Being a wife, a homeschooling mom, a teacher, a mentor for others, and an advocate for women’s and children’s rights, I see myself as always in the giving end. I pour myself out so much that I often feel drained at the end of the day. Because we women are natural multi-taskers, we can successfully do many things at the same time, without even feeling the need to give ourselves a break! Sad to say, juggling different roles at home and at work leave us prone to exhaustion, even burnout, unless we regularly go to our green pastures.
A friend beautifully described her green pasture as a time to rest and recharge that addresses her needs holistically. It may be a place or an activity that refreshes us, gives us peace of mind, calms our soul, renews our strength, and makes us hopeful and praise God even more. It may be a place and a time to do our spiritual disciplines such as prayer and Bible reading — and more.
In Psalm 23, the Psalmist David referred to green pastures as a place where sheep do nothing but lie down in a place where there is safety and calm, away from the noise of rough rivers; where there’s food and water, and of course, the presence of the Good Shepherd.
Having lived in the desert part of China for five years, where I could only see more brown than green, I have gained a deeper appreciation of what the Psalmist David meant when he said “He makes me lie down in green pastures… He restores my soul.” (Ps. 23:2-3) Beholding a bit of greenery for me at that time would have been a refreshing experience; much more when lying down on a field of fresh, tender, green grass! I remembered the first day we arrived in Malaysia from China, I was so moved by the lush green vegetation of its countryside that my friend pointed out how I said as in a trance, “Oh so green, oh so green.” Such a soothing sight!
Green pastures are necessary to keep us going in this journey called life.
Last Christmas break, my husband and I took our homeschoolers to a nine-day drive educational road trip around the country. Here, I appreciated the importance of pit stops. No matter how we wanted to get to our next destination quickly, we had to stop for gas, water, bathroom breaks, warm meals, and just to stretch our legs and take a breather outside the car. Those are necessary stops to keep us going in our long journey.
When Jesus said “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest” (Lk. 1:45), it was an imperative — not an option to take it or leave it. Our Creator knows our frame. He knows that physically and emotionally, we need recharging, and spiritually, we cannot go on without being in His presence regularly. Even Jesus had to regularly draw away from the crowd to have His time alone with the Father. And what blows my mind is that in Exodus 31:17, it says “… and on the seventh day [God] rested and was refreshed.” God Himself was refreshed after He rested! Not that God was ever tired or weary, but He took time off to celebrate His work just like a father who felt inspired and thankful after browsing through pictures of his children. Isn’t that a beautiful example for us?
If you feel guilty taking a rest, embrace it as God’s command and accept that it is necessary to keep you going in the giving end.
What is your “green pasture”? I recently did a quick survey and asked at least 20 women this question. Here are some tried and tested ones that worked for myself and my friends:
- A corner or a room in the house where you can sit or lie down comfortably and undisturbed. For a woman who works outside the house the whole week, spending a restful weekend in her bedroom can be very refreshing. When my children were small and I couldn’t easily leave the house, the comfort room was my favorite place. I kept it clean, dry, scented, and with some devotionals and a bouquet of plastic flowers on the little shelf in one corner. That’s the only place I could have peace and quiet, browse my favorite magazine, meditate on God’s Word and pray, or cry my heart out without being disturbed.
- A garden where you grow herbs and flowers can be your regular meeting place with God. For many years, I’ve enjoyed singing hymns and conversing with God while doing my gardening routine in the morning.
- A nook in a nearby coffee shop can be a favorite spot once a week. Nowadays, there are affordable local cafés where we can enjoy time alone or with friends. Order a cup of coffee and chat a lot!
- A regular trip to the beach, a hike in the mountain, or a just a walk in the park without your cellphone can recharge you for another week of work. For women with children who are doing house chores most days, a half-day off weekly outside the house is highly recommended.
- A nearby spa where you can get a good massage can save you from accumulated stress. This was one of my green pastures for eight years when my husband and I were serving in Thailand. The monthly 300 baht ($10) budget for a two-hour massage had spared me from being sick and burned out! I would always be teary-eyed, counting blessings while getting a massage.
- Crocheting or any form of crafting and learning a new hobby can be very refreshing, too! My mentor once suggested that I pick up a hobby because I was already too tired to even enjoy my accomplishments. Whenever we are operating in our creative self, we can be reminded of how we are more like our own Creator.
- Writing, journaling and blogging are also good ways to be more intentional in taking time to ponder about our daily life. When we need something to write, we become more keen to find beauty in our ordinary days.
The list could go on, but only few could work for the different seasons in our life. If you find one that refreshes you the most, keep it regularly. Whatever makes you feel rested in the presence of your Good Shepherd, that’s your own green pasture to keep and enjoy.
As we celebrate March as Women’s Month, we recognize how God invites us busy women to enjoy the blessing of green pastures – a privilege we need not fight for, work to earn, or spend much for. We just need to do it.