Do You Wish You Had a Pause Button on Your Life?

Today’s post is a guest post by Sarah Mae.

Do you ever wish you could pause your life just long enough to catch up with it?

The other day I woke up and thought, “if I could just magically make everyone sleep for a month I could catch up on the cleaning, my to-do lists, and my life.” I want to get everything in order, and then take time for my soul. I need to figure out my life, my next steps, and begin…all why everyone sleeps so their are no distractions or interruptions.

I need a big, fat, PAUSE button on life.

Can anyone relate?

Well, since I can’t have one (boo), I have decided to create my own pauses amid the distractions and normalties of life. I shall do this by choosing to own my life (as Sally Clarkson says), and be active in the life I want to live.

And why not? I’ve only got one shot at this life gig, so I sure as heck don’t want to waste it. I want to live fully alive! I want to figure out how to enjoy my children (because I don’t always). I want to wonder, and be inspired, and open my eyes to the whole world. I want to embrace the mundane and the hard. I want to live true and honest and willing.

So I will.

“It is nothing to die. It is frightful not to live.” -Victor Hugo

Want to join me? Here are a few ways we can choose to live:

Figure Out What Gives You Life, and What Drains It

Living full and open-eyed isn’t about living selfish. Truly living is about figuring out how to thrive even in the mundane; how to live so as to take in and find the pleasure in the hidden, the life in the loss, and the truth in the every of days. One way we can do this is by figuring out what drains our life and what fills it. For example, I could say my kids drain my life, but that would be looking at life through a speckled lens. Instead, I could say that my the days I sit home and avoid my children while my guilt racks up points drains me, but what gives me life is choosing to go on an adventure with them and enter into their worlds and see through their innocent eyes and their full of wonder spirits.

Do you see the difference? It’s perspective.

However, there are truly draining things in life that we should not feel guilty for giving up. Is there something you are doing, volunteering for, or leading that is stealing the joy you have in other areas of your life? What if you dropped one thing you were doing, and in dropping that one thing your body and your mind were freed up, just enough that you could enjoy your family more?

What if you did a hard thing, like serving someone else, but it filled you because you were realized that you gave life another in the serving? But of course you can’t live outside yourself if you’re doing too much for yourself.

Which brings us to the question, what makes you happy? In the deepest part of your being, who do you want to be? What fills you up? What makes you come alive?

Think on these things, and figure out what will fill your soul and what will drain it. Un-muddy your perspective by thinking outside the lens and see what you can come up with.

Evaluate Your Free Time

I have wasted hours of my life on nothing at all. And sometimes that’s okay, but the wasted hours add up to dim, boring, unfruitful life. How un-interesting! This morning I went to Starbucks, and sitting outside was a man smoking a cigarette and reading a book. It was 30 degrees out. I could see his breath in the air. I said, “is this some form of self-torture?” And he replied, “No, it’s actually not that bad.”

I found him completely interesting.

He was living off the grid of normal. He was doing something different, and I liked it. And I thought about the cold wrapping around his head, and the freshness of the chill that perhaps made him feel alive. Or maybe he just wanted to smoke. Either way, it made me want to experience life.

Strange, I know, but it did, and sometimes it’s just those little things. The feel of the cold on your skin, the numb of your fingers, the air in your lungs. It’s all a gift, and I want to feel it.

What are you doing in your free time to feel life? You could read a classic, or go on a walk in the snow, or blast a musical, or watch the flame in a candle, or write or sing or do something out of the ordinary.

Do something, feel something!

Come alive in the hours, in the moments that are offered to you in between the “have-to-do” hours.

“What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it.”  -Anonymous

Get Help

I just hired a friend to clean my house once a week while I go grocery shopping.

I know many of you don’t have the money to do that, I didn’t for years, but I also never prioritized having someone help me. I never thought that if I cut my cable and not have TV (except for the function of playing movies) that I could afford help. I never thought that if spent $40 less on groceries a week, I could have help. I never thought like that because having help seemed like a luxury (and for many it is). So maybe you absolutely don’t have the money to hire someone to help you with your housework, but perhaps you could barter with someone – they clean your home once a week, and you do whatever it is that you do, for them.

