Signs God Tells Christians to Step Back and Take a Break

Dreading the Day:

A pattern of dreading the day is my first sign that it is time to step back and take a break. When I dread the day ahead I think to myself, “I don’t want to do it!”, “I can’t do it!”, or “It’s too much!” Life feels impossible and overwhelming. I feel unqualified, unequipped, or unprepared. I wish someone could take my place or I could just check-out.

But where does dread come from? The definition of dread is “to fear greatly” or “to feel extreme reluctance to meet or face.” It never occurred to me that fear could be the catalyst for my dread. However, the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. I feared the expectations set before me. I forgot Jesus’ words, “My grace is sufficient for you” (Matthew 12:9).

Procrastination:

Ecclesiastes 11:4 says, “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap.” Dread inevitably leads me to procrastination. I don’t start because I’m afraid I won’t do the task well enough or have time to finish it. This procrastination causes paralysis because the longer I wait to start, the more work builds up and feelings of dread continue. It’s a cycle that’s hard to break.

However, discipline helps me break the cycle. When I discipline my days by structuring them not only with times of work but also with times of rest, I don’t fear the day as much. For me, this “rest” includes getting up earlier than my family so that I have time to wake-up before the day gets started. It also includes daily prayer and Bible reading.

Inability to Focus:

A mind racing with to-do lists blocks my ability to focus. It’s hard for me to be present, I forget important information, and I can’t recall names of people easily. This is a sign that it’s time to take a break.

Proverbs 16:3 tells us, “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” If I’m honest, I do not commit my work to the Lord often enough. I put on my agenda tasks that I think I need to get done instead of tasks that the Lord has laid on my heart to do.

To help with this I sometimes do a simple exercise in the morning of praying over each part of my day. This helps me to recognize what needs to get done versus what I want to get done. It also helps me to anticipate inevitable interruptions so that I do not become agitated by them as easily.

Irritability:

Another sign that tells me I need to step back and take a break is irritability. When I feel agitated in traffic, defensive on social media, or impatient with my kids I know that I need to make some changes. Once a counselor told me that these seemingly minor irritations are misdirected coping mechanisms. For example, in my road rage, I take my anger out on strangers with whom I can get away with it (They’re in their car, and I’m in mine, so there are no repercussions.) because it’s not productive to take my anger out on my calendar and it’s more complicated to take it out on someone in my life or address it with someone I’m actually angry with.

When I catch myself in these bouts of irritability, my first response is to be quiet. It’s when I start talking that the circumstance gets worse. “A fool gives full vent to his spirit, but a wise man quietly holds it back” (Proverbs 29:11). Often times all I need is 15 minutes to be alone. This can be just sitting or sitting and reading. However, it doesn’t include scrolling on my phone. That creates more irritability. When I build small rest times like this into my day, irritability subsides.

Not Meeting Deadlines:

Another consequence of procrastination is not meeting deadlines. These can be work deadlines or simply paying bills on time. Ephesians 5:16 reminds us to make the most of our time. I try to schedule into my day small steps that will help me meet a bigger deadline goal. I also ask myself if there’s something I can take off of my calendar in order to make time for rest.

Anxiety:

Lack of rest causes my mind to spiral into many questions and unknowns. My worry morphs from not getting my daily tasks done to real fears like my children getting sick. Anxiety is a sign that I need more margin in my life. It becomes necessary to step back and spend some time on my personal health. This looks like focusing on what I can do today to be healthy for tomorrow. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34). That includes getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, moving in some way physically, and eating healthfully.

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21 thoughts on “Signs God Tells Christians to Step Back and Take a Break

  1. I literally checked off all these. Though, the “Not meeting deadline” part is not my fault entirely. I was sick with something bad last week. But I certainly met my deadline with work! But the rest, all year long plus all of last year.

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  2. Just discussed this with another blogger. Popular topic with the holidays coming. I think our emotions function as warning devices for when we’ve reached a trigger point. Trick is to slow down, we miss the smaller point that build up to a tipping point because things are so fast pace. Phones, news, people demand our time and attention and we get hooked on the adrenaline and “likes”. I think we need to slow down more and take the mental time to process our day and it’s events. If we force things to slow down you can handle more of the little moments before they trigger some of the ones mentioned.

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  3. I’ve decided to take a one day break from Instagram to pray for the 17 Christian Aid Hostages in Haiti. To be honest it may be longer because I get anxiety over some of the hate that goes on over there. Especially when someone shares Biblical truth.

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  4. I think we all fall into those categories at some point. Sometimes things cannot be prevented though. Things happen that we have no control of. We just have to ask God to show us what and how to do. Thank you for sharing. God bless you and stay safe.

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  5. We were going to attend a conference on overcoming procrastination, but decided to do it next year instead. 😂
    As for irritability in traffic, be very careful. Road Rage is very real and has real “repercussions” . . . from someone who is fortunate to have been saved from them a couple of times.
    A good technique I am discovering from a friend for avoiding these block to accomplishing what I need to get done, is to list what needs to be done Today, in Two Days, This Week, etc. Then click on the Most Important and attack that first, even if it does not seem as urgent as other items.
    Prayer for my family is always TOP of my list. As we work on those things according to their importance we will overcome the Tyranny Of The Urgent.
    ❤️&🙏, c.a.

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  6. We all have times when we feel we have to step back. There are two things I have learned in my long life. The first is never to quit, no matter how one feels. The other is to pray continually. I begin my days with a prayer for all of the people on my personal prayer list. I then turn to the prayer lists coming from the churches I attend either in person or virtually. My home church also has a twice-a-year prayer partner challenge. My assigned person gets my first prayer of the day. After I spend this first 15 minutes in prayer, I find that my feelings of inadequacy or lack of enthusiasm has passed and I will be anxious to get back to writing. Bless you.

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  7. I have rarely had one of those “unable to focus” days, but I have often prayed that if I got one of the other things you mentioned, I would cut back. Thanks for this; it was reassuring.

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  8. Thank you for clicking on JanBeek so I could find you! I can see we are kindred spirits! This post is “right on!” So full of sound spiritual advice. It is beautifully written and clearly organized, thoughtful, useful, and spirit-guided. There’s something for everybody. I especially related to “Often times all I need is 15 minutes to be alone. This can be just sitting or sitting and reading.” I do that every morning in my sanctuary, starting my day and mapping out its hours with the help of scripture and the Holy Spirit. Getting out of my environment and breaking my routine these past 3 wks as we traveled put my life in others’ hands. That’s hard for me. But I had to trust my daughter & grandsons and their good hearts and let myself be led rather than always having to 🐝 the one following MY muse! That’s part of the letting go process, too, don’t you think?

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  9. It is so easy to let our responsibilities and daily routines creep into our personal time, or worse, God’s time in our schedules. Sometimes we don’t notice at first and then we find ourselves facing one of, or all of, these things listed here. We are creatures of habit, and our habits are only as good as we make them. This is an important reminder to keep a clear focus on where our attention should be so that we can be more focused and better prepared for the day ahead.

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