When I began preparing for my transition back to the States, I scheduled time to visit places in Ireland one last time and to meet with friends to say goodbye. My last weekend in country was spent at the home of close friends. Even though time alone makes me feel most refreshed, I knew part of caring for my soul during that time was saying goodbye well.
My alone time during those last days was spent packing and cleaning; however, I still found time to take a deep breath and enjoy the view from my apartment. And I made time for prayer and Bible reading, even in the middle of packing and goodbyes.
But then I arrived back in the United States. Suddenly I didn’t have a routine, I was living with other people, albeit family, again, and I had important details like a cell phone and a car to sort out. Caring for myself emotionally and spiritually fell to the bottom of the long list of things to accomplish, and by the end of two weeks at home I was emotionally and spiritually drained.
What was a priority when leaving wasn’t a priority when arriving. However, I knew I needed to find space for time alone, for quiet reflection on God’s Word, for focused times of prayer.
For some reason I assumed by simply scheduling a month for rest at the beginning of my time in the States that rest would actually occur. I was wrong.
So between errands with my sister and mom and phone calls with friends, I scheduled alone time. I turned down the radio and prayed as I drove thirty minutes to the Pacific Ocean. A morning away at the beach. Time to sit and relax while writing and drinking coffee. My heart and mind needed the soothing sound of the waves and the warmth of the sunshine in order to regain a sense of calm and balance.
Once I returned home a couple of hours later, I found the energy to accomplish the paperwork and emails that had been piling up. Mainly, however, my soul was refreshed. All of the upcoming changes, exciting and unknown, no longer felt overwhelming. Instead, life seemed more balanced, more manageable. The stressors still existed, but my ability to deal with them in a godly, rational manner increased.
Transition has brought with it a new set of challenges and adjustments, and the amount of time I have alone and my regular place to visit for a breather from life have changed. While in Ireland I scheduled regular time away at least once a month, and I am realizing that I will need to continue this practice. The demands of life don’t vanish when I exit baggage claim on US soil; if anything, they multiply.
Prioritizing time to refresh my heart and mind remains vital. For me this means spending time at the beach, taking a long walk or meandering through favorite stores by myself. For you it might mean catching up with a friend over coffee or joining a small group Bible study or taking a family vacation. My challenge to all of us who are currently experiencing or will soon be experiencing transition is this – at the beginning of your transition schedule time to care for your soul and keep scheduling it.
Maybe you can only carve out half an hour a week or a few hours every two weeks for this. That’s okay; simply give yourself permission to care for your soul in the midst of the chaos and demands that are transition.
What helps you refresh? How do you plan for times of transition?