Listen, I understand that many won’t like this suggestion because of the stigma that getting help is either only for the weak or only for the rich. I reject both of those notions. First, so what if you’re weak in the area of cleaning? If you are, accept it and make adjustments the best you can. As far as help being only for the rich? Yes, some people absolutely cannot fit it in their budget (boy do I know how that feels), but some of us want to, but haven’t really thought about ways we could make it happen. I’m saying, just think about it. Could you find other areas to cut spending in order to get some help? Do you have a special skill you could trade in order to have help?

Again, just think about it.

Get Perspective From an Older Woman

Have you ever experienced something that seems so important and intense at night, and then morning comes and the thing doesn’t seem as dyer? This is how I feel about perspective. Perspective is a grand thing, and it generally comes from those who have lived much of life and have gone through the ups and downs of the human experience. They are like the morning, they see things clearly and in the light. I love talking with my mentor because she is able to calm me down and bring things into focus. She asks me great questions that help me think through whatever issue I’ve brought up, and she doesn’t get as worked up about things as I do. I understand that not all older women have a wise perspective, but many do, and it’s worth finding an older women to talk with regularly, as you will gain great perspective on the happenings of life.

Own Your Life

I struggle with discontentment. I long to be in other places, to live another life, to explore and get lost in art and music and deep conversation. At least once every few months I go to a dark place where I feel trapped with my life. I have to be super intentional about coming out of that place, by being careful what music I listen to, to what I think, to how I pray. I have learned that to be content in my life and to enjoy it, I must first accept it. I need to accept exactly where I am, and then choose to own my life right where I’m at. I am responsible for creating beauty and adventure in my life; I am responsible for filling my soul. I want my heart to be captivated by the wonder of the world, but I can’t do that when I’m sitting around sulking about all that I can’t do with my life. I must get up, go out, and live…kids in tow! Sally has taught me that a wise woman owns her life, and I have come to see how very true that is. My longings will never be fulfilled on this earth, because deep down inside, the groanings are for heaven.

Accept your life, own it, fill your soul with beauty and adventure, and lean into the hope that one day, if you know Him, your heart will be filled with the fullness of heaven.

By Sarah Mae,

 Psst… Sarah Mae’s book, Desperate – Hope for the Mom Who Needs to Breathe (Thomas Nelson), was released this week! The book was written for those who have ever whispered, “I just can’t be a mom today.” From the perspective of a mom in the middle of the little years and the perspective of a mom who has raised her children well, you will find encouragement, practical help, Q & A with Sally Clarkson, and videos at the end of each chapter of Sarah Mae and Sally discussing the chapter. Find it wherever books are sold (and check out the amazing gifts and giveaways happening this week!).

I hold these pages, words of Sarah Mae’s and Sally’s, that are a gift to every mother, that welcome mothers everywhere out of hiding and loneliness and into a fellowship of sisters and mentors, that will make you feel not alone, that will make you feel that there is real God-given hope.” -Ann Voskamp, New York Timesbest-selling author of One Thousand Gifts

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  • Bridget Harding

    You know, I love this passage except for the fact it quotes Sally rather than Jesus. Let me explain before I get virtually slapped LOL. I love Sally. Sally’s advice is wonderful: asking for and getting help from other, more wise, more experienced Mothers, or even hired, help IS wonderfully beneficial. But to whom?

    What about the opportunity cost of this example passage? What about spending that “extra” money saved going down to the soup kitchen or alley or WIC/food stamp office and buying someone Mamma without a husband and 5 children shoes or a jacket with that “hired help” money. American ladies let’s be honest and truthful, are you really, honestly, talking with the Lord someone really in “need” or someone who may be spoiled and not wanting to maybe work as hard as you need to.

    Jesus did not say life would be easy. Was His?

    Yes, we should make beauty in our lives. But even more, we should appreciate what we have and ask for help when absolutely, in the context of survival: “needed”. For example, IF you are truly at the end of your ropes and on the verge of major health problems due to being overwhelmed, hire help. But is that you? Rather, are you looking for happiness, true joy, or maybe an easier life? Joy in life comes from knowing Jesus, praying to Him for contentment, and the ability to GIVE by looking seriously at our lives and at others’ lives.

