And the principle of diminishing returns…
Farmers have known for centuries that eventually the land becomes depleted after supporting crops for an extended period of time. Nutrients from the soil grow up into the plants and down into their roots, until the soil itself is left empty of the elements needed to support vegetation. In order to renew the soil, the farmer moves crops to another spot, leaving the exhausted one fallow for a time so that it can recover.
People are like that, too. YOU are like that. So am I.
Sometimes we need to lie fallow for a season. Our emotional soil has sustained everyone around us for so long that our nutrients become depleted, leaving little to fuel us for our own lives, much less to feed into the lives of others. We are dry and empty.
Every now and then, we need to take some time and space to allow our own souls and hearts to be replenished, renewed, restored. A season of stillness and self-care, however brief, can pour back into us the nourishment we need and crave…and deserve. It is OK to receive, to absorb, and to recover. It is not only OK, it is vital, and the more exhausted we are, the more important it is to allow ourselves the time and space to rest.
We cannot grow ourselves or anyone else until we renew our soil, and sometimes in order to renew…we need to lie Fallow.
…if you’re not OK…
Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and I understand how hard your year has been, truly. Mine has had its moments of sadness, frustration, pain and doubts too. While most people seem to be overjoyed at the prospect of having a long weekend, pigging out on turkey and dressing, ham and mac & cheese, eating, drinking and being merry, you might not be feeling so festive right now. Neither am I.
And that’s OK.
We can be thankful and still feel sad sometimes. We can appreciate our blessings while mourning our losses. In fact, I think the losses sometimes make our blessings seem more precious, because we realize how quickly those blessings can be taken from us.
I had friends die this year, people I loved while they were here and continue to love now that they are in Heaven. I know people you love have died this year too, and this will be the first Thanksgiving that a loved one’s place at the table will be empty. You might cry. I might cry.
And that’s OK too.
I hope that your tears are softened by laughter as you remember your loved one, the good times you shared together and the many Thanksgiving meals you put away. I hope the hole left in your family circle is closed up a little bit as the rest of you draw closer together to try and fill in that space. I hope you can take a few minutes to be alone, if you need to…to breathe deeply, to pray and to give thanks even in the midst of sadness.
And I hope you know that no one is expecting you to be perfect, to put out a flawless meal or to re-create that Norman Rockwell fantasy holiday. Be real with your loved ones. Tell them if you’re having a hard time. Share your heart with them.
(Me and Aunt Ruby, Thanksgiving 2012. We had no way of knowing it would be her last Thanksgiving with us. Now she sits at Jesus’s table, feasting on His goodness and waiting for the rest of us to arrive.)