Well, there went January. Poof! And it's gone.
My January wasn't what I planned. Was yours? Are you working your Plan for 2016 or are you feeling a bit snowed under by the reality that is Life?
Here's The Next Thing: Lent starts in ten days. What will you sacrifice this year? You, who was up three times last night? What's the "something extra" you're going to do? You, who will drive hours and hours this week with a cargo of small athletes--will you give up afternoon coffee or the wine with dinner? How can you push yourself further, work yourself harder this Lent? Can you circle back to a New Year's Resolution already abandoned and make good on that?
I've got a different idea.
This year, for Lent, live Mercy. And start with yourself. This year, take your disillusioned and discouraged self and instead of flogging it, nurture it.
Somehow, women have learned that nurturing ourselves must come last. We equate holiness with sucking the life out of ourselves to give it to someone else. Newsflash: it doesn't work that way. When we deplete ourselves--which happens over time if we aren't careful--there is no cycle of giving and receiving. A depleted woman cannot give. She has nothing left. She hits rock bottom, exhausted and disappointed.
Let Lent be a time of transformation. Self-care isn't selfish. It's vital. It's life-giving. Can you commit to spending Lent taking care of yourself, changing some habits and learning some new ones, in order to fill your own cup? Could you do that if I promise you that once your cup is full you'll be a much better wife, mother, friend, and neighbor?
I'm not talking about giving up chocolate. I'm talking about giving up. Give up the extra weight you carry that isn't the cross He chose for you. Give up the uneasy yoke and trade it for the one that embraces the Lord in His mercy and then extends it to your circle of influence.
You can do this. You can commit to spending Lent taking care of yourself and establishing lifestyle practices that will bring you close to our Lord and to your family, while inviting peace and order into your home. You will fill your own cup and give generously to others.
Giving up and giving to ourselves isn't about a spa weekend or even a spiritual retreat away from the crowds (though there is likely a time and place for both those things). Giving up can mean setting aside a few minutes a day to read with purpose and understand the principles of self-care, from sleep and nutrition to friendship and creativity, and then to implement them over time in your own life. It's not elaborate or expensive. It is a sacrifice. You will have to lay down your roughhewn cross of busy productivity and perfection. The one you will shoulder is marked "Mercy"-- First for yourself, then for your world.