self-care and mom-guilt: aren’t they the same thing?

photo-1479888912530-af5a74b7adeaThe horrible trap of having young kids is that most of the time you are focusing on one thing: survival. Everyone tells you that it goes fast, and they’re only little so long, so enjoy it now, dang it. And then your kids grow up and you’re running a million places and dealing with them as mini adults. No one can truly prepare you for any of those things.

No matter what age your kids are, or even if you don’t have kids at all, we’re all being pulled. We’re trying to do a million things at once and do them all well. We’re trying to make everyone happy, love our husbands, run a household, work a whole other job, maybe even serve in our church, hopefully have some other relationships outside of the home… oh, and take care of ourselves.

That whole “self-care” thing.

I’m not an expert. But I do believe that something that our culture is finally catching onto as valuable is something God’s been trying to teach us since day one. This idea that “You can’t pour out of an empty cup”. Unfortunately, most of us are pouring out of empty cups on an insanely consistent basis. It’s actually possible. But only for so long. I know you’ve been there. All of the sudden, it catches up to you and you realize you’ve been giving of your time and energy for so long, and you are just done. You are empty and depleted and suddenly, nothing is possible.

The bottom line is, it comes down to our choices. We’ve believed the lie that we are so busy, we run ourselves into the ground and all of it is out of our control. Guilt has consumed us and it feels like the only natural thing to feel anymore. We feel guilty for not spending time with our husband, and then when we do, we feel guilty for leaving the kids. We feel guilty for enjoying quiet moments because we’ve accepted the lie that we can’t really enjoy anything.

The truth is: no matter what kind of self-care we try to work toward, if we aren’t filling ourselves up with Jesus, our cup will remain empty.

Should you get your nails done and indulge on a fancy latte once in a while? Yes. Should you take a vacation with your family? Yes, please, Jesus. Should you turn a blind eye to your laundry from time to time and watch a few episodes of Parenthood? I hope so, because that’s what I did yesterday. It’s so valuable to breathe and do things that are fun and give us joy.

But if we’re bypassing true rest and a connection with our Creator, we will continue to come up empty. Investing in yourself; taking time for you and God is not selfish. Your body is His dwelling place on earth.

Neglecting yourself is not honorable; it actually dishonors God.

He created you in His image.

Your body houses His spirit.

He took time to make you and knit you together.

He cares about how you feel; physically, emotionally, spiritually.

This isn’t just about saying “no” to responsibility. We can’t reduce this idea to just “me time.” I need space and I need time without anyone needing anything from me to not go crazy, but if it’s just about me, I come back to my family just as empty. Whatever you are pouring out has to be refilled by the Well that never runs dry.

Whether they know it or not, those whom you love need this from you. They need a whole version of you, not an empty, worn out one. They need you to be strengthened by the Source of strength, not a counterfeit of fake energy.

How do we do this in real life?

We’ve got to prioritize. We’ve got to be intentional with what we’re doing: why, where, and when. Maybe bring some friends or mentors into the conversation and ask them how they refuel. Our God is spiritual, but He made us human. And He’s given us practical ideas and ways to think about living our life fully.

And we’ve just got to shut down the guilt. We’ll never truly live if we keep ourselves under this shadow of guilt no matter what we’re doing. It’s not helpful, and it’s not from God. He never asked us to be Superwoman. So let’s quit killing ourselves trying to be.

Accept help. Breathe. Pause. And live.

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your every day, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for Him.”       Romans 12:1-2 msg

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