    So many middle/lower class Mom’s in America are desperate because they are spoiled. It’s a harsh reality ladies. Visit Africa and see how many Mom’s “need” hired help with chores and cleaning. Visit an orphanage in Ukraine and look at your children’s lives. Visit rural Thailand and see their medical care. Or if you can’t financially travel Moms– just read about poverty in India at your local library.

    Now go hire help that is “needed”.

    I’m so conflicted by this passage as only at the end does it mention Jesus, and by that–Him. Only at the end.

    However, I do believe this is an IMPORTANT book bringing up important and REAL discontentment I’ve seen Mom’s everywhere in America and I couldn’t agree more with Sally that we need more PERSPECTIVE. However, I would add we as American Mom’s need more global perspective. Are we really “desperate”? Are we really “in need” of help with chores or rather, help with our relationship with Jesus.

    Love, Bridget
    ~An American Mom who has seen poverty, real “desperation” of “needs” vs. “wnats” And for those desperate to KNOW Jesus in America and other countries.

    • Annabel

      I can understand where you are coming from and I agree with you, but I look at it in a different perspective. Yes, we are spoiled and yes, those other women do it on their own, but we do live in a different society. A society where we are very much expected to volunteer and help others out. Women in these other countries are just expected to survive. Their greatest concern is food and sickness, keeping their children alive. Thankful I dont have to worry. Sometimebout those things so I have other time to devote to other things. To whom much is given, much is required. I find my responsibility in spending my time wisely and discerning where to spend that time. I see it as if I could pay someone to clean my house it would free me up to make meals for the elderly I know, to visit with them or clean their house. I doesnt just have to be a selfish reason. You cant know what someone would do with that time or what their motives are.
      I find that many moms are desperate, not to be able to have their manicures or to sit at the coffee shop, but desperate to know that what they are doing has value, that God see’s it. That just because they are not able to visit and minister in these foreign countries doesn’t mean they are not making a difference in eternity.Desperate to know God and to know they are doing right by Him in raising the children He gave them. I find the point of Desperate is to encourage and remind us that we have a great calling here and not to be discouraged with the sometimes mundane we are called to do.

      • Annabel

        Please forgive the mistakes in typing. I did this on my phone.

      • Joy

        Great thoughts Annabel. Thanks for sharing!

    • Jennifer

      It sounds as if God has given you His heart for impoverished countries and that is wonderful. There are so many needs in the world and I think that God has put specific groups of people and societies onto each of our hearts so that we can reach out to them in His name. I am writing to you with the perspective of someone that has been called to work with Americans, specifically those who are impoverished and orphaned. Our hearts are both to further God’s kingdom in the area that He has called us, and I commend you for bringing your passion to our attention. Now I’d like to share mine with you.

      It’s difficult to compare the American society as our societies operate very differently from each other. Many poorer societies are not as isolated as we are. The people in other countries do have to work hard to survive, but they do it in a community/family which means they help each other out. There is definitely real need there, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t real need here as well.

      On the outside, Americans look more affluent, but there are many starving children and families here that no one sees. There is sickness, and diseases that are left-untreated because of cost. There are people who are in really bad shape here too, it’s just much more hidden. There are advertising campaigns to make us more aware of the child that is starving in Africa, but how many of us are aware of the child that is starving just down the street?

      Listening to your child cry because they are hungry is a common
      occurrence in many homes. People don’t know where to go for help
      because they are shunned just by asking. In our society we are much more isolated and expected to do things on our own. Asking for help is looked on as weakness or laziness. Jesus told the weary and heavy-laden to come to him for rest, yet our Christian culture puts a stigma on that. I understand that you are trying to open our perspective, but your words can sound like condemnation to those of us who are drowning. It is difficult to understand other people’s perspectives unless we’ve been in their situation, so while you may have been in the position to do your life without asking for help, many others are not, and that has nothing to do with our not having a relationship with Jesus.

      Also, while Jesus’ life was not easy, he took time to just be by himself with God. He often turned away people who needed him and were asking for his attention. He purposefully spent his time with his disciples and lived in community with them but he knew when he needed to withdraw and refresh himself. Doing this is not being spoiled but following the example of Christ.

      Since you seem to be aware of Sally and Sarah Mae’s ministry it surprises me that you speak as if they don’t include Jesus because of one blog post. I have never been pointed more clearly to the feet of Jesus more than I have by Sally. I also find her advice to be very solidly scriptural.

