Choosing Your Absence from Something You Love: 5 Things I’m Learning

ChoosingAbsence

Five posts into writing a blog series I loved in early 2018, “The Sacred Art of Receiving Your Right-Now Life,” I found myself drowning in a sea of very normal roles and responsibilities. I’ve been living out the message of that series in real time instead of writing it down and hitting the “publish” button like I’d planned.

There was nothing crisis-like or dramatic about any of it, only that all the things conspired against my writing all at the same time. Or at least that’s how it felt.

  • Married with three children
  • I have a job, but it’s not full time.
  • And because it’s not full-time, a year ago I also took on a couple of freelance jobs that became triple the work of what I expected. (Lesson learned.)
  • My kids were doing all of their kid things. Two of them are teenagers, which means there’s no end to the shenanigans (and maternal angst.)
  • From February until the end of school, I lived in constant stress. Then summer and working from home with kids. Bless it.
  • After nearly 20 years of teaching Economics to college students, my husband began a brand new career last August. We’re grateful and excited; it’s such a good fit for him. But it’s meant long hours, working on Saturdays, and yours truly filling in the gaps. It won’t always be like this, but building a business requires a great deal of heart and hustle (and uncertainty.)
  • Also? Our girl graduates from high school in less than 8 weeks, and this year has stretched each of us in ways we couldn’t have known ahead of time.

 

Guys, I’m tired.

bday

But do you see what I mean? These are normal things, good things. Every role and responsibility I have means that I’ve been entrusted with gifts and people and opportunities to nurture and steward. But good things still come with hardship.

Which brings me to the first thing I’m learning during a season of living my stories instead of writing them down:

1. Too many good things at the same time are still too many things.

Sometimes we can’t help it. Sometimes we really are at the mercy of season and circumstance. But sometimes we let too many things in during a season that’s already sagging under the weight of all the good things.

Like a generous host throwing a grand party, we leave the door open and the lovely guests keep filing in, champagne glasses held high in celebration. Next thing you know, the floor has collapsed under the weight of this fine party. Here’s the part where I chuckle because this exact thing literally happened last year in the town where I live. It’s fine. No one was seriously injured. It’s a metaphor that works, is what I’m saying.

2. Life right now is much more about managing my energy than managing my time.

I’ve only fully realized this over the last several months and guys, it’s a game-changer. Busy as I am, I have actual time on my hands. We all do if we’re brutally honest. What I don’t have leftover is energy. And the things I really miss (like regular writing) require a mental and emotional energy that’s currently taken up by other required roles and responsibilities.

Once I realized this, I was able to let go of some of the guilt and striving, and replace it with grace and acceptance. I’m still sad about it. But all of my brain power and emotional reserves are currently spoken for. (See #4 if you want to know where it’s going.)

3. Structure is my friend.

A lot of us struggle with doing tasks that we don’t feel like doing. We procrastinate, distract ourselves, and make excuses. I have a friend who’s currently writing a book. As in, she’s under contract to write a book. One morning she texted me, “Haven’t gotten one word down on paper this morning but my hair and make-up look exceptionally good.” I laughed so hard because THIS IS WHAT WE DO.

glasses

And some of us struggle more than others. (Ahem, it’s me.) Add to this equation that I work mostly from home, which means it’s easy for work tasks and mom / wife / home / life tasks to bleed together into an existence where I always feel “on” and never “off.” My brain is in a constant state of whiplash from switching back and forth between vastly different roles and tasks.

“Enough,” I said to myself in January. “You are a grown-up and you can do this differently.”

Now I try to have three days a week when I work full-time and two days a week that are for my other “job,” the one where I plan the meals, get the groceries, run the errands, fill out the paperwork, email the teachers and coaches, decipher FAFSA forms, do the laundry, (take a nap,) etc.

We’re all different but my brain works better when it has a long runway in the same direction. I’m more efficient with the work I do for my job when my brain gets in that zone and can just stay there for hours. The same is true for domestic life. It only makes sense to structure life in accordance with how my brain works. It’s required all sorts of rearranging and it will never be a perfect system, but it’s given me a renewed sense of hope that I can get through this season with a measure of wholeness and stability.

