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February 17, 2014

Why I Didn’t Write an Article about Health

…or did I?


When I was first invited to write an article for Gifted for Leadership on the topic of “health,” my initial reaction was hesitation.

It’s not that I don’t love the topic. I have long been a strong proponent of intentionality in the areas of physical, emotional, spiritual, and relational health. These areas are all interrelated. God has created us as whole persons. When one area is out of whack, the others are impacted as well. If I don’t get enough rest or don’t eat well, it affects my mood. If I have unresolved conflict in a human relationship, it troubles my soul. If I am stressed, it is difficult to experience God’s peace and my emotions will manifest themselves in physical symptoms such as sleeplessness and knotted muscles in the back of my neck.

It was precisely because I have such a strong belief in this interconnectedness, and in the need to maintain adequate margin and energy in each of these areas, that I was hesitant to write an article about it when this opportunity presented itself. The topic was great; the timing was not.

Too many times in my life, I have taken on more than I could handle, either because I thought I should in order to make others happy, or because I thought I could manage everything. I did not accept my limits. As a result, I accepted opportunities without really thinking through the ramifications to all areas of my life. After half a lifetime of trial and lots of error, I have learned to carefully weigh each opportunity in light of its impact on my life as an interconnected whole.

The invitation to write appeared in my inbox in early December. The holidays are already a busy time for most families. For a professor, ministry leader, and pastor’s wife like me, the annual flurry of activities at that time of year can easily become an overwhelming blizzard. Without even looking at my calendar, I knew I had papers to grade, spring courses to prepare, worship team rehearsals for Sunday and Christmas services, several holiday events at church, and a full schedule of seasonal parties and dinners in the weeks ahead.

All of that was in addition to my teenage sons’ activities: youth group parties, choir concerts, semester exams, basketball practices and games, and tech week and six weekend performances for a winter musical. Not to mention final Christmas shopping, baking, and preparations for a weeklong Christmas trip to visit out-of-town family. And these were the non-negotiables; I had already said no to nearly a dozen other invitations!

Not only was writing an article purely a question of whether I had enough time; by extension and interconnection, it was also a question of whether I had the emotional energy. I am an introvert. Although I am not shy or withdrawn in social settings, I do not gain emotional energy from social events. Even if I could find the time needed to write an article, I was pretty sure I would need to spend most of that time in recovery from the last event or preparation for the next one. For me, that means sleep, solitude, silence, and uncluttered space.

As I considered all these factors—time, emotional energy, mental reserves, physical toll, my unique personality and wiring, and my personal values of doing things well and not sacrificing my relationships with God or my family in the process—it became clear that I just could not add one more thing to my plate. And that is how I decided that I would not be able to write an article about health for Gifted for Leadership.

Then again, writing about how I made that decision might be helpful to readers, so it turns out that I was able to write that article after all.

Angie Ward is a mom, pastor’s wife, ministry leader, and Professor of Leadership, Education, & Discipleship at Capital Seminary & Graduate School.

Related Tags: health; self-care; limits; parenting

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