I knew it was bad.
Standing in the kitchen on a Sunday afternoon, my normally 24/7, over-the-top, silly and joyful husband just looked at me with his eyes glazed over. The week prior, he’d mentioned that he hadn’t been sleeping well and his overall energy was low. The brain fog was in full effect too, causing him to make a few missteps in both his school and volunteer work that under normal circumstances he could have performed with eyes closed and arms tied behind his back.
“I’m burnt out,” he confessed to me. “I just need to get away…maybe a weekend somewhere to rest and clear my head.”
This was a 9-1-1 call and I had just answered the line. The problem though, was that I could have just as easily placed that same call.
In the six years since having kids, we’ve gone away together…zero times. Zero.
My reasons seemed perfectly legit.
We don’t have family nearby to come stay with our kids. We can’t afford it. There are other things that need our attention right now. Our schedules are too busy. All our friends are equally just as busy—asking them to help would just be a burden.
That same day, I happened to see a Facebook post from a friend in a similar situation. She and her husband had never been away from their brood of four kids. They had similar reasons that she was sharing with her therapist and friend who—after listening and nodding empathetically—responded back with, “Try harder.”
Well that seems like a bit of a gut punch. But like any good gut punch, it got my attention. It was the wake up call I needed to hear. The tough love that tells you it’s time to break a few of your rules (many of which are self-imposed), because following those rules right now aren’t doing you and those you love any favors. In fact, they’re actually hurting the situation instead of helping it.
I was having an Esther moment—and it was time to break some rules.
You see, Esther was born a Jewish exile but eventually married King Xerxes and became Queen of Persia. Around 479 B.C., a plot was devised to kill all of the Jewish people, however Mordecai, who was a cousin to Esther but raised her as a father, caught wind of the plot and shared it with her.
In order to save the Jewish people—including herself—from total annihilation, Esther would have to petition the king. And that meant breaking some rules. Big ones. Anyone who approached the king’s inner court without being invited or summoned by him would be put to death unless the king extended his gold scepter toward them, thus sparing their life.
That’s not exactly a rule you want to break.
Esther reminded Mordecai of this rule, to which he responded, “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” (Esther 4:13-14).
Allow me to paraphrase:
Esther: I can’t do it. I’ll die.
Mordecai: Try harder.
That’s a gut punch, folks. Her reasons for saying no were legit. The rules were legit. But in this case, the consequences of breaking said rules far outweighed the benefits of upholding them.
And this is my point, friends. While we may not be facing a literal life or death situation or carry the fate of an entire people group on our shoulders like Esther did, nonetheless our decisions hold weight. Both the rules we live by and the ones we break have an impact on ourselves and on others. What we need is the wisdom to know when to choose the breaking over the following.
What we need are more Mordecais in our life. More friends, family members, or therapists who can speak into our lives and wisely encourage us to take a step into that “inner court” we’re hesitant to go into. The court of our rules, our reasons, and our excuses. The court that we fear will bring us death if we disobey or break the rules, when in fact it may stand ready to offer us life, blessings, and rewards.
Esther’s step of faith was rewarded. The king extended his scepter and saved her life, which in turn allowed her to save the lives of her people. She understood the risks and sacrifice involved. She understood the opportunity that lay before her. And she understood that in that moment, it was time to break the rules for the greater good.
And so did I.
Shortly after that Sunday afternoon conversation, I took a step of faith. I booked a weekend getaway for me and my husband, knowing that we desperately needed it even if our bank account didn’t agree. I reached out to a friend for help watching our kids, fully expecting an “I’m sorry, we just can’t,” and instead receiving the most enthusiastic and gracious, “Yes, we would love too!” A golden scepter had been extended to me and I was overwhelmed with tears of gratitude and relief.
I broke a few of my rules that day for the greater good—pursuing what seemed like the impossible for so many reasons to seize an opportunity to restore our souls, nurture our relationship, and exit the weekend as better parents than when we went in.
Maybe the “inner court” you’re up against is not one of self-care and relationships but stepping out in faith to pursue a passion, a career, a ministry, or a purpose. You’re weighing all the reasons why you shouldn’t do it with the one reason why you should.
Wherever you’re at friend, my encouragement to you is this: find your Mordecai, seek out wisdom, and then boldly and prayerfully step into that inner court. It’s time to break some rules for the greater good.