Today was a long day. Not like an ahh, relaxing summer kind of long day, but like an I’ve been working to the bone since the crack of dawn kind of long day. I spent hours and hours working on an over 25 page research project in between caring for kids and doing normal household things.
Besides that, I’ve just been in such a funk lately! I’ve been feeling sick for about five days now. I’ve been frustrated about my sudden and unexplainable weight gain. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed with the grandeur of my doctoral program research, reading, and writing tasks, and all around pent-up about life. I’m tired of coronavirus being a thing, I wish I knew how to solve the political and social issues our society is struggling with, and I just want unlimited funds, okay? And world peace!
Besides all this, I can’t remember the last time I just had enough margin in my schedule and my life to freely do the things I love: blogging, journaling, writing, painting, musicing (yes, that can be a verb!).
As I edged closer to finishing my project this evening, I decided to place a Drive Up order for Target to get some epsom salts and kettle chips. All I wanted to do was turn in my project and sink into a salty, fragrant tub with a little bowl of salty, crispy, kettle-cooked potato chips! So when I got the notice that there was an issue with my Drive Up order and it was being put on hold, I called the store. When no one answered, I drove to the store. When no one at the store had any idea how to help me, I decided to cancel the order and just go ahead and pick up the things I came for and that I might as well knock out some grocery shopping while I was already out in my mask and everything…
I drove home an hour later feeling utterly and completely depleted.
As I was sulking myself into a funky heart space, and not in a good way, I looked out my window while stopped at a redlight and saw one of those white parachute fluffs floating by, probably from a Cottonwood or Poplar tree. I know it sounds insignificant, but I live in the city. It was dark outside, yet the world still felt hustley and bustley. But in the midst of all of that, this beautiful little spore (lol!) peacefully drifted a semicircle around my car. It was so unhurried. So at peace. So present and happy. The streetlight casted a glow on it, and I don’t know why, but I just felt a spark of joy in my heart and an overwhelming sense of peace.
For the rest of my short drive home, I kept thinking about how blessed I am. How blessed my family is. My husband and I have one another. Our parents and siblings are all alive and well. We have beautiful, sweet, healthy, happy children. We have a comfortable place to call home and an abundance of food to eat.
As I carried two armfuls of groceries inside after parking, pondering these things, I looked up at my front door to see a sole Ladybug, vibrant and red, lively, crawling across the top threshold of our door entry. I know these things seem unimportant to a lot of people, but sometimes, it’s the little things like seeing a Ladybug, which is notorious for symbolizing luck, joy, and prosperity, that make life feel full of magic, awe, and wonder.
It can be really hard in life to lose sight of these things. It is so easy to get caught up in pettiness, in being easily flustered and frustrated, in feeling the pressure to perform and to accomplish many things, in letting the attitudes and energies of others overwhelm you with weight that you aren’t meant to carry. But we can’t let these things block us from living in the fullness of joy that God wants us to receive, dwelling on the good things. We have all good things; we just have to position our hearts toward Jesus and let gratitude find us, wherever we may be.
So, here I am. I’m typing this, at the end of my very long day, from a fragrant, salty tub, and all I can say is that I am so thankful to have a God who hears our cries, knows our hearts, and wants to comfort us… even if all it takes is showing up in Ladybugs or fluffy seeds from local trees.
I read a quote this morning that really stirred my soul.
“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life, it will improve the lives of all those around you.”
- Robin Sharma
In the midst of this quarantine, with so much more time to spend with my own thoughts, the thing that’s been nagging me the most is my own tendency toward selfishness. Time spent doing face masks and skin care. Long bubble baths. Asking the kids to be quiet so I can practice yoga, meditate after. Reading book after book, simply for my own pleasure and joy. Lingering in my Bible. Doodling in my notebook. Going out solo for long, quiet runs. Bouncing from article to blog on the world wide web, researching every ponder I've ever thought. Solving Sudoku puzzles from a booklet. Playing games on my phone. Online shopping for things that only I want. Making the choice to once again go back to school.
These are the things my soul desires: quiet, alone time, peace, pleasure, joy. These are the areas in which I feel most connected to my spirit, the Spirit, and to God. But mom guilt is real. Shouldn’t I want to spend every waking moment of my life playing with my kids, homeschooling my kids, preparing meals for my kids, cleaning up after my kids, loving my husband? Shouldn’t I be doing more for those in need, those who are hurting in this pandemic? I want to be a devoted wife and mom and a contributing member of society. But the fact of the matter is, I’m selfish. I like to invest in myself.
So when I read that quote this morning, a flood of relief washed over me. Yes! Finally. Justification that sometimes it is okay to just put myself first.
But conviction still fell over me. I thought about Jesus. A man so selfless, He died to be the Savior of all. Did he ever just go “invest” in Himself?
Turns out, He kind of did!
Time and time again in the Gospel, it says that Jesus withdrew to be alone. Jesus, King of King and Lord of Lords, withdrew! He himself needed time alone, time with the Father God. (Luke 5:16)
Mark 1 puts it in an even more relatable way:
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” (Mark 1:35-37)
If you have kids, how true is that? You can try to hide (i.e. go to the bathroom alone or have a snack without anyone asking for some), but your kids immediately come looking for you! Ha!
So if Jesus, God, chose to spend time alone in prayer and solitude, how much more do we, people covered in the shortcomings of our own humanity, and with, for many of us, spouses and kids and homes to take care of, need to do so?!
This message is for both of us: Don’t feel guilty for investing in yourself. When you take time to do the things that restore your soul, it makes you a better person, a better employee, son or daughter, friend, parent, spouse, and on and on!
"Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Post originally written February 13th, 2020)
Tonight I was vigorously scrubbing the kitchen floor because tomorrow is Valentine’s Day and I want the house to be nice, tidy, and relaxing for my hubby. But in the midst of my scrubbing, I started thinking about expectations.
Just ask my kids, students, or husband - I have HIGH expectations for the people in my life. But the person whom I hold to the highest of standards? Myself. Me.
I am my number one critic.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have overly ambitious, perfectionist tendencies. That Drive. Me. Crazy. But also, they just drive me.
I want to keep a spotless house, while working a full time job in hopes of someday buying a bigger home, so I can host lots of people and cook lots of delicious meals for everyone. And I want to be a good and thoughtful neighbor. And I want to be the best employee at my job and teach my many different assigned curriculums in the most engaging, exciting way for my students, without letting anyone down. And I want to go back to school for my own next academic pursuit in the meantime. And of course I want to be the best mom I can be, giving my kids lots of love and experiences and wisdom and quality time and affection and things. And when I think I’m falling short, the mom guilt is all-consuming. And I want to be a devoted and doting wife. And I want to make lots of cool art and write a relevant book and pursue a million other little hobbies. I want to pay off all of our debt and grow a substantial savings. I want to be invested in ministry and volunteer more at my church. And you know I want to spend time with God and pursue His calling for me. I want to keep reading and listening to podcasts and going to conferences and growing. And honestly, I just want my car to stay clean! And for the laundry to be caught up. For more than a day. And I want to be really healthy. And eat mostly plant-based. And I want to look thin and glowing and polished and be well dressed while doing ALL THE THINGS!
Some days it feels like I’ve got a grip on all of it and a good rhythm going and that everything is going to work out okay. But then other days, like today, it all just feels like too much to balance, and honestly, it kind of feels like I’m drowning in a million duties of my own making.
The only true sense of relief when I’m feeling this way? To pray.
7 Scriptures to Pray when You’re Feeling Overwhelmed with Responsibility