Take an emotion sabbatical

Table of Contents

I’m taking an emotion sabbatical. Said another way, ” I’m giving my emotions a rest, especially about people or circumstances which I can’t change.

“For how long?”, you ask.

I think for forever.

Don’t need a crisis

It’s not because there’s been an “incident” or anything like that. It’s because I’m taking a page out of my own book.

picture of book/Depression

You know what I mean, don’t you? We’re all better at giving advice than taking it ourselves. Even when you’re the author. I listened to a great sermon today by Andy Stanley and he often used himself as an example. It’s hard to see ourselves sometimes.

Need to let others be responsible

I’m taking an I’m-not-your-Savior-break. To me, that’s the best definition of an emotion sabbatical. I am through being responsible for anyone else’s spiritual, mental. or emotional health. Because I can’t be, number one, and number two, because Jesus never said I should. Jesus himself didn’t. Jesus told others how to be healthy in all areas of their lives but was never responsible for how they used the information. In some ways, I find that disconcerting because I want him to be responsible, in my case anyway.

I mean, don’t you? We all do. Wouldn’t you love it if someone else were responsible for all aspects of your health?

Get permission first

I am NOT suggesting we don’t help people by giving them our best advice. But truly, unless someone asks for your opinion, they are not interested in it anyway. Because if they were, they would ask for it.

Haven’t you ever been on the other side? You might have just been wanting to talk something through and come to your own conclusions, and then someone interrupts to give you their opinion, and your whole thought process gets sidetracked. You feel angry because you just wanted someone to bounce your thoughts off.

BUT, there is also that person who does ask for your opinion and then gets mad when you give it because they don’t like what they’re hearing. That’s why these next two points are important. If we’re engaged in a conversation where there is give and take, it is fine, maybe even necessary, to voice our opinion. But it might not be a bad idea to ask, “Would you like my opinion?” Asking does two things:

  1. Having been given permission, means we can be honest.
  2. Having been given permission means that if the opinion isn’t well-received, we can refer back to the permission we were given.

Because I’ve been the “rescuer” way too many times, I know what I am talking about and I am relieved to say, I think I’ve learned my lesson. It only took me a lifetime, I might add. But before you feel superior, you might want to ask yourself if you’ve learned your own lesson.

Speaking truth is important

And just because you’ve never faced this dilemma, it might be because you’ve always avoided speaking from your heart when someone has asked for your opinion. There are those who have never disagreed or confronted anyone, not because they’re so good at this, but because they’ve never dared speak the truth. That is not a lesson learned; that’s a lesson never learned.

Jesus spoke the truth always, sometimes in direct response to questions, sometimes not. But when he spoke the truth, he simply stated facts and let the proverbial chips fall where they may.

When you ARE truth, it’s easy. When you are human like the rest of us, it’s very hard to speak the truth and let it do what truth does, piercing through our lies and defenses.

But are there times when you have to speak up whether given permission or not? One does NOT take an emotion sabbatical at these times. If someone is about to make a life or death decision, yes. This is Suicide Prevention Week. It is always right to speak up if it means saving a person’s life.

Speaking up isn’t always just words, either. It may mean action. Years ago, I was faced with a dilemma. A young man I knew was threatening suicide. I had no choice but to take action because his parents were living elsewhere and couldn’t do what needed to be done. They approved what I suggested. I have never once regretted my action that day.

Whatever I write about taking this emotional sabbatical, is tempered when someone’s physical safety is jeopardized. Remember, I am referring to everyday living, not the rare circumstance.

Finding your purpose

As I write in my next book, we will never find our more (God’s unique purpose for each individual) when we are always helping others search for theirs. It is good to help people. We are commanded to but we are not commanded to do all the work for them or neglect our own spiritual, mental, and emotional health.

In my first book, I mentioned that anxiety can be a problem for me when I feel overwhelmed. And very often that feeling has been the result of taking on the burdens of others when I shouldn’t have. That burden took different forms. Sometimes it might have been in the “doing” for others, but often it was just the worry. Sometimes I worried for other people about things they didn’t worry about at all!

(Please tell me I’m not the only one.)

So how does taking an emotion sabbatical look like?

I don’t know what one is supposed to look like, or even if there is such a thing. But I’ve decided I’m having one and tomorrow I will share what that is looking like for me. This is new to me as well so if you have suggestions please share them with me.

God bless and have a great day.