My sister, who is taking a course on herbal remedies and women’s health, told me about “adrenal fatigue” and how, for many people in our culture, the stress of life, the way we eat and our lack of sleep have essentially put our bodies into a constant state of “fight or flight”. The hormones secreted by the adrenal glands (ahem, adrenaline) are constantly pumping, furthering the problem. And while in this state, our body exerts energy to accomplish primary tasks and puts things like digestion on the back burner. What happens is that we become malnourished. We eat – even good things – but our body isn’t absorbing it into the system because the hormones rushing through it just purge it back out. Before we can really be fed, we have to stop and rest. We have to change overall patterns before we can achieve optimal health with a good nutritious diet. 

I spent the evening with a good friend discussing life and all that lies ahead of us. We chatted about dry seasons and how certain things give us the rest and the energy and the courage to move forward, but how seldom those things occur. We live in survival mode, tired, and grabbing at any little bit of inspiration that can come our way. But we don’t live nourished. 
Our spiritual bodies have been pumped full of adrenaline and we can’t get them to lie down and rest. Whatever nourishment is coming our way doesn’t get fully absorbed. We appreciate it, but it just sort of washes through us. We attend conferences with the hope that it will get us moving again, and while there we’re inspired, but it doesn’t bring the lasting change we’re craving. We try a new book study or Bible study or reading program. We vow to get up earlier, stay up later or do what it takes to connect with God – and instead end up with half-finished lessons, empty books and a heap of guilt because, again, we’re floundering instead of flourishing. 
I’ve been thinking on and praying about the hearts of many women I know. What do we need to function at our highest, to contribute our fullest gifts, to allow our souls to come to life? Obviously, everyone is different and certain things speak to some of us more than others. But I think if we look across the whole, we’ll see commonalities and patterns. 
So let’s begin where we are. What brings us life? What needs to be in place to see continual growth? Not just what makes us feel good – I’m not talking about a feast, but rather the steady diet. 
Personally I believe I need:
  • The kinds of conversations that evoked these thoughts. It means not just talking about our past week and listing the events, but rather looking into the future, perhaps how those events will shape it, but more seeking a revelation of a greater vision and our place within it. 
  • A place of focused giving outside of my homestead. My kids and home are wonderful and get the firstfruits of my time and attention. But I have a different, separate energy that needs directed somewhere. For the moment, it seems to be aimed at the unknowing women in a budding ministry at our church. It doesn’t matter what the target is, but I need to regularly serve something other than myself and my home with gifts that come natural. 
  • Regular time to myself to read, learn, contemplate and write. I’m accepting my introverted nature and trying to nurture it. I have energy for people because I spend time without them. 
  • A support system that empowers me and encourages me to seek these things out. My husband knows these places of life bring me energy so he will do nothing short of kicking me out of the house so that I will engage them. He knows it makes me a more whole person, that I bring more love into our home, more patience in dealing with our children, more energy into our relationship. Because of this, he handles bedtimes solo, he takes the kids out and about while I attend meetings and events. He’ll single parent for the weekend while I go to a conference. 
I’m curious about the common reader out there. What brings you life? What is it that when you come home your husband or sister or child says, “wow, what happened?” And if you’re not of the Christian persuasion (or you don’t really think in those terms), I’m still curious about the life-sustaining forces you seek. 
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