Something on Facebook brought some thoughts to my mind. How often do I run into women who are exhausted, worn out, burnt out, overextended, and ready to cry. I would say the majority of women I know fall into this category. It was even said that everyone is overextended as if it is a simple fact of life that must be dealt with but never left behind. I am sure as we go about our daily lives, it may just feel that way. The average woman in our society has problems saying no and trouble maintaining healthy boundaries. It almost seems to be a societal conspiracy to convince her she is responsible for everyone and their emotions. I have seen the extreme in a few troubled Christian women who will not leave their abusive husbands because they are thoroughly convinced their staying and taking punches will ultimately save his soul. That is the extreme but how many women do you know neglect their health and well being in order to live up to some unreachable expectation place upon them by society and sadly, themselves? Maybe everyone, or every women, is just overextended. There is only one problem with that hypothesis.
I am not and I haven't been for quite some time.
More to the point, I know several other women who are not. These women and I refuse to follow that path. For me it leads to sadness, despair, and depression. Now matter how I strived for perfection I would always fail and it ate me up inside. So you know what I did? I quit. I refused to strap myself in to that insane rollercoaster. I have chosen a different path. And I have absolutely no regrets. None.
What I think it really comes down to is priorites. What you value in your life defines you. What you value in your life will shape every facet of your existence. It is who you are. My top three priorities shape me into my being. They are.
1. Peace in my life and in my home.
2. Relational living which means I work to have deep, meaningful relationships with my husband, my children, and the other important people in my life
3. The heath of me and my family. This includes physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual.
How this all works is every step and every choice is deeply and profoundly influenced by these tenets of my life. As I said above, I used to be a terrible perfectionist. I drove myself to exhaustion. I would be cleaning my house at midnight when my body desperately needed sleep and rest. Now to maintain peace and health in my life, I still keep a fairly clean home. However, since perfect cleanliness is no longer the end goal my expectations are far more reasonable. I am much more gentle and graceful with myself.
I love feeding my family healthy whole food. I would love to feed them organic and/or grass fed everything always cooked from scratch. But it would literally drive me to distraction. While trying to hold a standard of excellence for physical health, I would stress and fret alot and ultimately sacrifice emotional and mental health. So there are compromises made to maintain the balance of needs of my entire family.
I take alot more time to myself than most of the women I know. I run, I read, I meditate, and do alot of yoga. I seek inspiration from the bible when I am feeling a bit ragged and know sometimes nothing would do my soul better than meeting a friend for coffee and laughter until I am crying with joy. I guarantee you that all the time I take drastically increases my ability to be a loving wife, mother, and friend. Not running around feeling like I am going to drop and insisting on regularly refreshing my spirit as enabled me to the person I really wanted to be even though it took me a long time to realize it.
I won't lie, there are sacrifices. We live in a much less expensive house than many of our friends. Other than a recent exception, we buy used cars. We don't eat out alot or go out on the town with friends. I have to plan and save for many of our purchases even things some people think are harmless impulse. We miss some holiday gatherings that would be really fun because I keep our committments down to a minimum. We can't do every activity or field trip. We can't run in every race nor travel as much as others.
But I am more than happy with our decisions. We love our life and we would not change it. The peace and joy we are privilege to feel every day makes it all worthwhile.
So if you love your life as it is, that is great. But if you don't, if you are constantly feeling worn and exhausted, there is another way. You can choose a different path.