I woke up this morning with the Rascall Flatts’, “Life is a Highway,” song stuck in my head. Perhaps it is because of the photo prompt for The Zelie Group‘s photo challenge, or perhaps it’s because I am trying to keep the view of Advent being a journey of preparation. Whatever the reason, the refrain keeps playing, on a loop, through my brain:
Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I wanna drive it all night long
Life is a highway – crowded, with people all traveling one direction. Yet, there are exit ramps every so often, and some people broken down on the side of the road.
This Advent, we are traveling through a season together – the season of preparation. Preparation for what? I think the preparation means something individual to each one of us. But, regardless of whether or not some drivers on our Life Highway care to admit, we are all traveling this season together.
So, what can I do during this Advent season, to make this journey together a little smoother?
Just like parenting experts advise parents to, “Take care of yourself first, so that you can effectively care for your family,” I am realizing I need to be better about my self-care, or more exactly, my family’s care.
I need to know when to step back and credit my family with the times they have shown charity toward the others throughout the year.
Compassion fatigue, the spiritual, mental, and physical exhaustion that comes from carrying the burdens and pains from others is a real thing. As a social worker, we are taught to identify the symptoms of this particular fatigue in ourselves and our colleagues – it contributes to a significant burnout rate in the “helping professions.”
While I want to encourage my family push themselves to give of themselves, I must also recognize there comes a limit where giving of oneself can become detrimental.
This Advent, I need to refocus and regroup. I need to step back from giving to others, and focus on giving to my family. Not in the material sense, but in the spiritual and physical sense. I need to stop running around, committing time, energy, and sometimes money to worthy causes – because they are all worthy. And, I need to give my time, energy, and sometimes money toward helping my family function better!
In order to ensure my children are prepared to face the world, and extend charity and mercy toward others, I need to make sure they aren’t suffering from a form of compassion fatigue before they even begin their lives – so they can assist other motorists on the highway of life.
The best way I can think of doing that is to heed the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
So, this Advent, I am going to be hopeful in my ability to keep my vocation as a wife and mother in the forefront of all my actions – to know when to take a step back and politely , without guilt, abstain from committing my time, effort, and money, in order to focus on the spiritual, physical, and emotional needs of those closest to me!