Not All Who Wander Are Lost

It has been a reflective couple of weeks for me. I don’t know about you, but that seems to happen to me periodically. I go along for quite awhile full steam ahead. I take care of business as the expression goes. I have my lists and goals well in hand. I guide those around me, and am walking in lockstep with God (or at least meandering in His path trying to discern His footsteps).

Then I hit a point where thoughtful consideration and reflection are in order. My mind and heart try to determine what directions to take. I try to evaluate my priorities and make sure that I am being my own authentic self. In my teaching/tutoring, I self-evaluate and streamline my methods to try to help my students with more clarity. I guess perhaps I could even call it my own little performance review. I don’t mean that in an egotistical way. Rather, I try to see what areas I could do more joyfully and more efficiently.

It is my belief that our minds and hearts truly need to meander a bit every now and then. This indulgence in some self-reassurance gives us strength. It reconnects us and reminds us that we are not perpetual motion machines. We were not designed by God to be endless taskmasters.

As a matter of fact, getting off that beaten path can give you breathtaking moments. Do you remember when you were a child? Remember those summer days when you maybe had some time and you could lie on your back and look at the sky and pick pictures out of the clouds in the sky? I have always felt that it is essential to have some time each week to pause. Longfellow called it the “pause in the day’s occupations”. Don’t you just love that expression?

When my son was a toddler I could tell when we had over-scheduled for too many days. You could see the stress on his face and sense it in his being. He was a trouper and would keep up with my full speed ahead pace through the week, but eventually it would take a toll. When I noticed that, we would have a day or two of just being homebodies. We would read books, we would maybe draw or cook, but as leisurely relaxation. He could take the time to quietly build with his Lego blocks and have some quiet music on in the background. We would play in the yard. We would play or relax without a goal or agenda. Those mental health days made all the difference in the world. Of course it is still easy for me to notice the need for those days in my son and in my husband. There are days or times when I say “today we are ignoring the ‘to-do list’ and just relaxing”.

I am finally beginning to realize that I need those days, too. I am such a care-taker type that I at times neglect to tend to my own needs. Let’s just say that I now know I must have  meandering time, too. Sitting down to blog is a wonderful way for me to tend to my heart. I have said before that some days I need to write in order to figure out what I am thinking. I have finally set aside time in my weekly schedule for relaxation and re-grouping. Does it make me more productive the rest of the time? Shhh I have to tell myself when I ask that question. Instead I have to consider this: Jesus took time away from the crowds and His preaching. Sometimes He would walk off into the mountains alone. Other times He would have dinner with friends. Still other times, He and His apostles would sail off in one of their boats. He knew to the core of His being that these times were essential. He also was modeling a certain mindset and behavior for us to follow, wasn’t He?

Those almost indescribable moments of peace from times that I spent meandering (either literally or metaphorically) can be stored in my Heart. I draw upon them. I do not know that I am any more productive when I add reflective time to my days and weeks. For all I know, I am slowing down and am less efficient. But that can no longer be my only focus or purpose. You see, in order to truly love, and in order to rise up each day with dedication, I must take time to hear Him. I cannot hear Him when I am continually running through my lists and tasks. Even beyond that, I cannot even appreciate myself or others unless I wander a bit.

What a shame it is when I reach the end of a week and all I can remember is the tasks I have or have not accomplished. Tasks and work are good. Duties are essential and give me structure. But I also hope to hold in my heart the joyful memories, the heartfelt thoughts and prayers of the day or week. So as I wander a bit I shall enjoy the view. Perhaps I, like a little flower girl, can scatter petals of joyous reflection on my aisle of life. This willingness on my part to (mentally at least) wander a bit does accomplish this: it keeps me from the syndrome of becoming a rat in a maze!

