How has your week been? If I had to summarize my week, I think it would be a mixture of working hard to finish projects, fighting spiritual battles, and balancing my time/energy to give my foster daughters all the attention they deserve. I’ve had some great days this week and some pretty overwhelming ones too.
My friend Sarah and I met for breakfast yesterday, and we talked more about how I’m adjusting to being a foster mom. I just wanted to talk about my girls, but she asked, “Mary, what are you doing to take care of you? There is such a thing as secondhand trauma.” As my friend, she wanted to make sure I wouldn’t run myself ragged; she wanted to remind me to give myself space to process my emotions.
I made a mental note to google “secondhand trauma” (which can also be termed as “compassion fatigue”). Then I told Sarah a few of the things I’m being purposeful to do to keep myself grounded:
Last night I realized that I had forgotten to tell Sarah something else that is an important part of the rhythm of my days. It’s my habit of taking a few minutes almost every day in the middle of the day to pray through the Lord’s Prayer. Many pastors and leaders suggest using The Lord’s Prayer as a guide for our prayer time, and so about 5 or 6 years ago, I started this practice. I actually wrote about this in chapter 16 in my book when I share some stories of feeling overwhelmed with my responsibilities.
When possible, I sit in a room by myself to pray. This spiritual exercise is especially helpful to me when I’m feeling overwhelmed. If my mind is too frazzled to think of what to pray (which is more often than not), then, as I mentioned, I pray through the Lord’s Prayer.
I don’t feel guilty for taking this time to hide away. It’s amazing how much good those ten minutes can do for my soul. My mind fixes on God again, and I feel calmer and more confident.
The Lord’s Prayer
Here’s how I like to break down my prayer time:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name.” I stop and thank God that He is my Father, that He is holy, that He reigns over everything, that He is powerful and loving.
“Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” I pause and ask God to do His will in the specific circumstances I’m facing that day.
“Give us today our daily bread.” This line reminds me to ask God for things I need. I pray that He will provide the specific things I need to do His will that day. I might pray that He provides me with strength and energy. I might pray that He provides me with the volunteers we need.
“Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors.” I take time to confess any sins, to come clean before God and ask for His forgiveness.
“Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” I pause to pray that God would lead me away from temptation and that He would protect me from spiritual attack.
“For Thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever. Amen.” I usually repeat this—declare this—a few times as I get up from my seat and walk back to my work.
I believe God honors these times when we pause to pray. And I have found that it’s in these moments that I often hear God speak to me or give me direction with what I’m working on. I pray that you might have a similar experience with this exercise. I pray that you and I will be purposeful to take care of ourselves so we can continue to care for others--so #WeWontShrinkBack.
Mary works at Brookville Road Community Church, where she leads children's ministry and women's ministry. She is the author of She Won't Shrink Back: A Story of Building & Believing.