasons seem to bring as many struggles as they can fit in. God desires us to serve Him out of love, but He also desires us to rest in Him. We should want to serve in our church and in our cities as an act of love to God, but it's not beneficial to God's kingdom if we literally work ourselves to death. It is honestly okay to say that you can't serve in some capacity because you have other priorities (health, your marriage, your family). You aren't letting anyone down by taking care of your own well-being. You're not letting anyone down when you say that you're going to take a sabbatical for a season to focus on your relationship with your spouse. These seasons of rest will strengthen you for future service, and ensure that your relationships are strong, as God intended them to be.
So take a break when you need one, but do it to God's glory.
What the Bible tells us about rest is essentially this: everything in moderation. God set the example for us by resting on the Seventh day of Creation (Gen. 2). Christ is shown reclining at the table (Matthew 26:7) and enjoying the company of his friends. The Sabbath, which is a day of rest and observation of God's grace and blessings, was established as one of the 10 Commandments. Sitting back and admiring God's works, fellowshiping with friends and resting in God's promises are all examples of resting to God's glory.
But the Bible also cautions against eating the bread of idleness. It draws a direct line between idleness and gossip (2 Thess. 3:11), says that those who do no work should not get to eat (2 Thess. 3:10) and says that laziness leads to poverty (Proverbs 10:4).
So how does it look to take a break to God's glory? Well, first off, consider how many 'breaks' you allot to yourself. If you notice a trend of more breaks than service, perhaps your desire for rest is rooted in idleness?
Sometimes all you need is a day on the couch where you do nothing but watch TV and recover from everything that's been going on, perhaps while you even recover your health. Don't let your break from serving be a break from fellowship with God. You can still fellowship with God while you watch TV, but guard your heart and mind against the filth of the world. Don't consider your downtime as an allowance to indulge in guilty pleasures; if you watch reality TV and find yourself judging the characters, find a new show. If you criticize people for their fashion choices or looks while watching entertainment news, perhaps that channel isn't for you. And if you sit comfortably watching shows that encourage promiscuity, and even cheer for a couple to 'hook up' on your favorite sitcom, you are probably a little too comfortable. Watch shows that are edifying, not vulgar and promoting sinful lifestyles. Granted, such shows might be harder to find than otherwise; when in doubt, check out The Food Network.
Check your attitude while you take your break. Are you constantly angry with your kids for disrupting you? Are you focusing on everything your husband isn't doing for you, instead of everything that he is doing? Is it the whole world's fault that someone cut you off while you were driving to Starbucks? Don't sin in your anger, remind yourself that while you have a break, things change for everyone and it might be a hard change for kiddos to adjust to, and remember that your husband can't actually read your mind (or sometimes your tone of voice, or your short answers, or your body language...) If you need something, ask him for it. And then be sincerely appreciative of his help and thank God that you have such a wonderful husband.
Use your break to refresh your weary soul. Sometimes we can get so caught up in service, that it can seem as though we've forgotten why we started serving in the first place. Here's the short answer: It's all for Him. If life's gotten away from you, you feel legalistic in your service and you need to take a break to refocus, make sure you set your sights on where you truly need to be focused. Don't follow the worldly example which tells us we need to focus on ourselves, but instead, set your sights on Him. As you recover from your weariness, if you have already determined your end goal as being a closer relationship with Him, it will help determine the road you need to take to get there. But remember, takinng care of yourself is still glorifying to God.
If we love God, we should desire to serve Him, in our churches, our communities and in our every day lives, but we need to remember that our works by no means dictate our value, or the depth of God's love for us. If you need a break, go on and take it, all to the glory of God!