For those who did not know, a rained-out weekend plus a trip to the ER (plus recovery time) due to accidentally stabbing myself with a knife (ouch!) caused a mini hiatus in mini sessions/updates/posts for the first half of December! While this was very disheartening (after all, it caused me to “drop the ball” on SO many Christmas card plans), I soon realized God was MAKING me slow down because well, otherwise I can never just BE. It’s allowed me to recharge and reflect (after I threw my pity party, of course!) ;) I wanted to share what REALLY resonated with me as I found time to BE STILL. It's from my devotional book that is part of MOPS International while I tied in personal takeaways. I highly recommend becoming part of a community of women who are in the same season of life as you if you are not already doing so! It's been a life saver for me!
FREEDOM TO FORGIVE SELF: It would be impossible to adequately catalogue the amount of anxiety I have experienced as a result of the single decision to start a family. I have constant fear that I don't actually know what's best for my child. Fear that I will fail him. Fear I'm unfit or that I missed the mothering gene. I'm a workaholic (don't even ask me how many jobs I have since becoming a SAHM) and sometimes I fear I am not physically and emotionally present with my son or even my husband. Should I work less? Should I work more? Am I providing enough sensory or social opportunities for my busy two year old yet keeping a routine for him at home? The narratives that form in my head around any and all shortcomings are rarely ever helpful and are a way of bullying myself instead of believing in myself. The only thing they accomplish is distracting me from today, what's right in front of me, what really matters. Let go of self-contempt, you're doing the best you can.
FREEDOM TO KNOW: Knowing can almost be scarier than not knowing. When we have a conviction about something regarding our kids, home, or the way we're doing life, we have the freedom to honor that conviction. Be it seemingly small or large. I know it's okay that the dishes and laundry wait while I play a game of tag with my son. I know it's okay that potty training is taking WAY longer than I had envisioned. I know it's okay that my son only ate yogurt and popcorn today (I feel like toddler picky eating will sometimes be the death of me!). I know it's okay to stay up way past midnight if it means I get a couple hours of silence/me time. It's okay right now that I can't take on more clients due to husbands work schedule. I know it's okay. It just is.
FREEDOM FROM MORE, MORE, MORE: The "More Monster" is lurking everywhere and his motto is More = Meaning.
More mail. More clothes. More square footage. More makeup. More books. More friends. More appointments. More decor. More food. More followers. More outings. More. More. More. Who else has fallen victim to the more monster?
All this "more" leaves us with: More pressure. More worries. More expectations. More exhaustion. More hustle. More debt. More frantic. More. More. More. I would say I am quite skilled at amassing more. I can be kind of mindless about it and before I even realize, I am suffering from "stuff-ocation". Every surface covered. Every drawer overflowing. My home left cluttered, but so is my soul. And that's when it hits me: "All this STUFF is making me feel EMPTY!" 'MORE' is not the source of meaning. In fact, what truly fills me up is clearing away all the extras. Instead of skimming the surface of more, more, more, I am invited to truly invest myself in less. That's where the meaning is hiding. It's taken several months for me to work through this process of "culling" if you will and the next point touches on this.
FREEDOM TO MAKE CHANGES: Have you ever found yourself in a situation or relationship that you knew was unhealthy for you, and yet you weren't sure if you had the permission to rescue yourself? Too many times I've given too many chances, waiting for someone to come and save me instead of doing the hard, conflicting, nuanced work of taking personal responsibility for my own life. I've forgotten my own strength, my own voice, my own resolve, my own intuition my own free will. This forgetting has resulted in protractive pain that could have been avoided had I chosen my own health over my own fear, insecurity, and silence. You have the right to make changes in your life. You have the right to make changes in that toxic relationship. You have the right to change a parenting strategy. You have the right to reorder your life. Commit to caring more about how it feels on the inside than how it looks on the outside. Start using your "no" and invest in your "yes!"
FREEDOM TO CONTINUE: To continue is to be consistent, faithful, undistracted...which is no small thing. The word begs us to worry about showing up and less about showing off. How do you define or measure "success" in your career, parenting, etc. then? You continue. Continue being faithful in the small. Continue being faithful in the unseen. Continue laughing. Continue loving. Continue snuggling. Continue nourishing. Continue reading. Continue holding. Continue apologizing. Continue modeling. Continue teaching. Continue creating. Continue affirming. Continue believing. Continue hoping.