      Again, we all look on the world through our own lenses and our take on these written words was apparently very different. I found them to be encouraging and helpful and full of scriptural principles. I think there is a lot of wisdom there and am grateful to have this encouragement in my life.

      • Joy

        Very wise thoughts. Thanks for joining in the conversation Jennifer!

    • Joy

      Hi Bridget,

      I appreciate your point of view, and will happily allow you to express your opinion if you will seek to keep your words kind and gracious. I have the distinct privilege to see it from both sides….I am an American and I live in a third world country, surrounded by poverty and many things that you described in your comment. My heart hurts as yours does for the impoverished around the globe and seeing that they are given every opportunity to know Jesus and also to pursue a better life. Let me share with you where I am coming from as I look at both sides. Women in countries other than “western” cultures “do” life very differently than we do. The ladies cook together, wash their clothes together, if someone is sick, the pitch in to watch each other’s kids, and they in general just do life together, often living together and sharing the burdens together. Now, right or wrong, American culture is not the same way. We are much more isolated, much more. We do our lives by ourselves, and fly or fail alone, by and large. That is what our American culture has taught us.

      Two different ways of doing life. Women in most non-Western cultures also spend many hours sitting, resting, and taking naps. Time is for filling with food, friends, and conversation, not for getting so much done, as in American culture. I see this as a big positive to a non-Western attitude toward life.
      Now, as far as what Sally or Sarah have said about figuring out your puzzle and how you can be a godly wife and mother for the long haul…..
      I reject what you are implying, that in order to be a Christ follower that we are not allowed to take a break, utilize help when we need it, or rest occasionally in order that we might be fruitful for the “long haul”. I see this in no way as being a poor use of time or resources. Yes, Jesus has called us to give to the poor, to give sacrificially, and are not called to live an easy life. But, where do you draw the line with the thinking you were writing about? Am I never to enjoy a cup of fair-trade coffee, thinking instead of how I might have better used that money? Or should I not drive a car, thinking instead of how far that would go in another culture? Should I, if taken to the extreme, live without electricity, heat in the winter, or only eat rice and beans for every meal, that I might give more? Do you do all of these things?
      I understand where you are coming from, Bridget, I do, but I think perhaps your tone comes across a little judgmental. As someone who wrestles with how much to enjoy and how much to give away, I implore each woman to pray earnestly before the Lord that He would show each one of us, individually how best to use the resources He has given us for His glory.
      For me, if that means hiring someone to wash the dishes, so that I might have a quiet time with my Jesus, so that I can be refreshed to serve my family and the poor better, then that is what I will do. Gladly and without guilt. There are always more needs, always. Jesus did not heal every sick person while He was on earth. He frequently retreated alone to rest and pray. He poured His life into His twelve disciples, why not have 12,000 close disciples instead? That would have made more impact. Do you see where I am going?
      Perhaps your message could have been heard a little better here if you had not been quite so attacking. Peace to you dear sister!!

      • Bridget

        I guess my “spoiled” word hit a raw nerve, including with you, and for that I am so very sorry. You are right. I am wrong. Thank you for your kind and loving responses to my fumbling and stumbling. Ugh.

        • Joy

          Oh sweet Bridget,
          No worries! I think it is just *so* hard to convey accurately how we feel via the web. :) All is grace, and just know I do totally *get* where you are coming from. Love to you!! You are not wrong, and I am not right…we both have valid points and God has given us both wisdom. I would love to continue this conversation with you…. :) Blessings, sister.

  • Rachel

    GREAT ideas! I am inspired to make a list of what gives me life vs. what is draining it. For example, cut back the time I spend on Pinterest or Facebook and spend that time working out (i listen to sermons when I work out so I really feel energized afterwards!) or touching base with a friend I haven’t spoken with in awhile. I find that I am drained after being on FB & Pinterest a total of 30-45 min a day, and know I would feel so much more refreshed and a better mom if I used my “me time” a little bit differently.

