In returning to a long overdue promise, I’m back to one of the questions I presented in my previous post.
A question I spend a lot of time seeking answers for is “What does true rest look like in the busy life of a single mom?” Or for any person, really. It can be so hard to understand what true rest looks like, harder still to find it.
I find myself way too often asking God “When is it my turn?” I feel like my life pours out for three young souls; busy for any parent, but it feels crushing sometimes as a single one. My life is shaped around the needs of others; all the normal things of raising kids… school work and activities, mountains of laundry, mouths that are usually talking or eating. The beautiful, crazy chaos of constant motion. But the tremendous desire I carry is to nurture their hearts so well. To model for them how to love well, look to God for their everything, to delight in Him and love the walk. For them to know who they are, how phenomenal they are…. the nightly backrubs, prayer and blessings. And then I say, “What about me?” Who helps fill me up? I have to be intentional to make sure I’m nurturing me, and whew, where does one find time for that? I don’t have anyone pouring into my tank. Or do I?
To be sure, much of this sounds like a pity party. Everyone’s life carries challenges and lonely places. Over and over I am told “Put your oxygen mask on first, then your kids.” But that takes time. Intentionality. Effort, courage and energy. I found as of late that when I am feeling overburdened and weary; maxed out; I find myself scrambling to find ways to fill back up. And it never seems to be enough. I’ve had a prayer for some time now that goes something like this; “Lord, please help the little moments of joy and beauty overwhelm the overwhelming.” Life clamors for my attention, and it too often feels like a fight I must win with my own sheer will. I find glimpses of the joy when we can get away for the weekend to play. Or I can get outdoors for activity that always refreshes me, stopping to appreciate the kids’ laughter, or I just stop to say thank you to God for the sweet details of creation and life.
Matthew 11:28-29 in the Amplified bible says “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.] Take my yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.
I just returned from such a weekend of refreshment in Palm Springs. I got pool time complete with a tan, solo runs up the mountain, and some really good food. It was wonderful. But even there, the stark reminder of being alone, parenting and nurturing solo slammed into me. As I was scratching Brody’s back one morning, I asked myself that same selfish question, “What about me?” I headed out for a run, and it wasn’t long on the trail that I heard a loving voice on my heart. I had noticed a sweet desert flower blooming and breathed a thank you to the Father for it. His lesson that burned on my heart was beautiful…. it said, “Erika, instead of looking at yourself as a limited, contained vessel that needs refilling after pouring yourself out, think of yourself as a open-ended vessel that allows my love to flow through you. I’m constantly replenishing you, and it’s your choice to see it that way or to think it’s up to you to continually search for ways to refresh your supply.” I was stunned by the simplicity of that, and the reality really lies in my mind and focus. Do I choose to see my lack as something I have to battle to fill or can the ease, relief and refreshment come naturally when I simply turn my face and heart back to God?
So this is where I am today. In the moments I find myself leaning into the awareness of “I’m overwhelmed and must fix it,” I am choosing to remember what I’m calling The Flow. Seeing it as never-ending replenishing that comes in endless, beautiful ways.