Giving Ourselves Permission…

HeartinHands

I’ve been struggling with time.

Like so many of us there just doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to do all that I would like to do, or feel I ‘should’ do.

There’s that word, should!

The one word that seems to have the power to weigh us down, keep us stuck, and rob us of the joy we could experience from what we do do.

Having journeyed through the last two years, one of mostly darkness, I am all too aware of over-commitment and filling my time with tasks, whether essential, routine, worthy, or simply something I want to do. For me right now there are: Children, Grandchildren, a husband, a home, and work, exercise which ought to be done, good nutrition which my body and my family need, and study. Not to mention church and home group and keeping touch or providing support to extended family and friends. It can be exhausting just thinking about it all let alone trying to fit it all in.

In coming to a place in my life where I finally felt alive again and renewed, I am most fearful of over- filling my days, over extending myself to the point of sacrificing the vitality and contentment that comes from removing all the chatter and chaos in my life. Creating space to listen to my heart and soul; providing room to create, to write, to dream, to be inspired and to follow God’s call upon my life in whatever form that means.

It’s amazing how when we speak of ‘self-care’, which is what all this really relates to, we often feel selfish. Yet it reminds me of the pre-flight emergency drill when the steward instructs us to, “put on your oxygen mask first before helping others”. Self-care recharges us so that we ultimately have more to give. For those of us who are natural nurturers, carers, and givers, that is what brings us contentment and joy. That ‘sweet spot’ where we know that is what we are made for, yet we can so easily give to our detriment until we have nothing left.

I am so thankful for precious friends in my life who speak wisdom and help bring clarity to the muddle of conflicting thoughts and desires within my head and heart.

My dilemma has been study. I came out of a year of darkness with renewed energy, a new sense of self and a new vision to help others…So, I enrolled in University. The new found space and peace became filled with lectures, reading, assignments, deadlines and exams. I love what I’m studying but as my good friend reminded me, if what we are doing is supposed to be for enjoyment but it really just adds stress and pressure, then it’s not right at this point in time.

My struggle is, I’m not a quitter. If anything I will see something through even if it kills me. But I don’t want to sacrifice my precious days gritting my teeth and holding on anymore just so that I can say, “I finished it”. Life is too short and our families are too precious to lose even a minute on being distracted, stressed and tired from over-commitment.

University could take me 10 years if I progress at the pace I am currently, a pace that enables me to somewhat accommodate work and family. That’s a long time to be stressed and torn between priorities, I know I’ve done that before and it led to disaster.

I’ve considered changing courses from a Degree to a Diploma, something I can finish in 2 years, a more achievable timeframe, and a more self-directed rather than deadline driven mode of study. A worthy, realistic option which would meet the same goal; studying what I love yet without some of the pressure. But I have to challenge myself, “is this more about not seeing myself as a failure than listening to what I really need right now?”

I came alive again when I had the time and energy to be a mum and focus on creating a home that was warm and safe and inviting to all who live there and all who enter its doors. It may seem strange to some, but I come alive being able to cook and clean for and nurture my family. I was renewed by time in the sun soaking up God’s goodness in creation.

God’s been calling me to greater devotion and my struggle has been ‘how’, ‘when’, and ‘what does that look like anyway’. I’ve tried to reshuffle, reprioritise, even get up earlier but still time seems to elude me.

I came away from my friend yesterday knowing I already knew the answer but I didn’t want to allow myself to accept it. I wouldn’t give myself permission to meet my own needs in this present moment. She helped me to do that. To give myself permission to take some time, put study on hold, and allow the healing process to continue instead of simply pushing through.

God speaks to us in many ways and guides our hearts towards His will, whether through the words of a friend or the yearning of our hearts, if we listen and stop doubting and analysing ourselves we will know the answer to what we need. It will be like a burden is lifted and we can breathe easy again, our step is lightened and once again we can move forward. At least this is how I felt.

I doubt that this is the end of study for me, it’s more a pause in the journey, but for now I am going to enjoy some time to love on my family and make our house a home, and I pray be a blessing to whomever God brings into my path.

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