It’s FALL, y’all! Supposedly. I mean, it’s still a million degrees in my beloved hometown, but whatever. It’s my favorite time of year! I can’t even deal. I’m pretty much done with summer and showing the world my arms, so I’m just gonna move it right along. I love everything about Fall – pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin spice teas, pumpkin spice candles, pumpkin spice breads, vegetables, body wash…you name it. Just kidding. Not really…but kinda (I draw the line at pumpkin spice deodorant). But let’s get real – everything is laced with pumpkin and spice. If they made pumpkin spice markers, I would sniff them. Look, I’m just gonna say it. If you don’t love Fall and everything that comes with it (college football), I question your salvation. I’m pretty sure heaven smells like Fall. And I’m pretty sure that when Hobby Lobby puts their Fall and Christmas décor out for the masses, I’m checking out of real life.
One thing I’m not looking forward to, however, is my annual coughing-up-a-lung bronchitis/sinus infection/walking pneumonia trifecta. Last year I hung onto that triple-threat with all my might for a solid six months. SIX (6). Six months of getting swabbed and poked and x-rayed and rubbing essential oils on my big toe and and barking like a dog in the middle of church. I for real bruised my ribs, you guys. But seriously, there has got to be a better way to see if I have strep or the flu than to stick that giant needle-of-a-Qtip up my nose and down my throat. Not only do they literally take a piece of my sinuses, but they take a piece of my dignity every single time. Forever traumatized.
And is that not the longest 5 seconds of your life??
Last time I had it done, I actually went home, took a nap, baked a cake and recovered from all my sickly conditions while they were still swabbing me. Like, draw a gallon of blood, cut off my fingernails, water-board me, anything but the swab. And at least YouTube that junk so we can make some money off of it. Somebody should at least reap the benefits of this heinous procedure. Like, please make sure you grab a shot of me gagging as I’m white-knuckling the arm of my seat. Don’t leave that out. If they would only make a pumpkin spice nasal spray maybe, just maybe, I could make it through my physical dysfunction without hating life. (Get on that, somebody. It’s all you.)
Fingers crossed this year is different. I don’t know if I can handle it again. Sickness and single-mom-life mix like eggs and ketchup (some of y’all need to quit doing that). See, when I’m down, it all goes down. Am I right? The house goes down, the kids go down, the laundry goes down, my work goes down – pretty much everything but my weight goes down. I seem to hang onto that like it’s the last bite of a death row meal. And who’s got the time? Not me.
Although, and here’s the silver lining – every time I’m down for the count, I’m forced to take care of myself – something I’m learning to do a little more frequently these days. I don’t always succeed, but I’m learning that if I don’t take care of me, I’m no good to anybody else. And I’m talking mind, body and soul. If we are depleted and exhausted mentally, physically, and spiritually – what can we give? A whole lot of not-much. I should know. I’ve learned the hard way. I tried it…and I went down in a blaze of glory.
My learning season followed a three year stretch of straight-up survival mode. I separated from my husband, moved four times, went through a divorce, got a full-time job, continued to do my music and all the while raising my children. Before that, I even tried homeschooling for a year (key word – TRIED). I was always last on my list. And it’s hard to find time to dedicate to ourselves – especially guilt-free. We are innately taught that complete self-sacrifice at the expense of our own well-being is the way to go, but after the time I’ve gone through, I’m anything but convinced.
I know that God wants me to be my whole self – the person He has created me to be. I know that He has put me on this earth to love people and pour into others, especially my children. But how can I do that if I am neglecting my own mind, my own heart, body, soul and spirit? How can I pour out if I’m not being filled up? The answer is, I can’t.
Until I find my rest and wholeness in the One who made me, I’m no good to anybody. I have to find my rest, joy and peace in Jesus.
Sometimes I have to just stop the stress. I have to turn up the music while I’m cooking dinner. I have to drop everything and play my instruments and write. I have to read. I have to spend time with the Lord. I have to be silly and dance with my kids. I have to sit down sometimes and watch My 600 Pound Life (I mean…Joyce Meyer) and eat a spoonfull of pumpkin spice cookie dough (I mean…carrots and ranch) while I’m doing it. I have to go to bed at 9:00 sometimes (old). I have to get in my soaker tub and say, “I love you more than the air I breathe, but I’m going to need for you to not say my name for a hot minute. Mommy is pretending she’s in Europe at a 5-Star Hotel. Ok? Brilliant! I’ll be with you in a bit.”
I also have to spend time with people who are good for my mental health. Friends. Family. We talk deep but we act stupid and we go out to lunch and shop and laugh and talk about Jesus and mistakes and fashion and design. They are life to me and they are necessary for my thriving. They are a part of my recharging and renewal.
We have to do things and be with people that help us rejuvenate. What works for me may not work for you. You may not feel one bit better after a 45 minute (2 1/2 hour) bath. You may need to go for a run (for sure no). You may need to sleep or draw or bake or work on your car or ride your bike or stare at the walls. And like the T-shirt says, “Take the trip. Buy the shoes. Eat the cake.” Whatever your God-given means of rest and rejuvenation is, do it.
I’m committed in this new season of my life to being the best version of myself I can be (but I’m still gonna eat donuts sometimes). I’m dedicated to loving myself enough to regroup and slow down and find my center. I’m weak. I just cannot do it on my own. And neither can you. You’re not a superhero (sometimes you are). But God is the ultimate superhero, and even HE rested…
We need Jesus. We need Him to fill us up so we can keep going and giving. Sometimes we need to stop so we can go. Receive so we can give. I’m so grateful that when I’m a fragile piece-of-meltdown, He’s my strength and foundation. And I’m thanking Him today for His Word that empowers me to find my rest, joy and peace in Him. Nothing else offers it like Jesus (but my soaker tub is a really close second). 😉