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The Importance of a Break

July 16, 2019

Life is set up by God to include breaks. There’s the way the sun goes down and gives us a break from running and working. Then there’s breakfast—breaking the fast that occurs through the night hours, gaining strength for the new day. God gives us a weekly sabbath; one day of rest and restoration. God set all these systems in motion because he loves us. He knows that we are human beings, not machines. He knows how we are wired.

If we follow God’s pattern, we will plan a vacation in our year of work. We might save up and go away to some place out of the ordinary, spending our time in a new place, refreshing ourselves with new surroundings. Sometimes we might decide it’s better to have a “stay-cation.” We take the same time off, but we stay home, sleeping in our own bed at night. Either way we do it, these times are intended to serve many of the same purposes as a sabbath. They are intended to be a time of restoration.

Yet it’s easy to screw up a vacation. We can strip it of its intended purpose and power very easily. We are people who seem to constantly be on the run. Sometimes “accomplishment” is so hard-wired into our mindset, we can’t even take a week off without overloading our schedules. I’ve talked to some people and they moan with exhaustion, “I need to have a vacation from the vacation I just returned from!” That’s funny, but also a hard way to head back into a challenging year!

I believe a vacation needs to be a time of fun, but it is important that it is more than just fun. It needs to be more than a whirlwind of new activities we haven’t had time to do yet or can’t do at home. It shouldn’t be a time of trying to check off accomplishments and meetings. As I have had increased personal and professional responsibilities over the years, my own needs have changed, and I have become very aware of what needs to be part of our vacation time for us to spend it wisely:

1. Relax. Keep the agenda as free as possible. Don’t fill it up with events and must-dos, even if they are fun. Allowing time to sleep in, nap in the middle of the day, and just listen to the call of your body and mind is perfect.

2. Recharge. Your batteries run down with use. It doesn’t mean you have been ineffective. It means you have been running at high capacity. If you want to start the new season again and do it well, those batteries must be recharged. Figure into your time the ability to mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually recharge. Don’t allow stress to follow you there and be part of your agenda.

3. Reflect. Look at the big picture; those things that we say are most important to us. Are we really putting first in our schedules and practical living the things we SAY are first? Are we living out what we value? Wherever there needs to be an adjustment, plan to get after it when you get back into daily life. Begin to pray about it now.

4. Reevaluate. Plato said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Truth. We gradually get further and further from our hopes and dreams. Look at where you are and see if you are on track for being the person you want to be. Just a shift of one little degree or two can make a lifetime of difference.

5. Reconnect with important relationships. Life will never be better than the quality of your relationships. Vacation is a great time to take stock of where they are and take the prioritized time to add value to each one of them.

We often say far too casually, “Oh, do this. It will be life changing,” or “Wow! That was life changing.” The truth is, most of the time it’s just a pretty good experience. But if you and I take our vacation time seriously, as a time with a true purpose, we will find our lives to be changed for the better, at least for the next 365 days.