One afternoon, almost a year ago, is when things began to change for me. I suppose it had all been in motion for awhile, but it really came to a head that December afternoon in the very middle of a department store. There were relationships in my life that were not healthy. I had not been taking care of myself physically, emotionally, spiritually. None of my clothes fit me anymore. So I found myself in a fitting room under fluorescent lights, and a little worse for the wear.
It was a hard place to be. I hung up a shirt I had tried on, a size or two bigger than what I wanted it to be, and I just felt sad. All of the things just sort of hit me in that moment. And I cried. Have you ever been in that place? Maybe not a fitting room, but a closet when your kids are going crazy, a bathroom when you just need one moment to yourself, in your office, in your car at school pickup, laying in bed at night?
I looked myself in the mirror and said, “You are not helpless. Knock it off and change something.” I would like to say that the initial motivation to be healthy was spiritual but honestly, it was mostly rooted in anger and insecurity. After about a week I realized this time wouldn’t be different than any other time I tried and failed if I didn’t dig out the root of this junk and do the hard work.
So it’s been a year of hard work. Healthy eating, exercise, devoted time hearing from God, intentional friendships, having more realistic expectations of myself and others, and taking an antidepressant. I’ve had to learn who I am all over again. I read that this happens to some of us in our mid to late thirties, when our kids are growing up and we come out of the exhausted baby phase.
I’ve written this multiple times, in more detail or with different angles shown, but I feel like now is the time to share these words in this way. Maybe it’s because resolution time is coming. Maybe it’s because someone else is feeling the same way and just needs to know it really can be ok again. I don’t know. But here’s what I say to the tired, lonely, hurting moms…
You need to take care of yourself. No one is going to give you a gold star for having the cleanest house, most neatly folded laundry, or matchy-matchy kids. Christ-following ladies? Jesus Himself stepped out of the fray and spent time with the Father. You are not better than Jesus and you need to rest too. I look at you with compassion and love and wish I could come to your house with coffee for you and melatonin for your children. But I can’t. You can get yourself some good coffee, though. And you can do some research on melatonin. Make time for yourself. Make time for God. You and I cannot do this life on our own. There are days when we look at our kids and think that surely there is a better mother out there for them, but can I tell you something? God didn’t think so because He gave those kids to YOU. Make a doctor’s appointment if you think you are depressed. I did, and I am so glad. Everyone around me is, too.
There were days and weeks when I slipped up, when exercise didn’t happen or I ate crap food or I didn’t communicate well with people around me. I will need to actively choose health for as long as I’m here and I won’t always do things right. I am so grateful for the grace of God in my life-that He knows I will fall and is there to pick me up. He’s wherever we fall. He’s the one who causes the rising, and the one who keeps us up. He’s been faithful to me, and I know He can be for you, too.
I was in that same store just a few days ago. I walked past the dressing room that saw my tears, and I thanked God for not giving up on me. He’s good to us, friends. He hasn’t given up on you, either.