Main Point: We need physical and spiritual rest. Slow down to listen to the Lord. Marinate in God’s word. Pray. Decompress. While my article addresses men directly as leaders in the home, it applies equally to wives and mothers, too. Both men and women need what I describe.
Wanna Get Away? is a popular slogan for a major U.S. airline. It works because life is increasingly uncertain, chaotic, and physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually draining. We all want and need a time to disconnect, rest, focus on the Lord, and think intentionally about our families.
At the behest of one of my life coaches, I did this very thing in August. My coach strongly suggested I do this at least 2-3 times per year. While I was not new to this practice, it had been way too long since I last did it. I was so glad I did.
With eight children (five are adults and it doesn’t get easier when they get older) and a home-based ministry, my life is complicated and generally over-extended. I am easily overcome by the tyranny of the urgent. I can quickly lose perspective on priorities.
When I am away, I recalibrate mentally, physically, emotionally, and most importantly, spiritually. This particular getaway provided noticeable mental and spiritual rest. I could literally feel myself decompressing. I was also able to actually think about relationships in my home in a way that brought clarity and action.
NOTE: This most definitely is not a vacation! Vacations generally involve open ended fun with the family. This however is a time alone, by yourself, focused on seeking the Lord and thinking intentionally about your spiritual walk and your relationships at home.
What follows are 15 ideas to prime your own pump on how to make a getaway like this possible for yourself—or your spouse!
- Be honest about your need for rest. It is not a weakness to admit you need to rest and reconnect with God in a way that requires getting away. Sometimes we or our relationships break before we finally listen. Even Jesus—God in human flesh—had times away from the grind to connect with his Father and to rejuvenate. If God himself needed that. How much more do we?
- Just do it. Look at the calendar with your wife and set a time to go. Frankly, this is the hardest part. We are all so busy and it is hard to commit to something like this that while important, is usually not urgent. Putting it off is the same as a decision not to do it. I put it off for over a year. I could’ve used that time but for over a year—I did not do it.
- Plan to be away for at least 2 nights. It is hard to disconnect only being gone one night. Two nights gives you one full day and possibly two partial days. I have found that the partial days on either end are not very productive because of the distractions of going and coming. Whole days are the ticket. Three nights gives you two full days which is ideal.
- Choose a hotel that you like. You may have to spend a little money but it is worth it. If the vibe is off, it will impact the effectiveness of the time away. Personally, I like Hilton’s Embassy Suites. They offer a delicious, free, made to order hot breakfast. Each suite offers a bedroom and a separate living or work area with a desk. The inside atrium style of these hotels offers a resort feel with tables and various comfortable chairs where you can read and reflect as a change of scenery from your suite. The overall vibe works well for me and puts me in a relaxed mood. But maybe camping is more your style? If so, more power to you!
- Bring your Bible, a journal, and a spiritual book to read. The Bible and a journal are essential equipment. The additional book—not so much. But it is good to take time to read something you enjoy other than your Bible. On my recent getaway, I read two books: The Daily Relaxer by Matthew McKay, and Family Discipleship by Adam Griffin. Both offered significant insights into issues I was addressing.
- Read the Word in the morning after breakfast. Set the tone by spending time with the Lord first each day. I like to choose a whole book of the Bible and read it through over and over in one sitting which I rarely if ever do this as part of my normal devotions. There just isn’t enough time. Doing this though will likely lead you to see new things in the passage. In my recent time away, I read through Colossians several times and was greatly encouraged by deeper meditation on the mystery of the Gospel which Paul addresses.
- Pray as you read the word. Pray for God’s Holy Spirit to speak to you through His word. After reading a particularly meaningful verse, pray. Ask God for understanding. Meditate on the verse. Pray some more, etc.
- Make notes and journal. As you read and pray, make notes in a journal about fresh insights, or things you want to think more about. These might be personal spiritual matters or they might be relational matters. Either way, writing them down or even journaling helps to learn, clarify, and prioritize specific matters needing further action. Note taking and journaling also provide a record that you can go back to later and evaluate your progress.
- Pre-empt distractions. It is challenging to slow down and create separation from the daily grind—even when you are away. To help with “Daily Grind Creep” have a sheet of paper ready where you can write down the things that will pop into your mind. Things like fixing the leaky sink in the kids’ bathroom or remembering to change the oil in the car. If it comes to mind, write it down so you can stay focused in reading and in prayer.
- Pray conversationally. You now have time to talk with God in elongated format. Listen to Him.
- Spend time thinking about each family member. Ask the following questions about your wife and each child: How is their walk with God? What are areas of strength that I can point out and encourage them in? What are areas of weakness where I need to help strengthen them? How am I loving my wife like Jesus? What are ways I am exasperating my children? One thing I do is try to write down identity statements that match up well with specific areas of struggle and that they can memorize and that I can pray for them to better understand.
- Enjoy yourself. This is part of resting. Do something you rarely do: watch a show you like! Or, start watching a show early enough that you don’t fall asleep before the opening credits are finished. Go outside and stare at the stars.
- Treat yourself to a nice meal. One night, I went to a hole-in-the-wall Greek restaurant where I ate seared anchovy’s and skate wings. It was a bit crazy but fun and delicious. I couldn’t help but wish my wife was there with me to enjoy it (although I don’t think the anchovies would have gone over too well.)
- Make a pact with your cell phone. Turn notifications off and silence it. Don’t get trapped playing games on your phone. I took my phone and put it under the pillow in the bedroom while I worked at the desk in the other room.
- Report back home each day. It is good to report back home once a day to share how it is going. These reports help your wife and children pray for you and also help them see that the sacrifices they’re making to make this time possible are being rewarded in your own growth and in better leadership of your home.
Leading well in the home begins with being well ourselves. Then, it requires an investiture in the lives of others that requires intentionality. But intentionality itself must be a priority. The busyness of life works against that. Time away to rest and reflect help rejuvenate us in being intentional about the right things in our own walk with the Lord and in our relationships at home.
On final thought: do not let the best be the enemy of the good. You want to do this “right” (there is no ONE right way) but for some reason it can’t be perfect so, you do nothing. A time away for a day or a time away that is not ideal in some way is better than no time away at all.
So, when are you going to take your time away?