|Sad Sandwich www.flickr.com/photos/powellburns/9911704733|
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:29-10 NIV
The phone rings and I take a deep breath wondering who's on the other end. Is it the insurance company inquiring about our snow damage? Is it my husband asking for help at the office? Is it the nursing home or my mother needing help? Maybe it’s my child needing empathy or advice or simply my grandkids asking for a special outing?
At my weakest moments when the fatigue of caring for everyone else’s needs wreaks havoc with my emotions, I fall into my husband’s arms weeping. "Where do we turn? Who's there to care for us?"
Members of the sandwich generation are everywhere. I see them on Facebook, at the grocery store, in the doctor’s office; adult children with an aging parent on one arm and their grandchildren on the other. Our parents are living longer, thanks to better nutrition and modern medicine—three and four generations needing support simultaneously. So, just when we’re starting to enjoy our empty nests, our parents, children and grandchildren all need us, too. Some days caring for the older and younger generations can leave me feeling like a soggy tuna fish sandwich!
With so many people tugging at our shirtsleeves how do we keep our sanity and build healthy boundaries for our personal lives and marriage?
1. Recognize our limitations. We can’t possibly be everything to everyone every minute of the day. Accept our limitations and offer the best help we can with the time and resources we have.
2. Set boundaries. Determine the urgent needs from the wants and act accordingly. Set realistic boundaries that protect time with our spouse and immediate family while helping meet the needs of our extended family members.
3. Enlist help from family, neighbors, and friends. Offering others the opportunity to serve will help lighten our load.
4. Rest. Promote our own physical and spiritual health, which includes time alone with the Lord, our spouse & family; healthy meals, regular exercise and sleep schedule. Serving well comes from a spiritually full heart and a healthy, rested body.
If you’re feeling like a soggy tuna fish sandwich today, please know you are not alone. There are thousands of us feeling pressed in on all sides, and although you may not see Him or feel Him, God says he is right there with us helping to carry the load. It sounds cliché but truth is truth. So, let go of that soggy bread and grab hold of God's promises, still fresh and true from ancient times until today.
Enjoy a simple pleasure every day—a cup of your favorite coffee, sweet treats, writing in your journal, a bubble bath—and don’t feel guilty.
Abba, Father, you see our every need and you know the needs of those we love. As we serve our families and minister to their needs, strengthen us and give us the peace that only your Holy Spirit can provide. Refresh us and renew a right spirit within us with every new day. Amen.
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