I can’t stress enough that this doesn’t always work perfectly. The last few weeks my rhythms have been off and I’ve had to accept it. But each week I begin again and ask for grace. Always, I try to hold it loosely.

(If you’d like to learn more about this, I highly recommend this podcast episode by Emily P. Freeman: Design a Rhythm of Work — Theme Days!)

4. If you’re living in a pivotal life season, even one that’s not a crisis, it will take up more space in your head and heart than you realize.

No one can tell you what it’s like during the last year before your child becomes, in theory, an adult.

And just like that, the tears start flowing. (I was doing fine until now.)

I recently told a friend that I feel a low-grade sadness all the time. I miss this girl of mine already and she hasn’t even gone anywhere yet.

srgirl

I think it’s because of this. When you hold that baby in your arms, 18 years feels like a very long time. It’s overwhelming, how long 18 years seems when you’re on the front end. But here we are. Though I hope and pray that our relationship will be always be close, that I’ll always be a trusted voice in her life, I know that most of the formative work is done. It is sobering beyond words, partly because I see all that I did wrong, all that I omitted, all that I didn’t know and now I do.

It’s also this. Senior year means we’re all living in the tension between a child still being under our roof and soon not being under our roof. Giving as much freedom as possible within boundaries is messy. It looks different for every child and it may exhaust you like nobody’s business.

Back in October, I drew up a “Senior Syllabus,” something we could all refer to throughout the twists and turns of this year. Sure, it’s been somewhat helpful but the truth is, there’s no real guidebook for this. We’re all simply making our way one day at a time. I pray a lot and I process it with a couple of trusted people in my life. I probably need to have a good cry or ten but I’m afraid that if I give myself permission to do that, I won’t crawl out of the corner for days.

5. Sometimes you have to choose your absence from the thing you love most.

Because there are people you love more.

For me, that thing has been my own writing. Again, it’s not that I don’t have leftover time. Monday I spent six hours of my day writing and editing content for my job. By 8 pm, I had no mental energy left, even though I didn’t go to bed for another two and a half hours. Sure, I could have come downstairs to my desk for personal writing time, but with what brain-power? (See point #2.)

remote

Five-ish years ago I read a little book called Crazy Busy by Kevin DeYoung. He said many wise and timely things but here’s the phrase that’s stayed with me.

We must choose our absence, our inability, and our ignorance – and choose wisely. The sooner we embrace this finitude, the sooner we can be free.

In the last year, I’ve said no to speaking engagements that would have brought much personal joy and fulfillment. I said no to teaching a periodic  class, even though I miss teaching and would have loved it. I turned down additional freelance work even though the money was good.

And I’ve said no to regular writing and publishing my own words, for now, because it requires energy and intention I need to save for other things. Yes, it’s life-giving and makes me feel most like myself. And yes, this joy has a way of spilling over into my everyday life. But I tend to run after this joy, this work of my heart, with too much gusto, leaving my people in the wake. Though I desperately want to learn how to curb my own ambition and enthusiasm, I’m not there yet. And this high-stakes season is simply too precious and fragile to risk.

Even though I have so much to share with you.

I’ve been storing up posts and ideas in very organized and professional ways–scattered Word docs on my computer, iPhone notes, even an entire book I’ve outlined in a spiral notebook. I started it two years ago and I keep scribbling in it. I also want to write about teenagers–about daughters and about sons. I want to write about acceptance, doubt, everyday faith, and how the life of Christ has everything to teach us about receiving our right-now lives, even as we wait with hope.

roses

If you’re in a similar season of working, of waiting, of wondering if “your time” will ever come around, know that you’re in good company. And that company isn’t just me. It’s Jesus.

One of the things I’ve learned from studying his life is that God’s timing for our work is perfect, and that Christ himself is with us as we labor–whether it’s scrubbing the dishes (what I’m doing after I finish this,) helping with an overwhelming research paper on Macroeconomics and The Great Recession (what I’m doing after I finish the dishes #LordBeNear,) or being diligent in the work you’ve been paid to do (what I’m doing after I finish those other two things.)

