By Katie Eubanks Ginn
I was watching an episode of “The Crown”* the other night, and at one point I was struck by how closely Queen Elizabeth’s aides were following her.
In the scene, the queen receives a shocking revelation over the phone from the prime minister — news involving not only the British government but a close member of her family. She tells the prime minister, “Leave it with me,” hangs up the phone, and starts walking up a staircase back toward a friend with whom she’s been visiting. Elizabeth is doubtless trying to process what she’s just heard. In a moment, she’ll have to tell her friend their visit is over.
And there are her aides, walking so closely behind her they could trip on her shoes.
I wouldn’t have been surprised if Olivia Colman, the Oscar-winning actress portraying Elizabeth that season, had turned around and said, “Could you two please give me some space?!” I would’ve wanted to — whether I was the real queen or the Netflix version.
Even extroverts (and I don’t think Elizabeth was one) need time to themselves. On the other hand, even introverts need time around other people. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says there is “a time for every matter under heaven,” and I believe that includes time alone and time in fellowship.
Since Stephen and I are introverts, we try to set aside regular time for ourselves individually, though often under the same roof. This gives us some breathing room in the midst of a lot of togetherness, which we’re still getting used to as newlyweds.
We’re also learning how to balance work and rest. He’s getting a little more sleep than when he was single, since he has a reason not to work late. I’ve been planning and organizing my time better, thanks to his influence.
I’m glad to be taking on some of Stephen’s proactive tendencies. I feel better on a Sunday afternoon when I’ve taken time to jot down my work goals for the week. However, I have overdone it a couple times. Instead of spending the weekend in laziness, my pendulum swings to the other extreme, and I feel obligated to fill the weekend with tasks. By Sunday afternoon, I’m crying in the closet and begging God to let me off the hook.
Fortunately, I stop long enough to ask myself: Is God the one who put me on the hook? Often the answer is no.
This is a small example of how God cares about our mental health more than we do. Certainly, He calls us to lay down our lives when we follow Him, and we’ll endure hard seasons that test our mental fortitude as believers. But He also calls us to Sabbath. He calls us to love our neighbor as we love ourselves — and if we aren’t taking care of ourselves, how can we expect to care for our neighbor? He calls us to His yoke, not our own; He tells us His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30).
Sometimes God calls me to do something hard, and I have to remember: His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. His aim isn’t to make me miserable. This calling is ultimately good for me.
Sometimes He calls me to rest, and I have to remember: His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. I shouldn’t pick up things that He hasn’t asked me to carry today.
I know the little work-vs.-rest struggle I’ve described above is petty compared to what some of you are wrestling with. Maybe you’re in a place that feels hopeless, you can’t figure out your next move, and you feel like God is acting intentionally mysterious about it all. I’ve been there.
Please know that your heavenly Father has tender compassion for you; He loves you; He is for you; and He will show you the next step if you will trust Him. Sometimes it’s through scripture, a sermon, a loved one, a friend, a small group, or a Christian counselor — and sometimes, it takes longer than we think it should — but don’t give up. Don’t quit asking Him for help. He will not fail you.
*While “The Crown” seems mostly tame (I’m on season 3 of 5), viewer discretion is advised, especially for season 2. I’d recommend looking up a summary of each episode’s content before watching.
Katie Eubanks Ginn