For the last almost-month, I’ve taken a respite. Not because I’ve been on vacation or was burned out, it’s because my wife and I had a baby, our second: Angelina Elizabeth Arnold.
She was born Mach 6, 2014. Our son, Luke, who is 3 1/2, has done incredible with a new baby. And my wife, in spite of having a C-Section, which is not an easy recovery by any means, has done incredible and is such a great mom. I am so blessed!
Because of this, I took some time off from blogging, social media, ministry-related activities that I do, speaking, and writing.
In the process, I’ve learned some things I’d like to share:
1. I needed a detox. To detox means to withdraw, and usually refers to substances. Well, in my case, I needed a detox from the constant demands (which I mostly place on myself) to check email, Facebook, Twitter, my blog, and on it goes.
We live in such a media-driven and digital-driven world. I can’t tell you how many times I felt the urge to check my “status” after the baby was born. But I revolved that I would take a break. (Of course my wife and I made an announcement on Facebook, complete with pictures of our precious gift; but I took a break from emails, tweets, blog posts, etc.)
Sometimes – and maybe more times than we realize - a good detox helps us have fresh perspective and reminds us what’s most important in life.
2. I needed some focus. I’m a doer. It’s hard for me to slow down and not “do.” I so easily find my identity in what I do and how I perform.
To be completely honest, this respite has, at times, been a challenge. My wife and I spoke very candidly about the reality of me being available after the baby comes so she can recover from the surgery. This means going to the store, helping with night-time feedings so my wife can rest, and taking care of our very active toddler.
The challenge for me has been this sinking feeling that I am not doing enough; that is, I am not getting work done or meeting with people to help them, etc.
But then I read something the other day which really brought some perspective. Author and speaker Randy Alcorn said there are certain works we do on earth that will carry throughout eternity – which is what Jesus meant when He said store up treasures in heaven. Alcorn said those works include giving to the poor, supporting missions, and even, taking care of children and changing diapers.
Really?! I thought. Changing diapers? Yep. And that was the exact word I needed to remind me that what I am doing now is reaping eternal benefits.
3. I needed some fuel. This post is turning to more of a confessional than anything… but the truth is, I’ve needed this respite because I was a bit low on fuel.
Truthfully, my morning prayer time and study the last few months have been stale. I was doing it, but it wasn’t immersed in it. I wasn’t spending the quality time with God like I need. He is my fuel. And when I don’t fill up on Him, I run on my strength (and that’s never a good thing).
So with having a newborn, I do the “early shift” – which is anywhere between 6:30AM to 7:30Am. And after I feed her and she’s asleep, I get to spend an hour or two with God. It’s been amazing!
Moreover, I’ve been reading more too. I finished a couple of books already and have picked up a few more.
Although having a newborn has it’s challenges for sure – broken up sleep, a change in routine – it has truly been a gift.
And more than anything, being with family is the best gift and I wouldn’t trade it for money or fame or anything else the world has to offer.
Questions: Do you think it’s important to take respite? What are some other lessons you’ve learned (or could learn)?