As I labor in everyday ways, I invite Jesus, the one who filled the nets of his weary working friends with fish, helped them cook it up for breakfast, and then offered them a feast on the beach. This is his heart for us. He meets us as we struggle with discouragement, fatigue, and lack. He cares about all of our work, and delights to show up alongside us with compassion, grace, and sometimes a feast. (John 21:1-14)

Whatever season you’re in, I pray you will experience Christ’s presence with you, and know his heart of abundance for you.

Thanks for being here. (And for reading all the words. I sure know how to make up for lost time.)

///

I do post on Instagram pretty regularly @marianvischer. It’s a little bit of personal life (think college visits + laughable school projects + how I redid my kitchen backsplash with stickers,) a little bit of writing, a little bit of everyday beauty. In the last year I’ve enjoyed writing a couple of series there.

10 Things to Tell You Series last September, hosted by Laura Tremaine. Here’s a link to the first post in that series. 

12-Day Series with Hopewriters in January. Here’s a link to the first post in that series. 

When I do publish here, or if you’d like to stay in the loop with news I only share with subscribers, sign up in the email box and you’ll be the first to know all the things. : )

The subscribe box is below this post or on the right if you’re reading on a computer. If you’re reading on a phone, scroll way down to the “Yes, Please” box underneath my photo.

5 Real Ways to Practice Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life {that cost zero dollars}

cherry-blossoms

What does it look like to receive your right-now life just as it is and not how you want it to be?

What does it look like to receive this season of work you wish you didn’t have to do? What does it look like to receive this season of parenting? Of marriage? Of income? Of keeping so many plates spinning, you’re positively dizzy?

That’s been the purpose of this series — to encourage your soul in the midst of your right-now season and to provide you with practical tips to make the “receiving” a little bit easier.

We’ve talked about feeding your soul — why it matters and how to do it. And we’ve talked about why self-care matters, especially if you want to live a life defined by love.

Today, we’re getting super practical about everyday self-care and I’m reporting to you directly from the trenches. I’ve taken on too much work in the middle of a family season that also’s a bit too much. I feel stretched in every way and have had to accept that I’ll be a little bonkers until the end of the school year.

When life looks like this, we can proceed with fists clenched or we can proceed with palms open, receiving this season for what it is and opening our hearts to the ways God wants to love us, provide for us, and gently teach us.

seat

One of the ways He provides is through opening my eyes to “everyday self-care.” I’m not talking about massages and pedicures. I’m talking about daily rhythms and practices that help us to care for ourselves so that we can receive our right-now season of life (craziness and all) and better love those around us.

Here are 5 real-life ways you too can practice everyday self-care:

1. Do normal things slowly and with care.

During the holidays I listened to this podcast on self-care from The Lazy Genius. She talked about slowing down when you wash your face at night. And so I did.

You guys, do you realize that you don’t have to hurry when you wash your face? You can take the time to massage the cleanser into your skin, to slowly rinse your face with care, to gently pat your moisturizer onto your face. It turns a daily chore into a loving ritual. I feel like it helps to calm my brain and my body before bedtime.

I now do the same thing when I wash my hair, massaging my scalp with my fingertips in the same way my sweet hairdresser does. Why have we not being treating ourselves to these daily luxuries?

roses

If you had a friend who was struggling in some way, who needed your help to wash her face or hair, how would you care for her? Gently and with tenderness. Care for yourself in the kind way you would care for a friend. (I’ll say this a lot.)

Whether it’s a long shower at the end of the day, a warm bath instead of scrolling through Facebook, or washing your dishes slowly in a sudsy sink of hot water, the possibility of daily luxury is all around you. Treat yourself.

 

2. Kick hurry to the curb.

A couple of months ago I went to the grocery store mid-morning. It was a rare day of not having a super pressing agenda, so I gifted myself a latte from the in-store Starbucks and took my time through the aisles. Over and over, I said to myself: “Slow down. There is no need to rush.”

