It’s an interesting season for me. Our family has been in the middle of some personal trials. I’m experienced enough to know these things come in waves. We won’t arrive at a point in life where we are exempt from hardships of some sort. God is gracious to give us both respites and endurance.
I have a history of expecting a lot of myself. Can you relate? In my 20s and through my life as a young mom in my 30s, I tended to way (way) overestimate the number of tasks I could manage while simultaneously underestimating the amount of time it would take me to do them. I also rarely, if ever, asked for help. Like a stubborn two-year-old, I would say, “I will do this myself.” That was a Molotov cocktail for burnout.
Maybe age brought wisdom. Certainly spending years studying intentional living and reclaiming my time for what matters most have added to my ability to sense when I’m in too deep and need to step back. Still, it can take me time to admit my need or even recognize it.
During this season of grief and uncertainty, I’ve been praying a lot. Yes, I already pray daily. Somehow when the fires get hotter, I’m on my knees longer. I wake each morning with my hands literally cupped, first thing. I ask God for the manna He has for me in that day. I stand like the beggar I am, clad in my pjs, trusting Him to give me just what I need for that day alone. He does. Invariably, as I turn to my Bible and devotions, or through an unexpected text from a friend, or on someone’s Instagram post, or wherever He sees fit to feed me, I receive.
It is manna because it is enough for that day. I must seek Him again each morning. About a year or so ago I found myself exercising another daily habit. As my head hit the pillow, I would softly say, “Thank you.” This happened spontaneously, like a child muttering, “I love you, Mommy,” as their drowsy lids close for the night. My thank you bubbled up and felt just right.
I didn’t purpose to say thank you daily, as my younger, overly-ambitious self would have done. I just rested in the fact that I could thank God at the end of a day no matter what had transpired. I found myself uttering gratitude nightly and it has become a heart habit of its own volition. I can’t fully convey the perspective I gain from those two small words capping off every single day. I have hard days and upside-down days. I experience bliss and stress. No matter what combination the day contained, I whisper my private prayer of thanks.
So, we’ve been sputtering through this trial, held together by God’s grace, but bleeding internally from all the emotional highs and lows. At times it has been excruciating. Other moments are surreally calm and normal. Through this season, God made it clear that He wants me to continue writing and speaking. One day during a morning when I was sitting with God, I had a clear idea He was telling me not to set aside my calling to wait for the chaos and difficulty to pass. He impressed upon me that I would have to be patient and flexible, but if I followed Him, I could continue to do what He was putting in front of me.
Slow Down, Mama!
I wrote a novella-sized non-fiction book in the fall and early winter called, “Parenting Your Teen Through Chaos and Crisis.” All that while parenting our teen through some chaos and even a bit of crisis. I have continued to faithfully blog weekly here at Hearts Homeward. God gave me the vision to write another book: “Slow Down, Mama!” and to craft an accompanying course, and develop coaching sessions as well. I have been pouring my efforts into this combo project for about a month and a half now in hopes to finish it this summer.
Meanwhile, life in our circumstances can be alternating between draining, traumatic and “normal” (whatever that is!). These past three weeks I just stopped writing on the blog. It wasn’t intentional. I simply pulled back one week and decided not to push myself to write. The next week came and I realized writing a post would be asking too much. Just this past week the same thing happened. Through this experience, I gleaned something for you.
We sometimes live as though the world needs us desperately. What will happen if we don’t show up, choose not to contribute, or even simply take a break? Well, I’ll tell you what. Usually, not much. Now, if you are the speaker at a graduation and you don’t show, that could be, um, awkward. Still, those kids will graduate. Life will go on.
What Matters Most
More importantly, if your children or your husband need you and you aren’t present for them, well now, that’s a thing. You are the only mom they have and the only wife that man has (let’s hope). We need our breaks from motherhood, but no one quite fills the gaps when we are not present for the needs of our family.
Most other obligations aren’t so life-shattering. I would bet dollars to donuts that you didn’t sit at your computer or phone scrolling your inbox awaiting news of my next blog post. Sure, you may be happy when you see it (thanks for that), but you aren’t pining away. As a matter of fact, truth be told, you probably didn’t give me a second thought.
All I want to emphasize here is that while we are vitally important to those very near to us, we aren’t as much of a key figure to those who are on the fringes of our lives. Knowing this should free you up a bit. Perspective always does that. So, when you are drowning, grab a hold of whatever keeps you afloat and take some time off. Step back. Be renewed. Then enter the mainstream and share whatever God gives you during your time away – like I’m doing today.