Kirsten Watson knows a thing or two about busyness and chaos. The wife of former NFL star Benjamin Watson, she spent 16 years living through what she described as "intense" football seasons. She's also a homeschooling mother of seven, the executive editor of MomLife Today and the co-host of a popular podcast.
As a result, she understands firsthand the power of rest — and, in her words, "taking a breath."
"It felt like when we were in the NFL … they were condensed years, but packed full of things," Watson told The Christian Post. "I think through that, God was just showing me a bunch of things about life and what was important and how much we really don't know what tomorrow holds. And what I found myself doing is kind of like not breathing … just going to the next thing, always rushing."
She continued, "I was like, 'Have I remembered any of this? Have I enjoyed any of this? Have I stopped to think, at any time, what is God showing me? What is He teaching me? Or am I just so worried about the next thing that I'm going through life and not realizing that there is so much that I may be missing?'"
Now, Watson is on a mission to encourage others to take a breath and lean into the Word of God, understanding that "when we inhale God's Word, we exhale peace." She shares what she's learned over the years in her new book, Sis, Take a Breath: Encouragement for the Woman Who's Trying to Live and Love Well (but Secretly Just Wants to Take a Nap).
"With the book, it gave me an opportunity to look back and reflect on the things that I do feel like God was teaching me, and a lot of it was when I was calm in either … a good time or a bad time, I was really growing. And that's really what you want. And I think I want more of that," she said.
"This book is really for me as much as it is for other moms and women," Watson continued. "We have so much that God has given us every day. And I think sometimes we're rushing through it, and we do not really realize all that it has to offer."
Like her husband, Watson shares stories from her life with candor, always with the purpose of encouraging others and highlighting God's faithfulness in both the good and bad times. She previously opened up about the miscarriages she suffered in 2018 to remind other women that they're not alone.
And her latest book is no different. She shares practical life hacks for "taking a breath, personal stories and relevant Scripture verses to help others live well amid the endless cycle of busyness.
For example, when she wakes up, she prays for strength to make it through the day's challenges: I pray, "I don't think I have what it takes to get through everything that has to happen,'" she said. "Lord, give me my manna for the day. I know you've provided it before; help me reflect on times when I felt this way before, and I've made it through. And Lord, I'm coming with, 'This is all I got.' My fish and my bread — you have got to multiply this."
Starting her day with prayer, she said, takes the pressure off her and helps her understand that ultimately, God is in control of the day and what it holds.
"I'm asking God to constantly show me the areas of my life that He either wants to refine or the areas of my life where He's like, 'Oh, you need me here,'" she said. "And that is happening really constantly … it really is just an ongoing inner conversation that I'm having."
Recognizing that God is ultimately in control, Watson added, is crucial for avoiding burnout: "When we do it on our own, we tend to become our own God … and that's tiring, I don't think it's sustainable. I think that's why there's burnout. … and that's why we do look to Instagram where everything looks perfect because we know in our heart of hearts that that's not really what's going on."
"It just causes this idea that, 'I am now God; it is all up to me.' And I think that's a dangerous place for believers to be in because we don't direct the attention back to where it should be."
In a society obsessed with comparison, Watson also stressed the importance of practicing wisdom when it comes to social media. A recent study showed that 88% of women said they compare themselves to images in the media, with half saying the comparison is unfavorable.
"Comparison is a stealer of joy, that's for sure," she said. "And I always tell people, if you see something that you like and you wish you had it, there are a couple of things that happen: You have to realize that you may not want that person's complete story; the part that you see is the part that you want, but you may not want the story that led up to where they are."
"I also say, 'God's given me my own lane. He's giving me my journey, my husband, my kids, my story. And I want to do my story well, and it's very hard to do my story well if I'm always comparing and contrasting."
"Our lane is specific; no one else can duplicate it," she added. "And so, if I'm so worried about being in someone else's journey, the Kingdom ultimately misses out."
In moments of doubt and comparison, Watson highlighted the importance of going back to what God's Word says about identity and value.
"When we go to God with who we are in God, who our identity is and how we are mothering and how we are as a wife, the message is always very consistent," she said.
Though there's no "one size fits all" rule regarding social media, Watson said, "the Lord has probably spoken to many of us like, 'This is too much. This is not edifying to your soul.'"
"There's still something that draws us in, and I think we have to take notice individually of what that is and know when to say yes and when to say no."
Amid the chaos, it can be difficult to focus on God's voice, Watson said — and parenting, especially for a Christian, can be "scary." But God has "equipped" parents to do exactly what their children need, she said.
"I always say, I don't want to raise a weak Christian and I don't want to have dull arrows. And so, how I do that is I make sure that they know that they will be persecuted, make sure that they know they will have trials," she said.
"My kids will be equipped when they see me standing up for truth and when they see me speaking out and not looking like the world. … I think the best way for our kids to learn is for us to make an example. If they see us in our Word, if they see us memorizing Scripture, they see us having Bible studies at our house and serving other people. That is how we change the world. And that is how we are a light."
Through her platform and her book, Watson said she hopes to encourage women and assure them that "we serve a big God that wants to know you, that wants to know you intimately, so intimately that through your breath, He is going to speak to you."
"God is always working. He is always sovereign. And we know that we have a lot to do as women; we know that we want our relationships to be healthy; we know that we want the work that we do to matter. And ultimately, we know that we are tired, and none of that we can change.
She continued, "But through our breath and understanding God is with us, we can do this journey, and we can be encouraged in our day-to-day life. … It's the encouragement to pause and say, 'God, I know you are making me more into the woman that you would have me to be through all the events that are happening in my life. So thank you for that and give me the power to be able to do that in a great way.'"
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org