By Jen Jabbour, Crosswalk.com
It’s Friday afternoon, the end of another long week, and all I want to do is get lost in my own thoughts and get a little bit of me-time. A woman’s life can be exhausting, and whether you work out of the home or are a stay-at-home mom, or something in between, the responsibilities can seem endless. Me time allows us to unwind, relax, and just let go of our burdens, even if it’s just for a few minutes.
I remember when my babies were little, and I couldn’t wait for their nap time. Once they were asleep, I could finally get some time to myself. Usually, this time was spent finishing up the housework, and if I was lucky enough to have extra time, I could sit down and read a book or do some scrapbooking. Either way, it was nice to have a few moments of uninterrupted time. In the early years of motherhood, I strictly adhered to this time as if it were a religion, and when my babies decided nap time wasn’t their thing, I won’t lie, I was a little bit devastated.
Today, things haven’t changed much, except my babies are now teenagers, and their needs are less physical and more emotional, which truly is more taxing than nursing and changing diapers. I’m more in need of me-time now than ever. However, my concept of me-time and its purpose has changed throughout the years.
Although I have always been a strong proponent of me-time, I have often asked the question, does God honor me-time? And in my pondering, I have discovered the answer is, it depends. Me time can be God-honoring, but on the flip side, it may be seen as a selfish practice. It’s easy to get caught up in the desire for more and more me-time.
Throughout the scriptures, we are encouraged to spend time with other like-minded people, to serve and love others, but all of this can be so exhausting. We just need a break - as busy mamas, sometimes all we want is to have a few moments to ourselves. Even Jesus went up to the mountains to be alone.
So how do we ensure our me time brings glory to God? Simply put, God honors me time when our me time honors Him.
The World Says Our Me-Time Should Be Self-Focused
The phrase “me time” in and of itself just sounds selfish and self-centered. Has society fooled women into believing the lie that they need me-time? By the world’s standards, me-time does not necessarily honor God. If we try to keep up with the world in how we spend our me-time, we may end up empty and broken.
Sadly, many women believe this cultural lie and fall into the enemy’s trap. I’ve personally witnessed women that have walked away from the life they had built - their marriage, their children, their friends, even God - and it all started with believing they just needed time away from their family. The more me-time they took, the more me-time they wanted, and soon they fell for the lie that they were meant for more than just shuttling kids to school and sports, cooking dinner, and doing laundry; that they were meant to follow their dreams, and they believed that they could build a new life if they just focused on themselves. Unfortunately, they hurt everyone around them in the wake of these selfish decisions by falling into the unhealthy trap of the me-time lie.
Please don’t get me wrong. Me-time in and of itself isn’t the problem, but if we follow the world's standards for me-time, we are in danger of losing sight of God’s plan and purpose for our lives. If your me-time leaves zero regard for the people you’re leaving at home, forgetting that you’re a mom, wife, and daughter of the King, then most likely you are not going to honor God in the activities you choose to do.
The Bible Says Our Me-Time Should Be God-Focused
Rather than making your me-time all about you, as the world teaches us to do, use this precious time to focus on God. Reflect on your character and your relationship with God and others. Spend your time considering how you want to achieve your dreams and how you will use your talents, gifts, and skills for furthering God’s kingdom. It is then that you’ll find rest, and you will be rejuvenated and strengthened, preparing you for what’s to come.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2 NIV)
Our greatest example of how we should spend our me-time is in Jesus Christ. In the few years of his ministry, he was found going off alone multiple times, and he even encouraged his disciples to do the same. He led a busy life and was often surrounded by crowds of people. He had a huge burden to bear as Savior of the World, and I’m sure the stress was overwhelming.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” (Mark 1:35 NIV)
When we read about Jesus, we see how he:
Made God-honoring me-time a priority. Jesus took time away from the crowds to pray. If you carry a lot of responsibilities, or if a lot of people depend on you, it may be difficult to find time to be alone, but just as Jesus did, so should we also make it a priority. “Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” (Luke 5:15-16 NIV)
Took care of the needs of others first. When Jesus heard the news of John the Baptist’s death, he was greatly grieved and wanted to go off to be alone in his sorrows. But the crowds kept following him. Even in his sadness, he put the needs of others before his own. “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.” Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”” (Matthew 14:13-16 NIV)
Later that evening, once he had satisfied the crowds, he was finally able to be alone. “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone.” (Matthew 14:22-23 NIV)
When the burdens of life seem almost too difficult to bear, but you just can’t seem to get away to be alone, you may be forced to choose between your needs or the needs of others. We must trust that God knows our needs.
I find so much promise in the passage, Isaiah 58:11 NIV, “The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.”
3 Ways To Know if Your Me-Time is God-Honoring
You aren’t ashamed of how you spend your me-time. “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15 NIV)
You come back feeling refreshed, renewed, less stressed; ready to take on the next set of challenges that life has to offer. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” (Matthew 11:28)
Tips for Productive Me-Time
Be intentional with how you spend your time alone. I recommend setting goals that you would like to work toward in your alone time.
Schedule your me-time. Coordinate with the people who rely on you so they don’t feel like you're deserting them. If you can’t find large chunks of time, build me-time into your daily routines by getting up early in the morning, using your lunch break at work, or taking a hot bath at the end of the day.
Look for me-time in the least expected places. For example, while in the waiting room at the doctor, you can catch up on your devotionals or read a book. When I’m in the car alone, I love to pray aloud and worship with my favorite Christian station.
As your me-time concludes, reflect on your experience, and plan how you will re-enter reality. The transition from being in a quiet place, alone in your thoughts and alone with God, back to the chaos of life can sometimes be quite overwhelming. Ask God to help you be ready for whatever comes your way and allow you to experience the same peace you felt during your quiet time in your normal day-to-day life.
Me-time may be a way to escape reality, but if you find yourself turning more and more to time alone rather than with others, search your heart and determine your intentions with this precious gift of time alone. If it honors God, then it will be evident to yourself and others in the way you handle everyday challenges. Just as Moses’ face was radiant after he was up on the mountain with God (Exodus 34:29), so also should you glow after well-spent me-time.
Photo Credit: ©Getty Images/Yolya
Jennifer Jabbour resides in the scenic San Diego countryside with her husband, teenage son and daughter, and their hilarious English Bulldog. Jennifer has a B.A. in Integrated Business Communications and a life-long desire to share her faith with others so they can also experience the joy of having a relationship with God. She has finally decided it's time to go after her lifelong dream of writing and publishing her first book, and hopefully many, many more thereafter. Besides being a writer, Jennifer is also a brown belt in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, a photographer, and an avid outdoors-woman. She loves camping, hiking, running, and playing the piano in her free time.
You can keep up with Jennifer on her website https://www.jenniferjabbour.