Happy Wednesday everyone! How is your week going? Is it breezing by? Or is today just. one. of. those. days. Today I have a guest post for you written by community member S.L. Payne, who blogs over at uncommongrace. She’s covering a subject that’s so familiar and yet so daunting to all of us: exhaustion! So pour yourself some tea or some coffee and dive in for a good word and renewal.
By S.L. Payne
I was on the receiving end of some mommy judgment recently. It was beyond stupid since, like most mommy judgment, the subject really didn’t matter. It got under my skin, though, since I’m running tired. And by running tired, I mean feel like I could collapse at any moment kind of exhausted.
I think most of us are running that way. We all have a ton on our plates. Between taking care of my biological sons and my foster daughter, working with social workers and birth parents, writing, cooking, cleaning, bandaging boo-boos (as I said, we have three boys so there are a lot of these!), and trying to be a wife, friend, sister and daughter, I constantly find myself wishing there were more hours in the day. On top of that, I manage my chronic illness. While the things on our plates might be different, I’m sure you can relate. Being a mom is exhausting.
There is only one cure for this hamster-running-on-wheel kind of cycle. It is learning how to be intentional.
I’ve given up a lot of things. Giving up on things doesn’t have to be a loss because living intentionally is consciously making choices about what is important and what is not and prioritizing accordingly. I’ve cut loose the things that aren’t important. I don’t need to have everyone looking picture perfect all the time. I have older things. We don’t eat out at nice restaurants. My kids aren’t involved in a bunch of activities. I say no.
I’ve gained so much: my family and I are making a huge difference in people’s lives with foster care. I get to write. My kids have the unstructured time they need so they can run around playing outside with their friends. So what if they come in sweaty, stained, and sticky from popsicles and nerf gun battles. They are learning to follow God watching my husband and I serve in our community. They are learning what is important.
That is worth being exhausted for.
I’m exhausted not because I’ve given into the tyranny of the urgent, but because we’ve made a choice to live for something other than ourselves: God. And I’ve never been happier or more content.
I think there are two kinds of exhaustion. The first one is the miserable, “how am I going to get through this” kind. The second is the productive, contented kind that comes after hard work. Before I decided to be intentional with my life and my family’s, I struggled with the first one. Now most days, although not all, it is the second kind. There will always be some of the first kind since I’m human. Kids get sick. There are deadlines. Things unexpectedly happen.
It can be really hard living this way though. People don’t always understand, hence the mommy judgment. My priorities don’t line up to our culture’s priorities. Culture says that I should be trying to work for comfort, for stuff, and I need to keep up appearances. Jesus said differently.
Maybe some of it is that we are so insecure in our own choices that we judge others. Maybe we let ourselves be far too influenced by culture. Maybe we are speaking from a place of ignorance about the other person’s situation. Maybe we think too highly of ourselves. We all do at times. So we judge. The dangerous part of this is that it takes our focus off our own intentionality and we try to project it onto another. And we end up exhausted and discontent.
Seriously, if I’m going to run exhausted, I want to do it because I think what I am doing is worth it and not because I’m trying to keep up with the Jones. If I get caught up in the little stuff, I’ve already lost my way. I can’t focus on helping build my kids’ characters or being authentic in my relationships. Basically, I can’t live in grace.
Jesus gave His life willingly for us to be restored to a relationship with Him. What crazy, unimaginable, uncommon grace! Most people now won’t give if it costs them anything. Jesus gave when it hurt to do so. We can’t run away from pain and truth in search of looking good and being comfortable.
If I’m going to bet on one side, I’m going with Jesus over the world’s opinions of what I should do. It won’t make sense to most people, but living intentionally for Him is worth being exhausted over.
Images courtesy of S.L. Payne
About S.L. Payne
S.L. Payne, a Southern Californian transplanted to the South, lives with her husband, three biological sons and foster daughter. She has had fibromyalgia since she was a little girl, but is thankful for God’s faithfulness. God has used to it help her see Him in everything; the three boys have supplied the humor! She loves writing, photography and laughing with her family. She writes at Rest Ministries and her website uncommongrace.net where she hopes she can encourage others to live in grace. You can follow her on Twitter @saralynnpayne.