Sanity and Soul-Care

“When the well’s dry, we know the worth of water.”  ~ Benjamin Franklin

My sanity is still messy, but it’s a restful sort of messy.

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I will never forget the lessons I learned from my mom as I watched her go about life when I was a young girl. She is the most selfless, strong, servant-hearted women I know. Growing up, she integrated teachings from Scripture in sweet and tangible ways.

One of the most priceless lessons my mother taught me was the value of soul-care and self awareness. Through example, she taught me to begin with self-awareness, and then to implement healthy boundaries. She taught me that soul-care paired with selflessness is key to living a full life.

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As she laid down her life for us daily, she also beautifully tended her soul. I will never forget watching her get ready for her date nights with my dad, or listening to her talk about her upcoming spa treatment, or watching her pack for a short vacation without us.

It was common to find her in a quiet space doing her Bible study. She knew what brought her life and she was sure to intentionally steep in those life-giving activities with the Lord.

I never resented her for shutting the door on us to reel in these moments with the Lord. As an adult, I now know that I actually felt more secure as I saw her take care of herself. I knew she would be there quickly and completely when I needed her. I knew she would have more life in her to pour out. I trusted her emphatically as a result of seeing her recognize her own needs and tend to them appropriately.

And she knew that in order to give her life away, she must have a life to begin with.

I’m learning a new value for soul-care and self-awareness now. Without embracing this wisdom my mother taught me, my well would run dry.

There is this martyr mentality among mothers that says our sole purpose in life is to give of ourselves to our own detriment. There is a dangerous mindset that exists that mistakes “motherhood” with “personhood”….do not get me wrong, motherhood is an anchoring part of one’s identity. It is a sacred calling that should not be taken lightly. But when motherhood becomes synonymous with personhood, we have lost sight of the root of our identity. We are God’s chosen ones. His royal priesthood. God’s instruments in this world.

And as His creations, our entire beings require nurturing and exercise: bodies, minds, and souls.

Yes, we are mamas. And mamahood is one of the most powerful roles we will ever fulfill.

We are also wives, spouses, friends, daughters, sisters, co-workers, and employers. We are leaders, followers, supporters, teachers, and learners.

But first and foremost, we are God’s daughters. And He delights in us and wants for us to tend the garden of our hearts so that we can absorb His love and distribute it in great measure. We need to nurture our hearts and our souls so that our love for others, particularly our children, will be from an overflow and not from empty, obligatory guilt.

And children will know the difference.

In order to tend our souls, we must understand how God designed us. How He breathes life into our individual souls.

The way He brings me life is vastly different than the way He brings my husband life. It has been important for me to embrace the intricacies of my personality and apply my self-knowledge wisely.

I am keenly aware when an activity does not bring me life. I am a chronic under-committer. I do this because I know being busy and overly-scheduled sucks the life from my bones. When I do have to engage in situations, schedules, or patterns that are draining, I create margin for rest.

This may mean I turn my bathroom into a spa, or spend an extra evening writing, or exercising. I will pay for a babysitter in order to get this time, because letting my soul run dry is not in the heart of God for me. He wants me to enjoy my life.

And He wants me to pour out authentic, powerful Love.

This is a fundamental reality that I want to model to my children. That our souls require tending. And so I will do what gives me energy and feeds my soul. I will take vacations by myself. I will shut my door and spend time with God. I will save my pennies and get spa treatments. I will leave my baby with a friend so I can enjoy a night out with my husband. I will hire a sitter just to eat a salad in silence.

Because my baby deserves that kind of love.

Lord, heighten my self-awareness. Help me to discern when it is time to step away and when it is time to engage. Forgive me for striving in life when my soul actually needed to rest in You. Thank you for feeding my soul in such wonderfully tangible, yummy ways.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” 3 John 1:2

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” Romans 12:1-2

“So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his. Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.” Hebrews 4:9-11

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