By Esther Goetz
God's Brave Women - Esther's Story
Driven. Workaholic. Adrenaline junkie. Type A. 24/7. Savior of the world (or at least my world).
All of these and more. That was me.
Until I wasn’t. Until I was stopped.
Stopped. Key word. Stopped. Everything stopped. This mom of four, wife of one, ministry leader, job holder, keeper of an ordered house, ducks-in-a-row, mover and shaker stopped.
Little did I know then, but a terrible and precious gift had been given to me that changed my world: the word STOP.
After this emergency “stop” in my life (which came as a complete nervous breakdown… the summer where my four kids ate goldfish for breakfast and watched endless amounts of TV instead of the completing the summer transition homework I usually planned for them… it might have been their best summer ever), I began to question the value of this word.
Was there room for me to rest, take a break, actually stop? Would the world I carefully crafted fall apart without me?
"Was there room for me to rest,
take a break, actually stop? Would the world I carefully crafted
fall apart without me?"
I wasn’t sure. For so long, I had worked and solved and rushed and moved. Fear gripped me as I even dared to wonder.
At the same time, I never wanted that “stop” again. It had been horrible, filled with anxiety, panic attacks, and sheer dread. I was desperate to do something, anything for my parched and exhausted soul.
With fear strangling me from the inside out, a soft brave Voice kept wooing me to something different, something scary, yet satiating and life-giving.
Words like “sabbath” and “margin” kept popping up and I came across a book I avidly read, “24/6: A Prescription for a Healthier, Happier Life” by Matthew Sleeth. The author is a former emergency room physician (can’t get any more important or busier) about how his life was transformed physically, spiritually, relationally and emotionally in his “always-on” world by adopting the practice of sabbath (which literally means “STOP” in Hebrew).
My dehydrated soul drank every word in, giving me a thirst to know and explore more.
I came away with a glimmer of hope, yet still with an anxious heart.
Can I work 24/6 and rest 24/1? Do I even have permission? WHAT WILL HAPPEN IF I DO?
These questions haunted me in all the good, loving, Holy-Spirit-speaking-to-me, ways!
I'm not going to lie. I was petrified!
But I had to do something. Start somewhere.
I began with baby steps, only 6 hours, the time the kids were in school.
It was NOT easy.
My anxiety skyrocketed as I closed the laundry room door, shut off my phone and accomplished nothing. I was sure my world would come crashing down.
Guess what? It didn’t. I literally took naps and did nothing of any consequence.
As a result (wait for it), nothing changed on the outside. Bills were still paid. Kids were still fed. Friends still loved me. Jobs got done.
"As a result (wait for it), nothing changed on the outside. Bills were still paid. Kids were still fed. Friends still loved me. Jobs got done. However, much began to change on the inside."
However, much began to change on the inside. Being allowed to be off-duty encouraged me. Saying “no” to my kids empowered me. The rest I so desperately needed calmed my adrenaline-addicted body. I enjoyed every moment of this “sabbath,” not wanting it to end. I needed to replace the sips of healing with the courageous plunge into the deep and good waters of restoration.
Being the recovering work-a-holic that I still am, I knew it had to be drastic. I drew a line in the sand: 24 HOURS. STOP. EVERY WEEK.
More anxiety came with this next step. No change in my outside world once again. Much more change on the inside. This human doing began to give room for a human being.
"This human doing began to give room for a human being."
It’s been TEN whole years. TEN.
Sometimes, there are weeks when I miss, because of circumstances supposedly beyond my control (and my people will tell you I get a bit cranky).
Other times, I am still edgy, worried and fretful about all the tasks and problems that seem to jump into my life and my lap, and I struggle to "shut the laundry room door."
But God gently nudges me toward true bravery and I take that very first step all over again, taking a super size "sabbath" drink from the well of 24/1.
"God gently nudges me toward true bravery and I take that very first step all over again, taking a super size "sabbath" drink from the well of 24/1."
Many questions have been asked time and again:
• What do you do all day?
• How does everything get done?
• Isn’t that legalistic?
• Do you watch TV?
• What if I have kids?
• What do I have to stop doing? Gardening? Painting? Social media?
• Does it have to be a full 24 hours?
Of course, I don't have all the answers, but I know it’s not a quick, change-in-a-moment kind of thing. It’s a heart-wrenching, life-time haul, slow-moving, one small act of courage kind of thing.
For now, I leave you with three of the many small gifts that I have received from my 24/6 adventure:
• The world goes on without me and I don’t have to be the savior of it (even in crazy, fast-paced, over-the-top culture).
• I have room for not “shoulding” all over myself for one 24-hour period.
• I am never going back.
At the start of this journey, I nervously asked, “What will happen if I do?”
Now I ask a much different question (and have experienced the answer to it), “What will happen if I don’t?”
Brave Woman Manifesto
Make sure to check back next week as another courageous Sister shares her story!
And by the way...
You are Brave!
No matter what you are facing, God has made you in His image, which means you are full of His strength and power. I would love to connect with you more and give you a FREE gift - the BRAVE WOMAN MANIFESTO: Five Things to Tell Yourself When Life Gets Hard. Click HERE to sign up for my monthly newsletter and you’ll receive the FREE Manifesto, as well as recent blog posts, updated resources and personal details delivered only to my lovely email tribe.
AS A BONUS… Subscribers will also be the first to receive news regarding the BRAVE WOMEN BIBLE STUDY coming out later this year and a sample chapter! *insert happy dance here* SIGN UP for more info on the study’s release and availability!
Esther is a wife to one and a mom to four grown children (ages 20-28). She was born a missionary kid in war-torn Ethiopia, but has become a very average, American, Christian wife and mom who has a fierce passion for marriage and family. She’s a little snarky, a little sappy, a little strong and hopefully more than a little Spirit-led. She’s been driven to her knees in prayer and to raise her hands in praise. She’s speaks words of hope and wisdom where the heart meets the home and faith touches the family.
She would love to connect more with you over at www.estherjoygoetz.com, and you can sign up to receive her encouraging blog posts straight to your inbox HERE. She also posts regularly on Facebook and Instagram.