Retreat, Recharge, and Refocus

(Photo by Selma Komisky)

Retreat, Recharge, and Refocus
Encouragement For Busy Bee’s 

By Jehn Kubiak

Taking time off work might seem easy for some, but for workaholics, it’s pretty much the end of the world. We’re just not doing enough. That’s exactly how I felt this past month, when I made the decision to take some time off work. Of course, I’m not taking a complete vacation––but I’m working closer part-time, rather than full-time, this month. Hearing that might shock some who know me well: you’re going from 45-50 hours a week to 20-25? Yes, I am.

Following a buildup of various frustrations and a month of PTSD flashbacks, my mind suffered from immense overthinking. I questioned whether or not I could trust any single person I talked to––even people I know well. I wondered if things would ever get better, or if people really even care how I felt at all. Eventually, I noticed that all of these intense feelings hindered my ability to be the strong, stable, sedulous employee that people know me as; I constantly felt discouraged, disappointed, and defective.

Due to this, I knew I was stuck in a rut that would be hard to get out of if I could only see the details instead of the bigger picture. If you read my article from last month, then you may recall how I like approaching conflict first by retreating from it, and then confronting it; I believe that avoiding your problems, for some time, can prove beneficial. Why? It provides mental space to process everything in one’s life.

If you’re constantly surrounded by the problem that’s bothering you, then it’s hard to see things for what they are and make informed decisions. For those who are dating or married, think about a time when you had a fight with your special someone and made up. For those who are single, think about a time when you had a fight with a best friend and made up. In either situation, there was probably a point in time where it felt like “I give up” was all you wanted to say during that tough time. However, after some space from each other, it’s possible that the hard feelings died down, and both of you remembered why you love each other.

Just like in relationship situations, there may be things in life that we just love––work is my thing. I have to admit that taking time off has definitely not been easy. Here-or-there, I covered a couple shifts for people because I wanted to help out. However, I have also said “no” to shifts I could have worked because I know that this time-off is necessary for me to think clearly in the long haul.

Rest and retreat are such oft-overlooked things in life, as one of my previous Spiritual Formation professors at Biola University’s school of theology said. Sometimes, it’s because we’re focused on distractions (entertainment), but even good things can hinder us from engaging in these practices (family, work, exercise, etc;). Even so, once you’ve done these things, you’ll realize how valuable they are.

Taking these observations into account, that’s probably why some important biblical figures spent time in solitude. In addition to mental and physical rest, the practice of retreat can recharge spiritual batteries. It’s during those slow times, away from all the “noise,” that we hear God’s voice best and can receive the answers to questions about aggravating situations. That mental rest also allows us to shift perspectives and refocus on the positives.

“Be still and know that I am God”

Psalm 46:10a

Those who are familiar with or have read through the four gospels may recall how Jesus often “withdrew” to spend time with his father. I’m sure the disciples constantly asked, “Where is Jesus now?” At the time, this may have seemed unusual. It may even seem unusual in today’s times––who actually can sit still and avoid responsibilities for that long? But if you think about it, Jesus was a very busy man during his ministry, and he probably was tired or overwhelmed: things that many people can identify with, especially in the current state of this world.

After taking some time off these past three weeks, I’ve started to notice some changes in my life. I eat more than one meal a day and generally sleep better. I stop obsessing over my value as an employee and focus more on how I can help others around me, anywhere I go, in small ways. I worry less about my future, specifically how soon I’ll snag that dream aquatics director position, and try to enjoy teaching swim or lifeguarding like I always have. Saying “no” to people has been quite the struggle, but at the same time, I feel like these insurmountable problems I once had are now superable.