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The Importance of Respite

Luke and Lina2Respite (noun) – “a pause from doing something (as work); a pause for relaxation.”

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)?

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Dan Erickson

    I often take purposeful times of rest and reflection. I tend to blog out in advance so you might not know it from my blog, but I sometimes go weeks without writing posts. This summer I’m even going to cut back on how many posts I have. I think many of us, especially bloggers and writers, can let ourselves get overloaded and carried away.

    • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

      Thanks Dan for sharing this. I think it is wise of you to take time off for reflection and rest. Really, it keeps us fresh and our craft fresh. Thanks again for sharing.

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TCAvey

    When I was pregnant my hubby and I decided to do a long fast, but since I couldn’t fast from food, I fasted from ALL social media/entertainment (including phone and TV).
    It was difficult at first, but oh the amazing time I spent with God!
    Since then I’ve fasted from social media few times. We don’t realize how much time, energy and thoughts go into social media- even “good” social media like encouraging others through our blogs.

    I’m so glad you got time with your family. Family is so important.

    And it’s true, by spending time with our kids- even changing diapers- we are investing into God’s Kingdom. This is something God really spoke into my life when I changed career paths and became a Home Maker.

    Thanks for sharing. More people need to do this.

    • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

      Thanks for sharing this story, TC. I hear you: as great as social media can be for making a difference, it also can be a huge distraction and erode at our faith. Sounds like God really has affirmed your calling as a mom and your investment in family. Awesome. Excited for your upcoming launch!

  • http://thomasemason.net/ Thomas Mason

    I tried to take a bit of a break from Twitter and blogging recently. Although I haven’t been completely absent, I had at least lessened my presence on several facets of social media and haven’t been so glued to them in the past few weeks. It’s so important and necessary to take breaks every now and then and reconnect with God and others.

    • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

      Hey Thomas! Thanks for the comment. Yes, I agree it’s vital to take a break and get refreshed and reconnected God.

  • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

    I do think it’s important to take respite. I did that last week with my family in the mountains of North Eastern California. We spent four days at a camp, we were the only ones there besides the caretakers. There was not internet, no phone and no busy streets. There was snow, a fireplace and plenty of time to read and to enjoy each other’s company. It was wonderful.

    • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

      Thanks for sharing Caleb. Sounds like you guys had a wonderful time (and it was much needed). How are things in Ukraine now? I know that is a wide-open question. My Ukrainian friend who is with YWAM in Russia has had some challenges staying in Russia as of late.

      • http://sukofamily.org/ Caleb

        Things are still very tense, especially in Eastern Ukraine. Elections are coming up in just over a month and that will determine a lot of the future for Ukraine. It’s hard to say right now how things will look in the next few months.

  • http://www.barbraveling.com/ Barb Raveling

    Congratulations on your new baby, Dave. That is so exciting! And also it’s great to hear about what God is teaching you through your time off. I definitely think we need respite. Time each day with God and regular time away from work and technology. I love it when we go backpacking and camping because it’s not possible to get Internet access so it’s an enforced break from work. :)

    I listened to a great talk by Brad Bigney at a biblical counseling conference. He said he plans a day off just to pray and spend with God once every two months. He plans them at the beginning of the year and puts them on his calendar so he follows through with them like any appointment. I thought that was a great idea, that I’m hoping to implement. Just did my first one last week although this reminds me that I need to schedule the rest of them on the calendar!

    • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

      Hi Barb. Thanks for sharing! And thanks for your encouragement with the new baby. It’s amazing how God will use things – like bringing a child into the world – to slow us down :) _

      I like the idea you mentioned from Brad. I used to do what I call, a “date with God” every month. I was a time I’d get away and spend more quality time with Him. But that has happened it a bit. I need to reinstate that. God bless.

  • cathy courtney

    Congratulations for taking a well deserved respite. What a tangled web we weave. I once told someone that social media is one of those things that can take hold of us and cause us to become either antisocial or too social.
    I find that I get caught up in my work and in my craft. I get so into it that I become lazy in other things. Respite is good to get perspective in what is required of you by God. It is imperative to keep in the word and not let other elements get in the way.

    • http://www.reflectionsfromthealley.org/ Dave Arnold

      Thanks Cathy. I agree with your statement about social media. Personally, I am taking some much-needed time off from it.