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There were nights that I sat and sobbed after the kids went to bed because I felt so stretched and tired and insignificant that all I could do to pray was weep. I didn’t even have the energy to form words on those nights.
C’mon, you know what I mean, don’t you?
There were mornings when I woke up feeling that way, too. Entire days where I wondered how I was going to make it between sleep deprivation, financial stress, and daily chaos.
As if talking about dating and contemplating colleges wasn’t enough, we had to do it while I was also attempting to potty train two very (ahem) stubborn little humans and middle of the night nursings.
Sometimes You Just Need to Take a Deep Breath
“Take some time to take care of you,” they said. Sure, as soon as I take care of the other 9 people whose needs are all urgent.
“You need to prioritize self-care,” I was admonished. I need to prioritize peeing in peace. Maybe even showering without someone dying on the other side of the door because we’re out of crackers. That’s what I need.
“Your soul is weary. You need to prioritize soul-care as a mom.” Soul-care? Say what?
I thought that my feelings of overwhelm and inadequacy would miraculously disappear as our circumstances changed, but I’ve continued to battle the weariness of a year where I wasn’t able to be all I wanted for my family. I constantly fell short and I hated myself for it.
I still face myself in the mirror and feel guilty for not being more. I’m just exhausted and ready for renewal. Do you know that feeling?
My soul is exhausted as my body, and it needs some tending. But where to start with that?
The Point Of Desperation
I was so worn out, I couldn’t even make the decision about what shirt to put on. I mean, really, sometimes we moms have to make decisions that are just too much. This was obviously one of those.
And God began to whisper. He began to tell me to feed my soul. To drink deeply. To hide in the secret place. Oh, how I longed to answer His summons. I was so ready to crawl into Daddy’s lap and let Him soothe my weary soul.
But the chaos of my life was like a constant roadblock to finding peace in His presence. Some days my life seemed to shout so loudly that I couldn’t hear His whispers.
It seemed clear to me that I needed to take back my life and reset my priorities. I needed make sure I could hear God and that if anything was drowning out His voice, I needed to silence it.
If things were taking my time away from Him, I obviously needed to clear my plate and start over. It was time to take action.
But then I read Psalm 23 and one little phrase leaped out at me: “He refreshes my soul” (Psalm 23:3a, NIV).
Maybe I didn’t need to take my life back. Maybe it wasn’t up to me to reset my priorities. Maybe I needed to stop striving to do all of these things and let God do His thing.
After all, it didn’t say, “Lisa refreshes her soul.” No, my name was nowhere to be found. My only role in this entire chapter of Scriptural beauty was the recipient of rest, refreshment, provision, and peace.
Perhaps it was time to learn (again) what it meant to live in graceful abandon. It was time to take my hands off the reigns and instead let the King of Glory fulfill His promise to refresh my soul.
Striving Exhausts the Soul; Rest Restores It
I had to realize that my quiet place may not actually be quiet, but that I needed to sit down anyway.
If I was always running in some self-appointed direction, if I was constantly pursuing the next goal I set for myself, then I was not following the Shepherd beside still waters where He could refresh my soul. And I certainly wasn’t lying down in any green pastures.
There is no point in my day that everyone is gone or napping, and there really isn’t anything that remotely resembles quiet at any time of day (yes, I have kids who talk in their sleep!).
So that’s why one day I brought my baby outside and sat at a little cafe table that I had bought at a yard sale. I picked it up for just such an occasion; I wanted to create a space where I would feel peaceful in the midst of my crazy, busy, beautiful, loud, chaotic life.
Sadly, it had become a catch-all for my busy life and I needed to empty its surface and dust it off. Hmm, kind of symbolic, isn’t it? However, it was time for that season to be over.
I would sit at this table in the middle of my kids playing at my feet and sip some tea and read my Bible, and take some time for soul case as a mom. I could pray while watching them ride bikes or build with blocks or collect acorns.
Or, like that day, I could sneak out to it while the big kids were doing school and the little kids were resting and just take a deep breath.
And then my little guy found me and wanted to sit with Mama. Would you believe that I actually started to direct him to play elsewhere?
The tragic irony of sitting at the feet of my Father
while pushing one of my children away almost escaped me.
Thankfully, mercifully, I’ve emptied my life enough that I heard the gentle whisper of God and He redirected my plans. Instead, I told my sweet son that I was reading my Bible and talking to Jesus.
I showed him the book I am reading called The Best Yes (and I totally recommend it!) along with my Bible and shared with him that I was having my quiet time with Jesus and invited him to join me.
He got his own book, his own pencil, and sat next to me. I read out loud to him, we chatted, and then we each did our own “work”. His book quickly ended up on top of mine and he talked through my “quiet” time.
And yet this quiet time refreshed my soul in a way I had been longing for.
Because I had carved out some intentional time and I had heard the whisper and obeyed, I had managed to be refreshed by the Shepherd who led me.
I had stopped striving and let God restore my soul.
This is soul-care as a mom. It’s not another item to check off an already full list at all. It’s setting the list down and following the Shepherd where He leads, instead of constantly crafting your own agenda.
There are green pastures and still waters for you, my friend. And the passionate love of the Beloved is beckoning to you to come and follow the Shepherd to them so that He can care for your soul, even as you are a busy mom.
Soul-care as a mom happens in the midst of chaos. And that’s okay.
We serve the God who quiets the storms and refreshes weary souls. Sometimes we just have to remember to let Him.