Kids played around us while we sat on my front room floor. Crackers crunched under tiny running feet. Toys flew past us while we chatted. We were having one of our weekly playdates and talking about teething, tantrums, and toilets; potty training little boys is a beast.
My friend exhaled loudly and the sag in her shoulders carried more than the weight of a tired mama.
“I just need some time to breathe. If I could just have a day to myself every once in a while, then I think I’d be a better mom, you know?” she asked me with pleading eyes, hoping I had an answer for her weary heart.
As she told me about her need for alone time, I saw the fog in her eyes. I know that fog all too well.
I was there only a week ago when my two-year-old son decided to use crayons all over our bathroom. His one-year-old sister was chewing on a blue crayon while coloring the floor with a green one. Two tiny humans turned my bathroom into a Picasso wannabe in under a minute flat. And that was only on a Monday.
When my friend finished pouring out her heart, I almost instinctively responded that she schedule some time for self-care. If her husband couldn’t help her, I was happy to watch her kids while she got a haircut or pedicure, whatever thing she needed to take care of herself.
But that answer didn’t seem right. It felt formulaic, like I was reading it directly from a women’s magazine.
My suggested answer to her exhausted heart felt empty.
We hear a lot about self-care as mamas. We’re told we should take a day at the spa or leave the house for a little bit so our brains can quiet. “Let the men take over!” magazines shout at us from the checkout aisle. Maybe a ladies night out with friends will fill us back up so we can start Monday off with a bang. If we’d just take some time for ourselves, then we could take on life like a boss.
I get it. It’s important to nurture my emotions and body. I need to step away from my responsibilities from time to time to care for myself. I mean, these wolf eyebrows won’t wax themselves. And a ladies night can be good for the soul; my friends need to know I’m still alive during the trenches of toddlerhood. But nights with friends and freshly painted toenails don’t fill up my heart like I need on a consistent basis, so how could I offer this as a solution to my friend? I could not bring myself to tell her that taking time for herself was the only answer she needed.
Because I know self-care without God’s love as the foundation is only a band-aid to an exhausted heart. I shared with her how being in the trenches is an exhausting yet beautiful opportunity to draw closer to Christ. We don’t have to feel like we need to “take on motherhood like a boss.” God calls us to know Him more, and in that calling, He gives us strength in return for our weakness.
We don’t need to draw from our own well to muster strength for Monday. The well of Christ quenches our thirst when we love ourselves as Christ loves us, when we see ourselves as He sees us.
You are strong when you have nothing left to give but His love.
You are enough when you see you are nothing without Him.
It’s not that I don’t take time for myself or plan self-care. But I know when my heart is heavy and exhausted, a ladies night isn’t going to help me respond with God’s truth when my kids color all over my walls with crayons.
My cup is quietly and consistently being refilled when I reach for my Bible for strength instead of a good pedicure, and the result is God’s love spilling over.
And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
1 John 4:16 (NIV)
Michele Morin says
I’m really bad at self-care, and I know that about myself, so I’m working on building more margin into my life. It’s true, we need to breathe, but if Jesus is not there with me in that margin, it’s still all a self-salvation strategy that will leave me feeling empty. Thank you, Gloryanna, for this gospel-oriented realignment of our understanding of what it really means to know the light burden and the easy yoke.
Tracy Sykes says
I have found the truth in this for awhile now. I will schedule a coffee date, not for a chance to get away, but for a chance to have conversation with someone other than my daughter. My recharge moments come in when she is down for a nap and I grab my bible, that’s the peace i strive for on a daily basis now.
Jennifer Love says
I think that is a perfect perspective on this issue of self-care when we think of – what is it we need to have stored up inside of us when the kids make a crazy mess? You are so right that self care needs to come back to what our heart really needs, not our hair!
Susie Castleberry says
I love this perspective. So true things are just temporary but Gods word is forever in our hearts to help us continue to be filled up during the trials we go through.
julia borjeson says
Thank You Gloryiana, you have made a long overdue realization that many of us overlook! My kids are grown, and I care for my Mother who has dementia and mild Alzheimers–and even though us older gals aren’t always represented exactly…I know I can apply what you have offered to my own situation(and I hope other caretakers will too). We need a break, yes–and a movie night out with the girlz is a great way to mix some much needed FUN into the balance–but It’s when I escape to the beach(or park, or redwoods) and walk alone talking, praying, and listening to my Lord that I receive the much-needed refill of His Love and strength! Bless you for sharing your story today!
Beth Williams says
Bonnie Gray said it best with her book “Spiritual Whitespace.” She talks about needing margin in our schedules. That may not always be easy with young children. Try your best to make time for yourself. Perhaps when the kids nap you can take time & read God’s word or listen to a devotional. Something calming & quiet. Everyone at each stage in life needs a little alone time. Take walks, listen to Christian music, pray or just simply meditate in quiet. We must care for ourselves & get our souls refilled or we won’t have anything to pour into others God has entrusted us with. I highly recommend Bonnie’s books Spiritual Whitespace & Whispers of Rest 40 days of God’s Love to Revitalize Your Soul.” Whispers of Rest gives ideas on how to do soul care for yourself & refresh your soul.
Pearl Allard says
Gloryanna, I’ll raise my teacup to that! I love that you recognize the need to take breaks but acknowledge that Christ is our re-energizing source. “Being in the trenches is an exhausting yet beautiful opportunity to draw closer to Christ.” This beautifully written truth applies across the board when we’re in the trenches of anything! Thank you so much for this.
Yes!!!! So grateful for this reminder today! I can’t tell you how often I’ve thought that the pedicure or the time away from the kids was what I needed, and then found myself going back with the same perspective and no relief from the fog. I need time with Jesus! Thank you!
Cheri Dee Johnson says
I’m so glad you share this. Self-care is an overplayed tune. It’s good, but in the end it doesn’t satisfy. However, coming empty before Jesus so He fills us? That works wonders. He works wonders.