After I checked out and loaded my groceries into the car, I felt strangely relaxed and peaceful. Slowing down and sipping coffee had somehow turned a regular chore into a treat. I considered how I’m constantly in a hurry, even when I don’t have to be.

courage - 1

I realize we don’t always have that luxury. You may have small children who accompany you everywhere or you’re squeezing in a grocery run before school pick-up. But when you’re doing a regular chore and you don’t have to hurry, be kind to yourself and value slowness over productivity. When I slow my pace and my mind, it’s as if anxiety runs out of gas and stalls, leaving me with a rare sense of calm.

As I’ve considered the life of Christ, I’ve noticed that he was never in a rush. We tend to assume this was a cultural state of mind, yet there are so many stories in Scripture of those around him hurrying and scurrying, frantic and panicked about all sorts of things. But Jesus never responded with hurry or stress, which tells me that’s not his intention for us either.

He is a God of peace and he calls us to be people of peace — in our inner lives and in the world around us. How can we be instruments of peace if we remain in a state of hurry and stress?

When a season of life is extra crazy, when we are struggling to receive it because we just want to get to the other side, hurry may be our default but it’s not our friend. Stressful seasons are the most important times to weave rhythms of slowness into our days.

 

3. Live within your means.

I don’t mean in a financial sense, though that totally applies. I’m referring to your energy level, your mental and emotional state, your relationships, your calendar, your commitments, your current season.

In my next post, I’ll tell you about an entire year of rest I had to take about 6 years ago. The reasons are long are complicated but a big part of the equation was my refusal, for years on end, to honor my own limitations. I was spinning my wheels in good, but misplaced directions.

courage - 1 (1)

I wasn’t the only one who paid for it. For a long season of recovery, I had little to give anyone. When we don’t honor our God-given limitations, we will eventually fall apart, making it impossible to live a life defined by love.

{For more on this topic of honoring our limitations, see my last post: The Secret to Practicing Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life.}

If your right-now life feels bananas, if you’re living beyond your means but you can’t take anything off your plate {it happens}, choose not to add anything else to it. Finish what you must and then resolve to move forward with intention. In the words of St. Benedict, “Always we begin again.”

 

4. Work with what you have, right where you are.

There is a holy hush that comes over my mind and soul when I quit wrestling and simply receive what is mine with gratitude. This applies to everything from my home and possessions, to the opportunities I have…and don’t have.

bench

This series I’m writing, while precious to me, has unfolded far more slowly than I planned. I have had to honor my limitations in the form of time and energy, which means I write in the smallest slivers of my full schedule and publish less often. I worry that I’m losing momentum and my writing skills, that people won’t keep reading, that the deep longings I have to encourage others as I write from my own heart will go unmet and unblessed. When I look around and see writers passing me by, it’s easy to lose heart, to panic, to throw in the towel.

This verse comforts me:

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. Psalm 16:5-6 (NIV)

Living a “limitless” life is not the goal. Notice that the psalmist is thanking God for boundary lines. Our good Father knows what we truly need and what we don’t. He alone is our portion and our provider. We can trust him with the limitations he’s placed in our lives, knowing that they provide protection or perhaps just a necessary pause.

We waste precious mental and emotional energy comparing our lives to others. We cannot simultaneously reach for what is not ours and receive what is ours. We can only do one or the other.

5. Feed yourself.

I’m talking about spiritual food and actual food. When our lives are especially crazy, we tend to neglect the most basic necessities, like nourishment.

As I said in an earlier post of this series, we can get a little crazy when we don’t eat. We lose all perspective. We despair. We cry. We don’t think or feel or act as we should. We act like young children with low blood sugar.

When I began to see Scripture as my food, it changed everything. It helped me prioritize time with God in his word, not merely as a spiritual discipline but as the daily sustenance I desperately needed.

The same is true for the actual food we eat. I love this illustration from Anne Lamott on teaching others to feed themselves in the same way they’d feed their beloved pastor if invited over for lunch or dinner:

They wouldn’t say, ‘Here Pastor, let’s eat standing up in the kitchen. This tube of barbecue Pringles is all for you. I have my own,’ and then stand there gobbling from their own tubular container.

