If I were to ask you who YOU are, what would you say? Sure you might rattle off the obvious descriptors: daughter, wife, sister, mother, friend, employee… But what about the you that is only you. The you that exists in the dark, when you’re alone, when it’s just your thoughts, your desires, your needs filling the space. What then?
Might you find you’re lonely and craving connection? Or maybe you’re desperately over-touched and need space – lots of space? Do you know your worth and what your soul craves? Or do you wonder if anyone even registers your presences? Who are you in your core? Or more to the point, what do you need in your life to be YOU.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot. Who am I? Possibly even more importantly, who do I want to be? My world looks very different than it did several years ago. I’ve never been one who dreamed of being a stay at home mom to a house full of kids. And yet, leaving full-time employment to take on full-time homemaking has given me the most unlikely gift.
Time. Time to process. Time to share. Time to reflect. Time to pray. What I’ve discovered about myself is a woman who isn’t 100% fulfilled by being at home. That’s a hard truth to swallow. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I have many dear friends who completely love their time at home. They are amazing women, and God created them to love their lives at home in the most beautiful way. Me – not so much. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to not be employed full-time and to be able to be flexible to handle the needs of our family, but something stirs within me that craves more. More what? I’m still trying to figure that out.
So when Lisa Leonard posted about her new book Brave Love: Making Space for You to be You, it was as if God was pointing giant neon arrows at me. I knew I had to read it. As part of her launch team, I was sent an advance copy, and to say I blew through it would be an understatement. I soaked up every beautiful, and hard word Lisa poured out. In Brave Love Lisa sublimely walks you through some of her most challenging moments in life – from learning to settle for less at a young age, to the birth of a special needs child, to building a successful business, and the breakdown of her marriage – with such rawness and transparency it was hard to stop reading. Her journey to becoming the woman she needed to be is powerful, relatable, heartbreaking, and inspiring, all in one stunningly brave package.
I could go on and on about the unbelievable gift this book is – I won’t but I could. And as I thought about what I wanted to share with you, my friends, I came back to a simple but bold step Lisa took when her world was crumbling – a list. Not a list of to-dos, rather a list as she puts it
“of things I needed to changed…what I really wanted and needed, not just what I thought I was allowed to ask for.”
When I read those words, they stopped me in my tracks. How often do we think in terms of what we “should” want and need, instead of what we actually need for fear we might be judged or shamed? Too often would be my guess.
So I started making my list – what are things I REALLY need, things that maybe I even question if I deserve but long for. Here’s where I ended up:
- Consistent Quiet Time – I need to make it a priority, even if it means getting up a little earlier [yeah right] or staying up a bit later.
- Morning Coffee – I’m giving myself permission to spend 10 minutes just enjoying a cup of coffee. No phone, no TV, just me and my thoughts. Everyone will be fine for those 10 minutes.
- Naps – I’ve always taken naps, but I will no longer wake up shaming myself for all the things I didn’t accomplish. No more. I will give myself the gift of rest without shame and guilt when I need it.
- Help with homework/dinner – I can not continue to manage homework time and preparing dinner at the same time. I need help if both need to be done at the same time. Otherwise, I will focus on only one task and on days when extra help isn’t available, dinner will be late and something simple.
- Quality Time with my husband – Not working has put our budget to the test. I often feel guilty about the money we spend on date nights [hello! babysitters are expensive these days!] because we’re already stretched thin. It’s important for us to spend quality time together – whether that’s at home when the kids are in bed, or an evening out.
- Regular alone time – The hardest and biggest need. Staying at home means most of my days are filled with chasing a toddler or meeting the needs of my older boys. I need alone time where I only have myself to worry about. I need those blocks of time more regularly.
I’m sure there’s more that should be on my list. The beauty of it is that as I find myself, my true ME, my list can, and will, change.
So I pose that question to you – what on your list? What are things you need to add so that you can better embrace YOU – the beautiful, unique, amazing YOU that God created you to be?
Don’t believe me? Check out just a couple of the amazing reviews Lisa’s book is already getting.
To learn more about Lisa, her family, and her jewelry, check out www.lisaleonard.com.