5 Ways to Rest from Bearing the Family's Emotional Burdens

mom homeschooling with frustrated kid

5 Ways to Rest from Bearing the Family's Emotional Burdens

For the longest time, I had no idea how to rest because I’d never sat still long enough to process what rest might feel like. But when 2020 happened, learning to rest became my only option.

If Jesus was physically present in my house, it’s likely that He’d accidentally end up tossed in my dryer and thrown on the de-wrinkle cycle.


Most days, my life feels like it’s spinning and flipping, tossing and turning. I’m "balancing” a nine-hour workday while trying to remember if I fed the dogs, set out the meat to thaw for dinner, and read at least half a Bible verse. Often, life is hectic, and my head is always crammed, but what throws my heart out of whack is when I forget how to emotionally handle the day-to-day routine, when I want to rest but don’t actually know how to rest.

For the longest time, I had no idea how to rest because I’d never sat still long enough to process what rest might feel like. No doubt rest is freeing for the mind, body, and spirit, but as the 2020 theme goes, life knocked me on my back and left me no room to get up and go, go, go. Learning to rest became my only option.

My husband was a newbie pilot at the beginning of 2020. He’d just completed his certifications and had a nice starter job as a flight instructor. No shocker, Covid wiped out his job and cut our income in half. Financial burdens are rough, but their weight comes from the emotional toll they take on your heart. A few months later, I had reached such a shallow, dry place that I was willing to do anything to get a grip on my head and heart.

In all reality, life had to go on. I still had to do the chores, pay the bills, and be the emotional support my husband needed. This is hard stuff to do well when you feel like you’re treading water, but here are five ways to rest while carrying the emotional household burden:

1. Stay Active (Ironic, right?)

Before the drama of a nasty back injury, I was a personal trainer. I was the girl who ran miles and miles a day, swore off bread (which is never happening again), and wouldn’t settle for anything less than three rounds of ab exercises every night before bed (which is never happening again, either). Lots of those habits went down the drain years ago, but one thing I’ll forever preach from my gym days it that if you will force yourself to move, especially when you’re mentally drained, you’ll feel better. God created this sort of crafty reverse psychology so our mind, body, and spirit can connect.

When you take the time to go for a walk, plant some flowers, or even rearrange a room, your body starts to tell your head that you’re making progress, that you’re doing the good things, that you’re alive and functioning, and then, your head tells your heart that your day is going much, much better than you expected.

Physically, you’re up and moving, but emotionally, you’re giving yourself room to rest.

2. Learn to Say “No” (Awkward, right?)

You are not Jesus, which means you cannot do all the things and do all the things well. The ball will drop somewhere, and most of the time, if you’re like me, you end up crumpled on the bathroom floor crying because your poor, innocent-minded husband thinks you have the free time to mate his black socks according to how much they have or haven’t faded.

You have the right to say no to things—even church things. Granted, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t be involved in the Body of Christ. That’s kinda the one job we were given, but even Jesus didn’t mean for you to live a life that’s propelled by exhaustive checklists completed for the sake of the steeple.

When I was in college, I started playing the piano for our worship team. Then, I was recruited to work with the youth group, hosting Bible studies and going on youth trips. Then, I was also recruited to film the announcement videos for Sunday service each week. I kept saying “yes” because I thought that was always the Christian answer to Christian jobs in the church, but honestly, two years into balancing all of these things, my servant’s heart grew tired. And when you grow tired, if you don’t guard your heart, you grow bitter.

Take it from me and save your emotions. Don’t end up on the bathroom floor. Don’t agree to mate your husband’s socks according to their fade patterns.

Just. Say. No.

3. Go on a Coffee Date (Fun, right?)

Not to enter a theological debate around the idea of self-care, but what I’ve learned from Scripture is that if Jesus attended weddings, crashed synagogues, and had a knack for showing up at dinner parties (and even hosting them), then I think it’s safe to say that we are allowed to carve out some fun time for ourselves, no?

Jesus was and still is all about relationships and fellowship, but if we are so focused on constantly making sure that everything and everyone around us are running on all cylinders, we’ll malfunction fast.

Sure, you should always look out for and encourage family, friends, believers, but there’s a reason that when God was passing out the title Sustainer, He skipped over you and gave it to Jesus.

You can’t sustain what you didn’t create, what you can’t love perfectly. But Jesus can. Let God do the God things. Let yourself love as much as you can, but learn to recognize when it’s your turn for a de-stressing coffee date.

4. Embrace Vulnerability (H A R D, right?)

For a while, I was one of those tough girls who saw vulnerability as weakness. I’d been hurt by people before, so vulnerability also looked like an easy way for someone to pour salt on all my unhealed wounds. And I wasn’t about that.

But last November, I was balancing a new job, in a new town, all by myself. My husband was away earning necessary flight hours, and I just wasn’t handling life like a pro. I was angry crying all the time because my headspace was so clogged.

Eventually, I did the really hard thing and made an appointment with a therapist. Like, the therapist where you sit on the couch and drink hot green tea and cry. The whole kitten caboodle.

Turns out, I was diagnosed with clinical Intrusive Thought Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Taking on the label of mentally inept sounds miserable, and it’s definitely no cake walk, but the emotional and mental tornado instantly subsided because I realized that I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t whiny, I was just someone who needed clinical help for my head.

And when I was vulnerable, when I opened up and unearthed all the deep-rooted, nasty stuff in my head and heart, facing life was significantly easier. Sitting, resting in the quiet was finally doable too.

5. Give Grace (Even H A R D E R, right?)

When it’s that time of the month and your emotions and hormones are on edge, you automatically want people to give you grace. You want them to understand why you snapped, why you cried, why you just ate two tubs of ice cream without coming up for air. You want people to accept you and walk with you when you don’t even feel like you because life is just uncomfortable and hard.

If you want freedom within your own emotional breakdowns, crises, meltdowns, then you have to give that grace to everyone else.

It’s not always easy. Lord knows that ninety-percent of the time, I’m praying for certain people through gritted teeth, but when we give others the freedom to feel what they’re feeling and bear crawl through their own trenches, then we give God room to free us of our own muck.

We don’t give bitterness the time to settle. We don’t give anger time to boil up. We just give grace and get grace, give grace and get grace, and the beautiful cycle keeps our hearts wide open for all the good things—like the peace that comes when our soul can rest in God.

I’m not saying that you’ll always ace these steps, or that you’ll never have a setback day, but if you actively give your body, mind, and others the grace to feel things (and even mess up things), God can take the reins and drive while you sit in the back seat and take a nap.

Photo Credit: © Getty Images/DragonImages

Peyton Garland is an author who uses her OCD, disdain for legalism, and obsession with Jesus rap to showcase just how good God's goodness is. She lives in the Atlanta suburbs with her boo, Josh, and their two furry babes, Alfie and Daisy.

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