No, they’d get out pretty dishes, and arrange wonderful foods on the plates, and set one plate before Veronica at the table, a plate filled with love, pride and connection. That’s what we have longed for, our whole lives, and get to create.  From, A Few Quick Thoughts on That Diet You Are About to Fail

bfast

A couple of weeks ago my energy level was so low, I felt chronically sleepy and overwhelmed. How in the world was I going to do all the work set before me when all I wanted to do was nap? I couldn’t abandon my responsibilities or stop being a wife or leave my children as orphans. And even though I knew this commitment level would only be for a season, I still had to get through it.

As a last resort, I switched up my eating for this season I’m in, prioritizing my own nourishment. The details don’t matter because we’re all different in the ways we need to eat, but I will say this. As Anne Lamott advises, feed yourself with the care and intention you would employ if you were having your pastor or dear friend over for a meal.

The way you nourish yourself matters. Within a few days of making the changes I knew I needed to make, enough energy has returned for me to (hopefully) meet the daily demands of my current season. It’s impossible to receive your own life if you’re not feeding yourself in the most basic ways.

///

And on that note, let’s take a break and enjoy a snack. : )

Because I have more real-life tips for practicing self-care in your crazy, right-now life, there will be a Part 2 of this segment on everyday self-care. In the meantime, what practices would you like to begin implementing in your own life?

I’ll leave you with my favorite quote on self-care:

I have become clear about at least one thing: self-care is never a selfish act–it is simply good stewardship of the only gift I have, the gift I was put on earth to offer to others. Anytime we can listen to true self and give it the care it requires, we do so not only for ourselves but for the many others whose lives we touch. ~ Parker Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

///

the sacred art graphic

If this series sounds like something you need, all you have to do is subscribe to this online space. (You can do that in the box below this post.) If you’re already subscribed, yay! You’ll automatically receive it. The series is totally free.

Simply come and receive.

Whenever the latest installment of the series is published, you’ll be the first to know and you won’t miss a post.

Other posts in the series:

Post 1: How to Live Your Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Purpose

Post 2: The One Word that Forever Changed How I Approach the Bible

Post 3: When Your Right-Now Life Needs a Realistic Way to Study Scripture

Post 4: The Secret to Practicing Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life

Click here to leave a question or comment. You can also chime in on social media. (Links below.)

The Secret to Practicing Self-Care in Your Crazy, Right-Now Life

flower-3157393_640

Do you ever feel like certain seasons are defined by weariness?

  • the mental and physical weariness of your own everyday life
  • the emotional weariness of living in a cruel and tragic world
  • the personal grief and private trials of your own small life

 

We’re only two months into a new year but I write from a place of utter weariness. It’s been a long year already.

I lost my friend to cancer almost three weeks ago.

She was my own age – a wife, a mom to 3 kids, a beloved Kindergarten teacher. We lived next door for 10 years, raising our kids on communal popsicles and sharing so much of life together.

I’ve been working on this post in fits and starts for two weeks, writing from a place of grief and all of its accompanying friends – fatigue, confusion, and weepiness that comes out of nowhere. I wish I was a child who could be sent to time out. For like, 4 weeks.

There are still mouths to feed and work to do and decisions to make, and this is a good thing. But I go through these everyday motions with a heaviness I can’t shake off.

It’s not an unfamiliar place. Just over three years ago, I lost another dear friend to cancer – a wife and mom in her 40s, a devoted college professor, the most loyal friend.

Loss has a way of refining our truest priorities, doesn’t it?

A year and a half ago, my grandmother’s death reoriented me in ways I didn’t know I needed. The words I read at her funeral began my journey of receiving my right-now season of life even though it meant letting go of a hoped-for dream, of learning to see limitations as gifts instead of liabilities.

But this is a lesson I am slow to learn.

There’s nothing like losing two women your very own age to force you to examine what you want your own life to be about, especially when they’ve loved you and others generously.

