We have had Maya for 3 1/2 weeks. 3 1/2 weeks is long enough to be reminded of what parenting “littles” is like. Lots of interruptions–worthwhile interruptions, but still breaks in routine. Diapers, potty training, crying for no apparent reason, nursings and feedings… all worthwhile, and yet energy depleting and emotional draining.
Moms, that may be your season of life, and my heart does go out to you. I remember the joys and the struggles. I also remember being so tired, yet not wanting to lose my identity in the season. And losing my identity, wondering what I needed to be doing differently.
“You cannot self-preserve and give freely.” – Rebekah Lyons
I love this statement—and I don’t. As powerful as those words are, I know they have the potential to produce tremendous amounts of “mom-guilt.”
When our kids were young, Mat and I made a lot of sacrifices for me to stay home with them. I did some work for Matheau, I taught a few classes here and there, but I stayed home. I was the one on-call all of the time. I know, I should have been 100% grateful for the opportunity, but the truth is, I wasn’t always grateful. It is hard when you are always on the clock. Trying to guide and mold the future generation in between spit-up, diapers, potty training, and maybe even teaching someone to tie their own shoes–on just a couple hours of uninterrupted sleep can seem like too much to handle.
So, here are some things I’ve learned from and since that season of life.
- Self-preservation isn’t the same as self-care.
- Self-care doesn’t equal selfish.
- God designed our bodies to work the best in rhythm with the circadian rhythm (the body clock). Just like our babies need to learn the pattern, we need to adhere to the pattern.
- To give freely means we have something to give.
- You can memorize a ton of Bible verses, but sometimes, what you really need is a few minutes of silence with God. Silence is when you quit talking, quit asking, quit repeating the verse you think will be your answer, and let Him be your answer.
- God has given you what you need.
One of the greatest gifts God had given me, I managed to lose during my seasons with having “littles.” When I lost my identity, I lost confidence that I knew how to make wise choices beyond the scope of a 6-8-year-old. I starting living on autopilot because that seemed like the best way to get through the days and weeks. If I had low expectations, and kept my focus on keeping peace within our home, I thought that that would make me that 100% grateful.
If I had low expectations, and kept my focus on keeping peace within our home, I thought that that would make me that 100% grateful. The problem was, it didn’t, and I didn’t know how to get out of the rut. I thought I was doing all the right things, and it had to be just me and my own stubbornness that kept me there.
It was my own stubbornness. Managing a home doesn’t mean that you forget who you are or who God created you to be. I believe it means you lay your opinions about yourself, and you figure out who you really are! The good, bad and even the ugly… and when you do that… you will start to see the beautiful.
God can use our stories and situations in any season of life. However, His point isn’t to use us, but to transform us!!
So, if you are in a season with littles, or tweens and teens, or single, or an empty-nester, self-preserving isn’t about living solely for the purpose of others, it’s about living solely for the purpose God intentionally created you for.
This doesn’t mean that you have no responsibilities, you quit studying God’s Word and get out of diaper duty. This requires that you step back from what you view your purpose is, and create time and space for God to teach you what your purpose is. This may mean little things need to change. You give up that soda in exchange for 2 minutes of silence (with the bathroom door closed!!) or you make time to move your body and get out of your own mind-space, so you can hear when God has something to say. I guarantee what He has to say is always going to allow you to give more freely than you thought you could.