I have learned a few things about myself over these past couple years. As I have slowed down enough to reflect, ask, ponder, read and listen, I have learned to care for myself in ways I never would have before. I am still learning so much, but may I share with you a few components of my healing? These steps have allowed me to continue moving forward despite my chronic heartache.
1. No should-ing. If the thought in my head is "I should . . ." I generally let go of that thought without action. I don't should. I do lots of things for others out of love and care, but I try very hard not to do things because of an unnecessary obligation placed on me by myself or by someone else. I am responsible for my decisions and actions, but I am not responsible for others' interpretation of them. No should's.
2. I give out of my capacity and not my deficit. This goes hand-in-hand with #1. I love to call, encourage, text, invite, bake, visit and whatever else, but only when I have cared for myself enough to have the capacity to care for others. When I am empty (be it physically, emotionally, mentally or spiritually), it is not wise for me to continue to give to others. Love your neighbor as you love yourself (Matthew 22:39) means I have to love and care for myself so that I can love and care for others. Good stewardship says I give what I have - not what I don't.
3. My soul craves time with God. When I started really giving my soul what it needed, it flourished. This time of quiet sitting, listening and just being with God has propelled the intimacy of our relationship in ways I never previously experienced despite years of church attending and Bible study. I have found it to be so invaluable that I will get up at whatever time it takes in order to give my soul the time with God that it craves.
4. I do it for the endorphins. That's what my favorite workout shirt says and it is TRUTH. Endorphins are powerful mood boosters and feel-better hormones that our body naturally produces through various activities. For me, those endorphins flow freely with strenuous exercise. So I run, box, jump rope, lift weights, hit things, push, pull, squat, burpee or whatever I have to do to get the endorphins I need. I know exactly how long my body can go without them before the anxious feelings and depressed mood begin to build and I begin to deteriorate. So, yep, I do it for the endorphins.
5. I can do hard things. This has become somewhat a mantra of mine. My kids hear it all the time. When we are faced with situations that are hard, our first instinct is to quit. I can't do it. I'm tired. I just can't go anymore. It's too hard. These are the things I used to say. But I have learned that I can. I can give just a little more. I can do one more push up. I can go one more mile. I can learn it. I can finish it. I can get out of bed. Whatever it is, I can do it. Because I know that I can do hard things.
6. I choose to live. All the days ordained for me were determined before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:16). I do not choose the number of my days on this earth, but I choose how to live them. Some days . . . some moments . . . life on this earth is not my favorite. Sometimes the pleasure becomes obstructed by the work . . . the sadness . . . the ugliness . . . the injustice . . . the brokenness . . . the ongoing and after-effects of grief. Yet I have a choice to make in that. I can choose to simply exist in this world for the days ordained for me. Or I can choose to live - with purpose, with love, with ambition, with excitement, with hope and with joy. And I choose to live.