 

1 (3)

///

I had a difficult conversation with my husband recently. It didn’t start out as a speak-the-hard-truth sort of talk; it really just began as an apology. But we can’t always predict where our words will lead and this particular exchange landed me in a painful place. I’d been operating from a know-it-all place of entitlement and expectation. I could see exactly what the issues were and guess what? I wasn’t the problem.

Except that I was, in fact, a very big part of the problem.

This is marriage. Nothing happens in a vacuum; we’re both wrong and also right. But in this case, grace showed up and allowed me to receive the hard truth, to hold it up to the light and discern a thing or two.

Here’s the paraphrased version:

We loved each other almost immediately. Back then, I knew how to live fully and freely in the moment, to laugh long and hard and easy. I was audacious and optimistic and brimming with love. But that person doesn’t come around much anymore. It’s sad and frustrating to be with someone you don’t much recognize, to miss the person you fell in love with.

He reminded me that I know all too well what that’s like. And I do. For a long season, I didn’t recognize him either. By grace, God brought him back, but I know what it’s like to miss someone even though you both still live under the same roof.

window - 1

Then he said something that I can’t stop thinking about:

I don’t care if you never put another meal on the table. What matters to me and to the kids is the person you are when you’re with us. And we’re all walking on eggshells around here.

Happy times.

The drama of our life together is one for the books. We are a marriage of redemption, partially because we’ve given God so much material to work with. At first, I resisted the truth he spoke because I wanted to blame him for my own stressy demeanor that has apparently had everyone treading so lightly.

But he spoke those painful words in love and I knew he was right. The truth is, I’ve missed myself too.

///

I know what you may be thinking: What does any of this have to do with rest and self-care?

I’ll tell you what. I have not been living within my means.

What’s the secret to practicing self-care in the midst of your crazy, right-now life?

Learning to recognize and receive your own limitations. 

When I don’t live within my means, I don’t live a life defined by love. I live a life defined by stress, anxiety, worry, and control. I am not kind or patient with those I love most.

Simply put, I’ve increasingly stretched myself too thin. I’ve said yes when I should have said no. I’ve been so busy tending to the immediate and the urgent that I’ve neglected the important. I’ve chosen agenda over relationship. I’ve tried to be my own savior and other people’s too. I’ve let fear have its way with me. I’ve brewed extra coffee instead of taking a nap.

tiny-coffee-cup

I’ve learned these lessons before and I should know better. I’ve read Essentialism for crying out loud. But living beyond our means doesn’t happen all at once.

Step by step, I’ve slowly crept into the rolling fog of overwhelm until I could no longer see clearly. I’ve been blind to my own sin and lack of love, blaming others for my woes — spouse, kids, circumstances I didn’t deserve.

Which brings me back to the beginning of this post. What do I want my life to be about?

Love.

I want to live a life defined by love.

///

Jesus said that the second greatest commandment (after loving God with all that you are) is loving your neighbor as yourself. We tend to zero in on the “neighbor” part of that verse, while ignoring an implicit truth.

To know how to love others, we need to know how to love ourselves.

camera self portrait

This is the trickiest of truths to unpack, partially because our culture paints “loving yourself” into some sort of Real Housewives caricature of personal indulgence. That’s not the sort of loving yourself I’m talking about. That’s just narcissism.

The great thing about the Christian faith is that we have a God who became a real man and lived among us. His life is actually written down for us, which means we can learn from him and through him.

Here is the perfect example of someone who loved God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength AND loved his neighbor as himself. Jesus, even though He was God and could have lived beyond his human capacity, chose not to. Which means He lived within his means. He honored his own limitations.

He slept when He was tired.

He retreated from crowds when He was overwhelmed and needed to rest, regroup, and pray.

He took naps, even when a literal storm raged around him and everyone was freaking out. When He woke up, He calmly took care of business and did not waste precious energy coming unhinged.

He dined leisurely with friends and family.

He made wine flow abundantly so that his loved ones could prolong their celebration.

He did not hurry. 

1 (1)

He did not heal everyone who needed healing.

He did not take advantage of every great opportunity that came his way, even though those closest to him said he should. 

He learned a trade and worked, making beautiful and useful things with his hands.

He knew that the Scriptures were his food and his life.