If that sounds bitter or cynical, I don’t mean it that way at all. Rather, I mean that it gets me out of that endless loop of “okay, today is x, that means I do tasks a,b,c”. I also don’t mean that I neglect the tasks entirely. But I DO mean that I build in little gates to go in and out of the maze. Those little gates keep me from the stressful feeling of endless looping. Granted, some weeks (like this one) are REALLY busy. But even so, I can take time to reflect and rejoice. Do you want to hear a simple little thing I do that helps me reflect and relax? Washing a sink full of dishes. Just having my hands in the soapy water, and looking out my kitchen window while I wash dishes, calms my heart. Maybe that goes back to when I was a tiny girl and I was allowed to stand on a chair at the sink and wash dishes for mom.

We need moments that restore us. Many times that means carving out moments that either take our breath away or remind us to breathe deeply. May you have those moments today. You are so worth it. You are so needed in this world. May your heart skip stones across the lake today. May your sunrise and sunset build moments in your heart. Know that you are making a difference, and that the Shepherd will give you rest in His pastures. His pastures are everywhere. Pull up a soft spot on His lawn and relax today.

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
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22 Responses to Not All Who Wander Are Lost

  1. You describe a side of most people with understanding and insight to what makes us tick…and we must give ourselves permission once in awhile to just take a break, get away from it all then return refreshed. Sometimes God has a way of saying to us, “I worked six days-then took a break, why do you think you can do more than me?”
    God bless you I look forward to your writing.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Thanks so much for your wonderful feedback. You are right of course! And when we procrastinate our own resting and self-restoration, God sure does find ways to let us know!!

  2. We take better care of others when we also look after ourselves…it took me decades to fully understand this!

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Me too—isn’t it funny that we automatically played or relaxed when we were children but assumed that we didn’t need to do that when we grew up? Silly us. We can recognize the need for it in the younger generation but don’t always realize we forget to do it at times! So true, Karen

  3. Dear Kate,
    Jesus said to His disciples that they should come away by themselves for a while and rest because they’d not had time even to eat. I’ve been there!
    So glad you posted this today! I used to be so list-driven, we never would have rested like you describe, had I not written “bowling” or “Park Day” on my to-do list. We took every Sunday off, too. We usually had so much to do with gardening, mowing, cleaning a huge house, etc., but several of us would literally sort of go on strike on Sundays. It was handy, since lots of the world slows or stops on that day.

  4. Susan Michaels says:

    Amen to being free in Him to run footloose in some of those great green pastures, and along quiet paths! I love the divine balance God works into our lives! Blessings, Kate!

  5. Gilly Gee says:

    If we only care for others and not ourselves we eventually run out of what it takes.

  6. reneeboomer says:

    OH Kate. I love this post! I love so many of your posts. YOU are amazing! Thank you for all that you share. I truly believe it is so important to take care of ourselves. I don’t do it enough, seem to worry about everybody else. It is something I do try to work on. 🙂

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Renee–you are so very very encouraging. Glad to know I am not the only one working on this :-). Take care of you. That is how the folks around us will learn to do that for themselves, by seeing us model it. Maybe if we cast self-care as a way to take care of others we will remember to do it!

  7. Beautiful post Kate! Thank for sharing!

  8. Caddo Veil says:

    I’m tired today–think I’ll camp on the couch with a bowl of fresh cut pineapple chunks. God bless you, Sis Kate.–love, sis Caddo

    • Kate Kresse says:

      oh yummy! My mom is fond of telling me about when she and dad were on their honeymoon in Hawaii. It was before Hawaii was a state. She and dad toured the Dole pineapple canning factory. The drinking fountains had pineapple juice instead of water. Can you imagine that?? Oh she was in heaven—-she LOVES pineapple and pineapple juice.

  9. dogear6 says:

    I use the Tolkien quote on my business cards – love it! Yes, downtime is very underrated in our society and so very needed.

  10. ferragudofan says:

    Love love love this post – thank you so much!
    love the line “May your heart skip stones across the lake today”
    Be still and know that I am God – thanks for reminding me!

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