That’s probably not something you’ll hear from anyone who puts any kind of time and energy into their blog, and you’re maybe a little confused. You can’t know how many times over the past few months I have tried to write this post and then deleted it. I’m getting super tired of doing that, so here goes… Real talk, because that’s important.
*Heads up to everyone looking for a home renovation tip : This isn’t it, but probably worth your 5 minutes. Stick with me.
Long story kinda short, I herniated a disc in my back two years ago. I have tried everything to avoid surgery – physical therapy, steroid injections, medication. Ever since those good loosen-everything-up-pregnancy-hormones went away after Natalie was born, the pain has been really debilitating. I haven’t been able to exercise or even push my kids in a stroller around the neighborhood without paying for it dearly. (Hellloooooo Post-Partum Depression. That’s another post for another day. Praise the Good Lord for modern medicine is all I’ll say about that for now.) After almost a year of basically not recognizing myself or doing many of the things I love due to pain, Andrew and I decided together that surgery was the way to go. I am currently 9 days out, and having almost zero pain! It was a good decision.
I would like to consider myself a strong woman. For example, I would not be the one in the Hunger Games running for the trees. I’d Katniss Everdeen that thing all the way to the bitter end. My first response to anything “hard” is to warrior-up. Put on your big girl pants and muscle through – mentally or physically – whatever it is. But this past year has beaten me down. It has been the pit of a valley I have not been able to warrior through. I remember such joy this past January with the birth of our Natalie. But I also remember the many months afterwards trying to keep my head above water only to wake up the next day to feel like another tidal wave was sucking me under. And you know what? That is okay because that is life. Nobody said it was easy (just ask Coldplay).
We have a funny saying in my family… “Help yourself!” Most of the time it is said in jest when we watch each other goof up normal, everyday things like dropping a stack of dishes, trip up the stairs, etc. But the guts of the saying means “sometimes circumstances aren’t ideal, but it’s your responsibility to do the things you can at that present time to better those circumstances”. This year has been less than ideal, and figuring out how to help myself became a priority. When the man in the ocean starts to drown, suddenly his priorities are very clear and simple: Figure out what it takes to not drown. Figure out what gives life.
I’ll tell you what I have uncovered over the last few months. And I wouldn’t be wasting your time by posting this if I didn’t think it could help you in some way too…
Do the things that give you life.
I am a Christian, and this means listening to the One who gave me life. Listening to God Almighty who created me and knows me better than I know myself… hearing what He has to say about who He is and what that means about who I am. It means reading His word, on the good days and the bad days, so that I can know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He promises He will never leave me. That He can work good in all things. That apart from His strength, I am a poorly equipped warrior in this life. That HE alone is the victor, and that all I need to do is get behind Him and watch Him fight the battles for me. That taking pride in my muscle and my determination is a sure way to lose. This life is not about me. This life is about how the One who made me can best show His wonderful character through me. And if that means a year (or years) of “the valley” as opposed to “mountain top”, so be it. It is okay because there is life abundant in the valley.
Doing what gives me life also means shutting out some of the noise so that I can focus on what’s important. I’ll tell you the noisiest thing in my life (apart from my 3 year old)… Social media. Facebook, Instagram, lifestyle blogs… I personally have a really hard time focusing on what my Maker says about my days when I am looking at someone else’s day. And truly, most of the time I am not covetous of others’ lives. I just like pretty, shiny, new things and ideas. As the mom of 2 small kids, sometimes it is so refreshing to look at something besides Cheerios and laundry detergent. I love that I can jump on my phone and have a better understanding of what’s in style, healthier recipes, ideas for the house, things for the kids, etc. But, if I’m not careful, I dip my toes into a river that will absolutely and without fail sweep me up and carry me away from the things that should be my #1 priority. Remember that saying “sin takes you farther than you ever want to go”? What begins as the sin of distraction quickly becomes the sin of conceit and comparison. Without even realizing it, I have twisted my heart and mind into knots of complete exhaustion by focusing on people I don’t even know! How ridiculous is that?! I can only imagine how the Deceiver must delight in the ridiculous accessibility we have to a head full of exhausting comparison. No, I have not deleted Instagram off my phone. But I do have a header over the app icon that says “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Phil. 2:3) because I am determined to discipline this part of my weak nature with the help of God’s Word. I am helping myself.
All this brings me back to the title of this post… If this blog is a place where you come to distract yourself from what you know you should be doing, a place where you leave feeling like you or your house or your family are not enough, I hope you never click on my page again. We all need to make space for the things that give us life, not suck the life out of us. As this holiday season approaches, I hope you will get quiet with yourself and ask the One who made you what your priorities should be. It can be so tempting, especially this time of year, to spend all our energy trying to measure up. This will eventually result in a fall into the trench of comparison, despair, and defeat because there will always be someone who has more, is doing it better, or makes it look easier. But I’ll be the first one to smile and link arms with you under the banner of “Life is messy, but there is hope”. If you’d like to talk about this more, please send me an email or comment below.
Thank you for following along!