Jesus was not a workaholic. He honored the God-given rhythms of work and rest.

Even though we know that God’s power sustained him through temptation and suffering, I can’t help but wonder if the fruit of these disciplines helped nourish him during the times when he did have to live beyond his means. 

When He was being tempted in the desert for 40 days.

When crowds were pressing in on Him.

When He kept teaching for hours on end and had to feed thousands of hungry people. 

When the religious establishment harassed him endlessly.

In the days leading up to his death.

As he suffered and eventually died for a world that did not see who He was.

Like him, we face situations or seasons when we’re forced to live in crisis mode, when there are no healthy rhythms because we’re just trying to survive or help others survive. Jesus lived in the same broken world we live in — he was called upon to step in to crises, to go without sleep, to do God’s work when he was exhausted.

But he didn’t live this way all the time.

///

What might it look like to seek the greatest good of those around you in the same way that you naturally, instinctively, seek the greatest good for yourself?

  • Honoring your limitations and honoring their limitations
  • Receiving compassion and grace for yourself, giving compassion and grace to those around you
  • Receiving rest for yourself and providing rest to others
  • Caring for your own body and caring for the bodies of those you love — with food, with tenderness, with intention

 

bright office

I am not my own end game. When I learn how to care for myself in this Jesus way, I also learn how to care for others in this Jesus way.

Living loved helps me live love. 

I continue to learn the hard way that if I don’t honor my human limitations and care for myself accordingly, I can’t love others well. Or sometimes at all.

Even if there weren’t others to care for or live in relationship with, knowing that the Creator of the universe loves you and delights in you regardless of what you accomplish — that’s who God created us to be. Learning to live loved is enough.

But people do need you. They need the unique brand of love and work and giftedness that only you can offer the world.

  • They don’t need a bootstrapped version of you that will burn out.  
  • Or a dutiful but resentful version of you (my personal favorite)
  •  Or an apathetic, checked-out version of you
  •  Or a you that is so focused on everyone else that you are falling apart on the inside / bitter / coping in all the wrong ways

 

By learning what it looks like to love ourselves in the midst of our right-now lives, we can begin to live lives defined by love.

///

roses

I’ve tried all sorts of things in the name of self-care — exercise, eating well, taking supplements or medicine, getting a break. I still do these things to varying degrees. But I’m here to tell you, after years of trial and error, that honoring my limitations makes more of a difference than anything else.

Learning to rest, to let go of what I can, to ration my energy, to always count the cost of stress — these are the most loving things I can do for myself and the people I love.

In what areas do you need to rest, scale back, or let go?

What may feel selfish at first could actually breathe more life into yourself, your work, your home, and the world you influence.

///

the sacred art graphic

The next post in this series, coming to you sooner rather than later, will get super practical. I’ve learned there are little changes we can make in our everyday lives that yield big exhales (to us and to our people.)

If you find yourself in any of the following statements, the next post in the series is for you:

  • I can’t spend money on spa days or shopping weekends. How can I practice self-care? (Me either.)
  • My life has zero margin.
  • I have little kids. What is this “rest” you speak of?
  • I literally don’t know where to start. I’ve always been focused on the needs of those around me. To think of my own feelings, desires, or needs is a foreign concept.
  • I probably focus too much on myself and not enough on those around me. How can I find a healtier way to care for myself?
  • I’m so busy fulfilling my many responsibilities. Self-care will have to wait.
  • I am a Real Housewife and this post offends me. How DARE you?

///

If this series sounds like something you need, all you have to do is subscribe to this online space. (You can do that in the box below this post.) If you’re already subscribed, yay! You’ll automatically receive it. The series is totally free.

Simply come and receive.

Whenever the latest installment of the series is published, you’ll be the first to know and you won’t miss a post.

Other posts in the series:

Post 1: How to Live Your Ordinary Life with Extraordinary Purpose

Post 2: The One Word that Forever Changed How I Approach the Bible

Post 3: When Your Right-Now Life Needs a Realistic Way to Study Scripture

 

Click here to leave a question or comment. You can also chime in on social media. (Links below.)