As someone in the field of education – I can proudly say we finally hit the finish line at the end of May. The 2020-2021 school year was brought to a close! I can assure you – everyone associated directly or indirectly with education does not “get all summer off.” However, we do get some quality time off.
I wanted to share something profound with my staff as we briefly met on our last work day of the school year. I couldn’t come up with anything. Though sincere, I didn’t want one more time of “thanking everyone for the sacrifices you made”, rehash how tough COVID has been, or try to pretend to comprehend the depth of loss so many have experienced this year.
I came across a newsletter from April 2021 that said exactly what I wanted to say. It is from author John Eldredge, from the Wild at Heart ministry. The condensed version is below:
We are now emerging, in some places sooner than others, from a year of global trauma. Your soul (mind, will, and emotions) needs some tending to.
And to be clear, it has been trauma. To be robbed of your normal routine for months upon months; to be kept in a state of uncertainty; to face serial disappointments large and small; to be bombarded by bad news; to face death; and never clear on when the finish line would appear. May I point out that this is exactly what is done to prisoners under interrogation, when their captors want to break them down?! The past twelve months have been rough on our humanity.
Now is the time to begin planning for your recovery. Because you are now, or soon will be entering, the phase of rehab and recovery.
Oh yes – there will be joy in simply going out to dinner, watching your kids play sports, seeing your family face-to-face, going to church, ball games, concerts. It will be lovely. May all those things come to you by summer!
But simply getting a hot dog at a baseball game, or going to a movie is not sufficient to address the trauma you have been through. So what I’m recommending is that you begin to map out for yourself a “rehab and recovery plan” for your soul.
For example, most of us have done a pretty good job of “rallying” over the past year, and congratulations for it. Well done, everyone! Good job! but rallying for months and months required tapping deeply into our reserves, and they are tapped out. Don’t think so? Feel like that’s just for others? How would you feel if I told you another pandemic is coming next month, and we are starting all over? I bet the very thought of it takes you to the brink. There’s not a lot left in the reserve tank.
Now, in order to replenish your reserves, you need a period of time where more is coming “in” than is going “out.” That’s the simple math. You can’t replenish your reserves if you are still spending 100% or more in your weekly output. This is why, for most people, vacations are so wonderful.
I hope you’ll give some careful thought as to how you’ll be spending your vacation time this year. It’s an important part of your recovery plan. But it’s only a part, dear friends. One or two weeks off is not going to address the harm your soul has been through over the course of an entire, unprecedented year of global tension, lockdown, and loss.
We need simple rest; working in the garden; sunsets on the deck; picnics and swimming – things that are close at hand and don’t require major effort to get to the joyful parts. More coming in than is going out. My sons call it the “Cost to Joy Ratio.”
Every outing, adventure, party, vacation, and undertaking has a cost to it. The question you want to ask is this: Does the joy that the event brings you outweigh the cost it requires to make it happen? Is more coming in than is going out? (If you need a vacation to recover from your vacation, you’ve got the cost/joy ratio all wrong!) This is important to consider anytime, but essential to think through in a year like this when we are all recovering from global trauma and need to take our recovery plan seriously.
Here’s what we can do:
Give yourself several opportunities in the next few weeks to sit down with a pad of paper and just noodle on the idea of a recovery plan. You know yourself – what would you recommend if you were counseling you over a three month recovery plan for your soul? How would you arrange for periods where more is coming in than is going out?
Just like with goals – there is so much more power and accountability when we write our intentions down. It can be as simple as a bullet point list. Maybe you’re like me in that often I feel guilty relaxing. I’m still learning the value of how to do nothing – and that’s okay. If my “to do” list doesn’t get completed – that’s okay. And if I binge watch Cobra Kai instead of doing a stack of dishes and take out the trash . . . well . . . oops . . . that’s not okay. 🙂 🙂 🙂
Be still . . . and know that I am God. (Psalm 46: 10)