The other morning I drank my coffee while in the shower. You know about that, right? In the harried moments of rushing around, trying to accomplish multiple things at once, but still… priorities. How else do I find the strength to lovingly embrace my child instead of tossing him out the window when he whines incessantly? Parents who can still do that without ingesting coffee are hiding another secret. Like a marijuana crop. Or a large, pointy horn on their forehead. Well, congrats to those plant-loving unicorns. I am not one of them. And I’ll just add here that it’s okay if you judge me for drinking coffee while pregnant. I’ll continue to smile as I pour myself another cup and fill it with delicious, artificially flavored creamer. This baby is going to come out with his own personalized mug gripped tightly in his chubby fist.
As a hardcore introvert, finding space for myself in the midst of motherhood and marriage can be tough to come by sometimes. The shower doesn’t usually count since I only experience it every few days, and even then it’s often accompanied by loud cries of “MOOOOM, WHEEERE AAARE YOUUUUU??”, and a barrage of banging fists on the locked door, even though dad is on point. My youngest son is currently going through a season of separation anxiety, so even something as simple as taking a shower sets off a code red in his brain.
This period of my life is not congruent with personal space. But as difficult as it is to come by, it is oh so very important for my mental health. My husband, God bless his observant heart, has come to recognize this important need. He can usually catch the signs early, but sometimes the fireworks start shooting before he has a chance to mitigate the blast. This afternoon was a good example of what to do. A good friend and her daughter had just left our house after a lovely visit. He came down the stairs and could tell that I was exhausted and chock-full of sensory data, so he suggested that I go upstairs and lay down for a while. I did not argue. He’s a good man.
Have you identified what your “space” is? And what I mean by that is, do you recognize the ways in which you become re-energized and renewed? Mine come in the form of alone time. Sometimes I can be recharged by quality one-on-one time with a dear friend, but that’s not the norm. People’s needs vary based on their personality, so understanding the types of activity and people that provide you that energy source is important. Otherwise you may find yourself dying a slow death. Does that sound a little extreme? Well little Susie’s Barbie Jeep isn’t gonna fly down the flat streets of the cul-de-sac at its solid 3 mph with a dying battery, much less up the hills OF LIFE. The same is true for all of us. If you keep burning the candle at both ends without carving out the time you need for yourself in order to be able to function at full speed, you will find that pushing the gas pedal gets you nowhere fast. And you aren’t doing anyone any favors by being a total jerk while checking off your to-do list.
I realize that this idea of creating “me time” sounds incredibly cliche and even selfish. It seems like just about every other article I read contains some mention of this concept. The truth is, though, that your health depends on it- mental and physical. Are you an extrovert? Gather your people. Are you an introvert? Run from the people. Are you a single parent that doesn’t have many options? I bow down to you. Can you “time-share” your kids with a friend or family member? Or occupy them with their favorite movie and all the unhealthy snacks while you (or you and your friends) escape to another room for a while? There is no shame in that!
Didn’t Jesus create space for himself? Time specifically for the purpose of personal renewal? Uh, yes. Yes, he absolutely did.
“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” -Mark 1:35
“Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” -Luke 5:16
“Because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, [Jesus] said to [his disciples], ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’ So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.” -Mark 6:31-32
Guys, if the Son of God needed it and also advocated it for his followers, it must be important! But here’s the most critical piece- whatever your “space” is, take the time to invite God’s presence into it. Whether you’re with friends or alone- ask God to join you. You don’t need to make a big show of it or give all your time to a lengthy prayer (unless you feel that’s exactly what your heart needs, of course). Keep it simple. Ask the Lord to enter the space and speak life into your weariness through your solitary activity or through the words and actions of those you’re with. Then consciously focus on the joy and peace of the moments you have to spend by yourself or with others.
Because the full measure of rest and renewal comes by way of HIM. Along with focused time spent through prayer and studying Scripture, He can and does use our favorite hobbies or people to achieve this purpose. I can tell you honestly that just taking the time to write this has refilled my cup to the brim. In this very moment I feel like today’s cracks in my heart and mind have been sealed up because I have taken the opportunity to spend some time doing what I love and inviting God into the process.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” –Isaiah 40:29-31
God knows us, guys. A creator understands all the working elements and intimate details of his or her creation. Jesus, in his glorious humanity, needed his “space,” as do we in ours need the same. So it’s okay. Allow yourself- and even fight for- that gift of time and embrace it. Pray into it. Rejoice over it. Then step back into the crazy with a heart that’s steady and set for the course.
Peace & Love, Amy