When I was a toddler, my Dad was raising mourning doves up on the hill behind our house in a little cinder block building with chicken wire over the open windows. We called it the dove cage. Dad would come in from tending the doves and play with us kids, hug on us, tickle us and such. Little did we know at the time that this was causing me to have trouble breathing.
At 2 years old, I almost died from asthma. It took them a while to determine that I was allergic to birds. Dad released the doves into the woods on the hill, so that they could still be near but he would no longer be the one to care for them.
Over the years, we would always hearing their cooing as they resided in the trees around our home. It was a comforting sound and one that became associated with the memories of home.
When my husband, kids, and I moved into our home 12 years ago, we realized we had doves who would perch on our chimney and the electric wire in front of our house. The cooing was such a welcome sound and a reminder of my Dad, who passed away when I was 20. Now, every year when they return from the winter, my heart is warmed by their sweet sounds and I am always drawn back in my memory to my childhood. I get a sense of my Dad’s presence, though he’s been in Heaven for 26 years.
Even more comforting is the reminder of God’s Spirit, His presence in my life. I would be lost without Him living within my heart, without His guidance and comfort. How thankful I am for these tangible reminders of both my Earthly and my Heavenly Father.
Do you ever feel completely overwhelmed with all the little things of life? There are times when I feel there is a little girl inside of me, kicking and screaming, saying “no, I don’t want to do it”. Then there is the adult me that is just pushing through to take care of the responsibilities that lie before me. All I want to do at that point is sit and read or watch TV, seemingly “resting”, but actually it’s just avoiding the inevitible. It feels like paralysis, this inner war between the me that is needing to be taken care of and the me that needs to take care of life. I think I eat and watch TV as a way of rebellion that gives the little girl what she “wants”, but in reality it’s never really what she, or the adult me, needs.
We do have to learn to find a balance between life’s responsibilities and caring for ourselves. If we aren’t taking care of our own needs, then we can’t be the people we need to be for the demands in our lives. God’s Word tells us to “love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as we love ourselves.” We must all infer from this command that we are to love ourselves, thus the need to care for our own needs. We need to sleep well, eat right, get adequate exercise, pay attention to our relationships, follow the calling God has for our lives, and spend quality time with Him in prayer and His Word. These are all life-giving to us. There are also some activities we should avoid or limit in our lives because they are life-taking from us.
I’ve had to learn what actions in my life are life-giving vs. life-taking. If there isn’t a balance, obviously, the account of my life gets overdrawn and needs some deposits. Sometimes, it’s out of balance the other way, and then I know that there need to be more withdrawals, which would mean service to others. Finding this balance is individualized for each of God’s children, and sometimes it still alludes me. Learning to recognize the crisis within, the war between the different parts of myself, is a helpful indicator that something is out of balance. I’m still learning how to address this, but God is gracious and patient with me as I learn.