    Our American culture has less of a sense of community (typically) than other cultures. I love the idea of cutting cable bill and hiring help. Thankfully I have family who live close by and they are a huge help to me, but if I didn’t I would totally consider it. I don’t think we should make mom’s feel guilty, just because they are accepting help with cleaning/household tasks. In other cultures there are more extended family members living together or in close proximity, thus help is easier to find. At the end of the day if having someone clean your house will allow you to spend more quality time with your kiddos..then I am all for it!

  • Jeff Goins

    I love this. Slowing down has become an important theme in my life lately. Great blog, btw, Joy! Would love to hear more about the work you do in Indonesia.

  • Amanda E

    Love your post. For me, it’s feeling like a failure to allow someone to watch my kids when I need to deep clean or just rest or whatever it is that isn’t happening that I need someone.. the weakness you described would be me. And oh the guilt is the draining thing! THE draining thing! Thank you for writing from the heart! It blessed me :)

    • Sarah Beals

      Amanda, there is nothing wrong with getting a little help every once in a while with your kids so you can go out. Think of your day as a full time job. Now realize that you never leave it, there are no vacation days, no sick days. Days run into days. Let go of the guilt. Everyone needs a little break from time to time. :)

      • Joy

        Good words! Thanks for pinch hitting for me while I was away this weekend! Love you Sarah!

    • StephanieGlidden

      I think that this is one thing that this generation of moms need to let go of. I had a grandmother who raised 14 kids, gardened, cooked from scratch, scrubbed her floors on her hands and knees and never had help. I wonder how she did it. Then one day I realized that she wasn’t a mom who would sit on the floor and play board games, take a walk with her children etc. I think our generation of mothers is much more connected to our children than previous ones and that a spotless home or even a career is not as focused on. Being WITH our children takes time, which means other things need to slide. So think of it as getting help with those things is moving you towards a closer walk with your children. That is nothing to be guilty about!!! Blessings!

      • Joy

        Exactly, Stephanie! Good point!

  • Sarah Beals

    So much wisdom here! I especially love the points “ask for help” and gain perspective from an older mentor. I feel sorry for the young moms today who google everything instead of asking an older women. There is so much to be said for asking, receiving and applying friendship and help from an older women. Well done.

    • Bridget

      Hi Sarah, I didn’t say anything about being lazy, I think those are your words. The Proverbs 31 woman did have servants and maidens; and yes, she is most valuable serving them by providing for them and their families during that time! Every mother so valuable to Christ raising our Christian children. We MUST BE EXAMPLE SERVANTS to them by showing them what we do with our time and our blessings (riches). I don’t want to criticize and God forgive me if I am too blunt with my words because I am so imperfect! I just wanted to point out that Jesus’ life was hard, why do we expect ours to be easy even for one minute? We must rely on Him.

      As for your rich comment, I disagree as Jesus himself, “…looked around and said to His disciples, ‘How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!’ And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, ‘Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.’ And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, ‘Who then can be saved?’ But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.’” (Mark 10:23-27)

      We are told that the disciples were “astonished” at what He said.

      And, Luke 16:19-25, Matthew 19:23-24, Mark 10:23-25, Luke 6:24, James 5:1…

      • Sarah Beals

        I don’t want to add drama to my dear friend Joy’s page, so I will simply say this: 1 Samuel 2:7 “The Lord sends poverty and wealth, he humbles and exalts.” Grace and peace.

  • DeborahPenner

    I love this offering … I wish that I had had this level of wisdom when my children were young… and I am so so grateful that it is NEVER too late to shift into acceptance and JUST START relishing what is, choosing Life over all else …Thank you Sarah Mae!!

  • Sarah

    Thanks for your post today! I strongly believe that moms need to be granted permission to ask for/hire help. As a young mom, my eyes were opened to this last summer and it has brought so much GOODNESS to my home.

  • Alexis, A Moment with Mom

    Seeking the counsel of a wiser female friend has been invaluable in my life, I only wish I had realized its worth and value earlier. Thank you for this encouraging post, we will be tweeting this.

  • TraciMLittle

    Love this advice! Traci Michele @ Ordinary Inspirations

  • Beautiful Calling

    I love how you talk about sacrificing in some areas to be able to afford a little help. I did that last fall. It was an incredible blessing and helped bring me out of a dark place. I just received my book, Desperate, in the mail on Thursday. I can’t wait to dive in.