|Posted by Lauren Sparks on May 8, 2014 at 3:05 PM|
This has been a really busy semester. Taking care of the kids, running the household, church, helping lead life group, teaching classes at the gym, volunteering at church, volunteering at the school, Allie’s sports, Shelby’s therapies and doctor’s appointments and various other things that come up. I feel the urge to take a nap just looking at the list. I am a very task oriented person. I feel a deep sense of satisfaction when I complete items on my to-do list. If my list gets too long, it stresses me out, so procrastinating is out of the question. But I am also an extrovert. I am energized by relationships. These two aspects of my personality are often counterproductive. I made the mistake few months ago of adding a couple of committments to my schedule without releasing any of my prior responsibilities. I reluctantly took on the task of coaching my daughter’s volleyball team. And I am so glad I did. I LOVED it. And I’m not suggesting that I definitely needed to shirk anything else on my plate, but I should have at least evaluated, prayed and sought counsel on it. Even if I determined that God was in all of my current endeavors and needed me to continue to serve; I could have prayed for a helper or given Allie more responsibilities at home or asked Chuck for more help with paperwork or household tasks. Instead, I chose to fasten my super hero cape on a little tighter and shoulder it all. Lest you think this sounds noble, you should have seen the fuming and stewing and stressing. You should have heard the words uttered under my breath. If you have been reading my blog for long, you know that asking for help is not easy for me. I’m working on it. But it’s still not my first instinct. So instead, I to started cutting things out of my life that nourish me. Not chores and tasks that stress me out. Noooo. By all means, let’s hang onto those. But I stopped finding time for yoga except when I was teaching it. And in case you are wondering, neglecting your personal practice does not a very good yoga teacher make. I stopped blogging and doing word search puzzles (don’t laugh – they relax me). My time to read – which I TREASURE – dwindled to a few minutes in bed before I would pass out with the book in my hand. I still had my daily bible reading and prayer time with God (I AM a task oriented person after all), but it became much shorter and hurried. And I slowly began to loose my intimacy with God, my husband, and my children as I became this flash running from here to there. I barely recognize that person.
One of the most crippling mistakes I made was eliminating time with my friends. I did not initially consciously make this decision, but rather it evolved as I felt myself stretching thinner and thinner. I had become the social planner in the group, tending to me the one to extend an invitation to lunch, or a girls’ night out or dinner at my house. But as my 24 hour days started feeling shorter and shorter, I decided to stop planning – because that takes time and effort that I didn’t think I could afford. I would, however, certainly still accept invitations from others if at all possible. Except the invitations didn’t come. As weeks went on, I began to feel lonely, isolated and withdrawn. I began to question whether or not I had overestimated the quality of my friendships. I became so miserable that I put my to-do list on hold and asked a friend to coffee – one I knew would speak truth to me. She helped me see that I was making some assumptions. One assumption was that my friends would pick up where I left off with extending invitations when they were accustomed to them coming from me. Who knows? When I stopped calling and texting THEY may have assumed that I was too busy or didn’t care to spend time with them. And I also assumed that friends my age with kids the same age as mine were not as busy as me. When in fact, some of them are busier. Sigh. You know what they say about assumptions… “…the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18b. So thankful for this sweet sister in Christ who also spoke to me about the importance for someone like me to have hang time with friends who build me up, encourage me, and make me a better person (“As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.” Proverbs 27:17 NLT). This becomes even MORE important when I am pouring myself out in ministry, in volunteering, in the lives of my children and their friends and into my husband. Lest I become empty, I need to set aside time to be filled – to spend time with those who make me feel energized, not drained, when I leave them. This is not just fun time for me. This is necessary refueling for the minitries of my life. I’m writing this as a reminder to myself, but also as a warning to all my mom friends this Mother’s Day weekend. I think Moms often tend to do for others until they are done – leaving little time to rest and replenish. This can be especially true for mother’s of a special needs or medically fragile child. We can tend to feel alone and isolate ourselves as we focus with laser precision on our child’s issues and neglect relationships, hobbies and interests. Although determining to make time for yourself won’t give you another hour in the day, realizing how important it is to your emotional health and functioning may help you prioritize it. I’m praying for rest and fulfillment for you, friends. And if I haven’t said it in a while, thank you for allowing me to share with you what I’m learning in this journey. And MAYBE with your prayers and encouragement, I can stop shooting myself in the foot so I can RUN this race instead of limping along.