Lets make a list. Pull out your notebook and a pen and start here:
I feel empty when...
I feel lonely when...
I feel overlooked when...
I feel exhausted when....
What's your theme? Mine is that I spread myself too thin. Sometimes I get so out of balance, not because there's a lot on my plate (although there is), but because I don't always take the time to care for my soul in the process. I bend towards busy. I stay up far into the night working on projects, and blog posts, and websites, and prints - and it's actually okay. I have been a night person my entire life. I'm creative at night. I'm alone at night. I get life sorted out and laid right at night.
Until I let myself swing out of balance. And then I feel empty. Lonely. Overlooked. Exhausted.
Balance is what holds us together. Investing the time and energy to connect to something other than work, or packing lunches, or picking up toys, or being always present to everyone else is what grounds us to truth.
Isn't it true that we are much more prone to self-hatred when all we see is ourselves? And aren't we more prone to focus on ourselves when we feel that we are being neglected? We become the train wreck that we just can't stop watching. We're frantically searching for clues to what the heck happened, and we're holding up traffic in the meantime.
Let's make another list.
I don't have the time for....
I could never spend money on myself to....
__________ is more important than my need to self-care.
Most women have a really hard time with self-care. It seems selfish. We feel guilty. From the moment Eve stepped out of the garden, women have been fighting to be noticed. The lie of womanhood is that we are no good if we aren't sacrificing for everyone else. Even right now, in a time when women have more freedom and respect than ever before, we still hear the whispering that we should put other people's needs before our own. Which is true of all of humanity. It's so important that we serve one another; it's imperative that we do not live isolated, self-serving lives. So hear me when I say that I am not advocating a self focused life - like I just said - that's when things get wonky. But we have to balance ourselves, sisters. We can't keep on living under the weight of life without caring for our tender souls.
It's time to recognize that part of the reason we keep buying into the lie that we aren't enough is because we're just so dang tired. We don't often take the time to process and surrender and heal, so our wounds keep building up. Someone makes a comment about how hard it's been for us to lose the baby weight and that sits on top of noticing our husband watching another woman. That squishes down next to those junior high years of being awkward and ignored. Or maybe the problem is that you've been too noticed. Maybe you've grown up with people telling you how beautiful you are; with your girlfriends making snarky comments because the boys they like keep calling you. Maybe no one noticed how smart, and funny and insecure YOU are too. So now you fight the lie that you have to keep on being beautiful, or you'll become nothing.
Now we're adults and those little thorns have become tangled roots. We stand together, some still awkward, some chubby, some skinny, some small featured, some big-boned, some with smooth skin, some with acne scars, some with easy to manage hair, some with wild and fierce hair, some tall, some short, some loud, some shy, some creative, some logical, some black and white, some technicolor, some with words, some with images, some with confidence, some with shame. But we're all women. We belong to the same tribe. We're one people and it's time for us to remember that.
We belong to each other.
Now more than ever.
And your sisters are tired. They are so tired. They've been working hard with little to no recognition. They may be living their dreams, but their dreams are exhausting. They may be coming alive, but they are going to need some rest.
Their souls are going to need to be cared for. Your soul is going to need to relinquish too.
We can do this for each other. We can push against the theme, in our culture of women, that demands a whole lot with very little return. We can serve each other by inviting one another to the table for a warm bowl of grace.
Maybe we stop rolling our eyes when she gets a pedicure instead of showing up for Bible Study. Maybe we slip a sister a gift certificate for a Starbucks, or show up for drinks or yoga just because we know she needs to talk to an adult and not drink from a sippy cup. Maybe we text our single sister some extra love when we know she's feeling the weight of loneliness. Maybe we just start showing up for each other without trying to change one another.
And maybe we allow ourselves to sit alone in a room without folding a single school uniform. Maybe we throw a frozen pizza in the oven and call it good. Maybe we let the vacuum sit in it's trusty spot for a few more days. Maybe we stop feeling guilty when we randomly, by some miracle, sleep in.
Kindness begets kindness, but judgement drains our hearts of joy. That's the biggest truth. It also might be why we are so tired. There's this thing that happens when overwhelmed, sad women walk into the same room: we start to pick each other apart, we compare ourselves to them and them to us. Our brokenness bleeds out onto everyone else, and the cycle keeps on keeping on.
So here's today's challenge... get some rest. Do something today that serves your heart. Even if it rubs against you and you feel terribly guilty, do it anyway. Sneak away into the backyard at nap time and breathe some fresh air. Put down the laundry and read a book for 20 minutes. Go for a walk all by yourself during lunch. Journal. Draw. Play with your makeup. Take a dang shower. Throw on a movie for the toddler while you plug your headphones into your iPod. Do anything that allows you to process your feelings of being too much.
And then practice that same kindness with the women in your life. It might be hard, because you may be living in a very old pattern. That's okay. Just start here. We'll do it together.