I am 46 years old.
I have had 46 years of life.
Cooking/eating meals, dressing myself, driving to and fro, getting educated, relationships, friendships, marriage, having babies, and parenting.
But it’s only recently that I felt comfortable with myself.
I became a Christian at 22 but I never felt comfortable in my skin. Settled with who I am. Happy with the person I am inside as well as with the person I portray out to the world. Okay with presenting myself “Just as I am” (as the old song goes).
I really struggled with the concept of self-care. I honestly didn’t know for sure whether self-care was biblical, whether it was pleasing to God, or it was just another humanistic concept designed by self-focused humans. I also didn’t even really know what I truly needed.
I think it got worse after raising three babies. I had really lost myself along the way. I think it actually happens to a lot of moms.
My last baby was born five years ago (when I was 41, oh yeah!). As he has grown, and I have accepted that he is indeed my last, I quietly decided to reclaim myself. Being that he was my last, I knew I had to be content with myself from here on out, as baby-snuggling, toddler-training was now a thing of the past (although, admittedly parenting is not over).
So…it was time to decide. Who was I exactly?
And, while we are talking about this, why didn’t I fit into ONE clean and neat category? (annoying!)
At one time or another, and maybe your specific timing was different, did you ask yourself that same question? Who ARE you? Where do YOU fit in? What do you value and even like?
As mamas, this is bound to come up. Mothering can be somewhat lonely and our efforts to reach out and make friends along the way do not always go well for a variety of reasons.
Mothering in and of itself is can be a very outward facing act with not too many tangible rewards. Do you get a pat on the back for staying up all night with your sick kiddo? All those tears shed during Algebra II…does your teen come back and say “Thank you mom so much!” All the laundry and dishes…it gets really wearying!
One of the most distracting things that prevents us from doing this sort of self-work is the temptation to look at other moms and compare ourselves. Sometimes it’s hard for me to even admit I do this…but I do.
Was I the tough, outdoorsy lady? The feminine wife? The modest-Christian mother? Stay-at-home-mom? Working mom? The long-haired, long-skirted homeschooling mama? I looked around me and saw all of these women, and thought “They look happy and content with themselves,” or “She seems pleased enough with who she is. She probably doesn’t even think about this.”
From talking with other moms, we also are not so great at taking care of ourselves. Can I get an “amen”? How many times have you seen yours kids sick, driven them to the doctor, gotten the diagnosis, ordered the medicine…all while being sick yourself? We put ourselves last. Which is okay for a time…but only for a time. It will catch up with you.
Thankfully the Bible is replete with scriptures that give me confidence and clarity to go forward in this process of deciding who I am truly.
2 Corinthians 5:17
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, the new has come.
1 Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.
New creation. Chosen. Daughter of God.
These scriptures and many like them remind us that, in fact, our person-hood is not tied up in all the things that we look at with our physical eyes, but rather in the spiritual renewal of being a Jesus-follower.
That levels the playing field immediately, casting open wide the door to be whoever God chose you to be.
You don’t have to be one type of category of person, neatly packaged and tied with a bow. You can allow yourself the space to wear the hiking boots one day and the high heels the next! As long as you are Christ-centered, it doesn’t matter!
Next, even Jesus took some time to get centered (if we can call it that). Luke 5:16 says that Jesus “went away to solitary places and prayed.” In another translation, the Bible says he, “frequently withdrew to the wilderness to pray.”
Maybe you need to withdraw a little bit every week to pray, to jot down thoughts, to plan your week, or to think through the things that make you happy.
At 46, my own personal realization is that I love myself and the way God made me, and that I wasn’t happy when I judged myself harshly, comparing myself to others.
And I do (literally) wear hiking boots one day and heels the next. 😉