I stumbled down the stairs in my early Monday morning stupor. Mornings aren’t my strong suit and it takes quite a bit of time for me to feel lucid. I closed the bathroom door for my first trip of the morning only to hear my teenage daughter yell up the stairs, “Mom, did you wash my gym clothes?” Within seconds, I heard her slightly younger brother bellow, “Mom, if you are picking me up early today, I need a note.” I’d barely been in the bathroom for a full minute before 8-year-old Erica was knocking on the door announcing that her two-year-old brother was awake and had produced a very dirty diaper sometime during the night.
I closed my eyes and thought, “Can’t I just have two minutes alone in the bathroom?
When Jesus walked on this earth, the Bible tells us “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.” People wanted what Jesus had. They were intrigued by his message of a personal relationship with a loving God, which was starkly different from what the Pharisees taught about religion based upon works. The message of the Pharisee’s came down to one word—“do.” “Do this, do that, and be more like us!” they exclaimed in word and action. The message Jesus proclaimed also came down to one similar, yet vastly different, word—“done.” Jesus’ message was one of grace, given through his sacrifice on the cross. You don’t have to “earn” salvation. You just have to accept the free gift.
This was a new message that people longed for and thousands flocked to hear him speak when he was in town. People wanted to be near him. They had questions for him. They wanted to know more about this unique message of hope. Jesus’ message represented an anchor during the storms of life.
For our children, we too are an anchor. Our presence represents security in their budding lives. They want to know where we are and be assured that we will be there when they need us.
Whether you have one child or a whole houseful, the concept of being followed everywhere you go is one you have to get adjusted to when you become a mother. It begins right after birth or adoption. Suddenly you can no longer walk out the door without considering the needs of this new little one. A simple trip to the store requires a diaper bag full of baby supplies and a vast array of baby paraphernalia.
If you add more children to the family, the crowd becomes larger with time. And as children grow older, it’s rare that they want to embark on any endeavor without a friend in tow. Let’s face it, large crowds follow us everywhere we go!
Some moms relish in this constant activity of kids and their friends and some moms find themselves overwhelmed and stifled by it. I enjoy the constant activity but can only handle it for a limited time. Because of my people skills and ability to handle most social settings with ease, I’ve assumed that I was an extrovert. However, as I’ve become more in tune with myself, I’ve actually discovered I’m an introvert. I’ve also discovered that the terms “introvert” and “extrovert” don’t really have much to do with your people skills. Instead they are really more about how you are emotionally drained and refueled. Simply put, being with people refuels an extrovert and being alone refuels an introvert.
So what does an introvert mother of five children do? She learns to take care of herself and get the alone time she desperately wants to find emotional refueling she desperately needs. I’ve learned to find a bathroom in the middle of the day, or to seek the refuge of my front porch during the kids’ nap or rest time. I’ve asked my husband to take the kids to the park occasionally so I can have time alone at home. I’ve learned to take an evening out once a week to go for a walk alone, or meet a friend for pie and coffee. This is not only beneficial for me, but for my family as well. When I’m running on a full emotional fuel tank, I’m more patient, more effective, and far more enjoyable to be around.
Conversely, what does an extrovert mother of one do? She learns to take care of herself by seeking out a moms group she can become a part of. She invites another mother and her children over for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. She organizes a ladies night out for the moms in the neighborhood. And even though being with people refuels her, an extrovert mom still needs to find quiet moments to nourish her soul.
Jesus was intentional about finding time to refuel. He knew there were many demands upon his time and energy and he had to be a good steward of his body, soul, and mind. Nobody had to tell him, “Jesus, go rest.” Instead he recognized his need to pull away from the crowds and find the refreshment he needed.
As moms, we need to do the same. People and responsibilities demand much from us and we have to be good stewards of our body, soul, and mind. We can’t wait until we’re drained dry or until someone comes along and offers to watch our kids (like that happens very often!). Instead we have to learn to be proactive about our self-care so that we can be ready to meet the needs of our family.
Talk to God about the demands you feel upon you. Where do you feel smothered by them? What wears you down? Pour your heart out to Him about how you feel and where you feel pulled in a dozen different directions. After all, “large crowds followed him everywhere he went.”
He really understands.
Thank you, God, for having an understanding heart. You didn’t have much personal space in your life and I often feel I don’t have much personal space in mine. Thank you for your example of intentionally refueling with rest, prayer, and intentionally pulling away from the crowds. Help me to learn to do the same and to recognize the benefit for my family and myself when I do so. In Jesus name…Amen.
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