So many women begin their journey of marriage and motherhood with bright-eyed wonder and excitement. Their naivety dismisses everything as being new and wonderful. Fast-forward a decade (or two) and many have lost their joy in what once was joyful. It is my observation that they became so consumed with providing for the needs of their husband, children, and family that they completely forgot themselves along the way. Instead of being the gift they wanted to be to the world, they found themselves stressed-out, running on empty, and resenting the very roles they signed up for.
This thought was in the back of my mind as I entered 2017. I began thinking back on the things that I used to do - before dating, marriage, and babies changed my priorities and responsibilities. I wanted to rediscover what made me - me. I decided to be proactive and sat down and composed a list.
My List wasn't fancy or even complex. It ended up being 25 things that I hoped to start anew or for the very first time. Some were simple - like writing thank-you’s, taking bubble baths, and attempting new recipes. Some were riskier - like pouring into 100 women and taking on 30-day writing challenges.
Understand that my List was not coming from a heart of "I want it now!” or "I deserve more.” It was coming from a heart of humility and a spirit of surrender.
My List was also not a by-product of me experiencing an early mid-life crisis or a desperate attempt of me "finding myself” - it was a preventative from all of that.
Consider it taking vitamins before needing antibiotics.
As I wrote in “The List: Part 1” - I had an understanding that my List was His, and in order for any of it to have any meaning, value, fulfillment, or purpose, God must be first! He was the Boss, and His yes’s and no’s were enough for me.
Hear me loud and clear: providing for the needs of your husband, children, and family is incredibly important! It is not to be done nonchalantly or half-heartedly. It should be done with excellence and joy!
Colossians 3:22 says, “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people.”
In the very same breath, I will say that it is permissible (and necessary) to prioritize your spiritual, emotional, physical and mental health in order to be at your very best.
Desiring to push the “reset button” - whether it be it a nap, latte, massage, bubble-bath, or trip to the grocery store, alone - does not make you a selfish wife or mother!
In order to steward those relationships in your life… Love and respect your husband… Care for and nurture your children… You must have something to give - something to offer!
You simply cannot give what you do not have.
There is a reason why flight attendants will instruct you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why is this necessary to ensure survival? Because you can’t help someone breathe when you aren’t breathing yourself!
I pray that you hear my heart as this subject could very quickly become misconstrued. This is not a cop-out for wives and mothers to neglect the things that God has given them in order to prioritize their interests and needs above others.
The truth is, every wife and mother has experienced difficult seasons of long days and late nights. When we are exhausted and overwhelmed, we don’t necessarily feel like cooking or cleaning or being patient, kind, or forgiving…but we do it anyway! We stay up. We show up. We hope, and pray, and believe. We fight for what’s worth fighting for. We go the extra mile. We wipe the butts and clean up the spills and soak the laundry. We collapse in bed at the end of the day, all to do it again in the morning!
The fact remains that in those condensed seasons of marriage and motherhood, we can easily lose focus on the greater picture. When all we can see are laundry piles, dirty dishes, stinky diapers, runny noses, and unpaid bills, we can easily forget that THIS is just a season.
James 4:14 says, “How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog - it's here a little while, then it's gone.”
I’m only 7 1/2 years into the “morning fog” of Motherhood, and yet I can attest to the fact that, “It goes by fast.” I blinked, and FOUR brown-eyed beauties call me “Mom.”
If we do our jobs right, these tiny humans that demand our bodies, sleep, attention, hugs, kisses, answers, and instruction will eventually leave us. They will move out. The house will become all too quiet and all too clean. When the raucous becomes silent and the chaos becomes calm, I hope to have not forgotten myself along the way. I’m keeping James 1:4 in sight and am believing that “perseverance will finish it’s work in [me] so that [I] may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”
As 2017 drew to a close and I reflected on all of it’s accomplishments, I sat in awe of God. It had been an unforgettable year.
Isaiah 55:9 says, “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
It turns out you don’t have to reinvent yourself to rediscover yourself, you just have to remember yourself!
I have never experienced as much fruit in my marriage, mothering, and ministry, collectively, as in 2017! Month after month, I saw evidence of God's hand at work. He didn’t just go through my List and check items off, He grabbed His marker and added hidden desires to it - like establishing Date Night with my husband, camping as a family, and getting more serious with my writings by submitting articles and starting a blog.
Now it’s your turn to have an unforgettable year! As you sit down to compose your List, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the things that I used to do (before marriage and/or motherhood)?
- What fills me up and brings me joy?
- What makes me - me?
Do the things you once did. In the process, you will discover the things you still enjoy and want to keep pursuing and also the things that are best left alone.
As you cannot give what you do not have, I challenge you to have! My prayer is that you will continue your journey with bright-eyed wonder and excitement and remember yourself along the way.