FREEDOM TO BE ON YOUR OWN TEAM: Being hard on yourself seems almost chic these days. Like it's trendy to self-deprecate and self loathe. I can't tell you how many circles of women I've been in where everyone is literally taking a turn expressing how they are feeling less-than. EVERY ONE has soul-bullying, toxic voices in our heads. They are a tag-a-long on our journey throughout life but that doesn't mean they have to be in charge. We will never be able to outrun the toxic voices, and when we try, we begin acting false in order to prove those voices wrong. So we need to acknowledge their presence and then keep them in their place. Try this exercise:
1. Write down everything the toxic voice is saying to you. Listen - like a reporter - to what you're hearing in your head. Perhaps the voice is really the voice of your mother, your partner, etc. Write down all the belittling, besetting, bullying remarks.
2. Talk back - write back - to those toxic voices. Tell them you understand they have some things to say but these will not be the truths that guide your life and your behavior; because they are based in condemnation, which only ever keeps us stuck.
3. Keep writing - Keep talking back about who you reall are and who you really want to be. Have the last word.
You might be surprised by what surfaces in your writing. Doing this kind of work requires attention. We capture the toxic thought that is streaming into our consciousness and we hold it up, examine it, instead of perpetuating it. We see if the thought is actually helpful, generative, grace-filled. And then we gently talk back. This is called being on your own team; standing up for the truth about yourself, being your own advocate instead of your own adversary.
FREEDOM TO BECOME: Life is messy and outrageously inefficient at times and yet, the detours, desert wanderings, dark nights of the soul and dead ends tend to be our best teachers. When willing to become more truly yourself, inner work includes friction and fumbling. But, it also includes ever-expanding freedom. This work enables us to cast light, instead of shadows on the people we love most. We become aware of our wounds and our wonder, our brokenness and our beauty, our triggers and our treasures. We are willing to look at the parts of ourselves that we'd prefer remained unexamined. But we are also willing to look at the parts of ourselves that we've buried because we were afraid of our own greatness. THIS is the art of becoming. Do you feel the freedom to become, to grow into your own soul, to expand into the YOU that's always been inside but hasn't been nurtured or honored? Are you ready to embrace the dirt and the divine that is in you? Are you longing to shed the false skins that mask and mute what all of us need most from you? Engage in the holy tussle of transformation!
FREEDOM TO BE STILL: I was having strong convictions about how I wanted to order my life; convictions that seemed consistent with what I believe and with the kind of person I wanted to be and with the kind of people I want to raise. These strong convictions, however, don't always align with the hustle, hustle, hustle of our culture. My injury caused me to put my hustle life on hold and just listen. Listen to myself. Listen to God. Listen to my convictions. It's okay to do it your way. It's okay to invest in a quieter life. Do you know what listening requires? Listening requires stillness.
What an impossible commodity stillness is at this stage of life. Laughable, really! If I get still, I immediately run the risk of falling asleep or getting licked on the arm by a child. Not ideal. I've come to realize that even when stillness is not available to me externally, I can still choose to nurture something quieter and smaller internally. I can nurture awareness. I can nurture peace. I can turn my ear toward the voice that wants to guide me and love me, instead of the voice that so often wants to push me and panic me. Get still to that same extent that life gets noisy, chaotic, crowded, and hurried. We must discern. Opportunities, ideas, information, input are all constantly at our fingertips, but some of the most important and transformational work we do happens in stillness and silence. I believe a life that grows out of quiet, tended places will be a well-rooted life.
Being still is a private practice that no one can see or applaud, a discipline done in the shadows. Not super sexy and yet, super centering. How could you incorporate the discipline of listening into your life in 2018? You don't have to have a weekend retreat in order to listen. All you need is the willingness to meet (and not numb) what you hear.
I've never been much of a New Year's Resolution kind of gal but what I'm planning for 2018 is to ask myself, "Does this spark joy?" and really tap into some 'soul care'. I believe this will ensure I have a year not full of just BUSY but a year full of everything that is breathtaking. What are your New Years Resolutions?