A couple of weekends ago, I had 3 full days to myself in my own home. I can’t remember ever having that much time to myself. It’s a real gift to the introvert. The days approaching I dared not allow myself to get excited for fear plans would fall through.
The moment my family drove away, I pulled out my spray bottles of vinegar and peroxide, my dusting cloths, brooms, and mops. And I got to work. I cleaned the house from top to bottom with no distraction knowing it would stay spotless for days. All my household duties were complete by lunch and I now had the gift of time ahead of me.
I’m a productivity lover. I fill every pocket of time with a task. Sometimes I hate that about me. I resist rest because there is always work to be done. I never sit in the evenings. After the kids go to bed, there is always work to be done. I tell myself I will sit down and rest when everything is done. The problem is that it’s never all done. So I fall into bed exhausted every night.
I had a choice to make with my free weekend. I could do what I always do. Get stuff down. Work through my long list of never ending tasks. Or I could be wild and crazy with my time. I could do nothing but rest.
I battled only briefly when I decided that God was giving me a gift and I wanted to receive the gift in full. No one likes to give a gift and feel the person they gave it to didn’t really appreciate the gift fully. They half used it because they didn’t see the real value it held.
My soul was in desperate need of a gift. The gift had been given to me. I had a choice. Resist the gift or receive it in full. Sometimes the kindest thing we can do for our own soul is to receive fully the gift of rest when it’s offered to us.
For me to accept a gift of rest isn’t easy. To rest, I had to battle guilt. Guilt over not working through the tasks. Guilt over sleeping later than normal. Guilt over reading a book for hours when that simply felt too luxurious.
It’s not just my task list that taunts me. It’s the good things even. I could use that time to write, to work on women’s ministry. The list of ways I could serve grew long. And the guilt clung tightly.
I am well familiar with the person I become when I’m serving or working on empty. When I don’t pause for a soul refill, I become a person I don’t want to be around. Bitterness creeps in. I’m quick to judge others who aren’t serving to the same capacity I am. I become a flaw pointer, noticing everything that’s not right in the people around me. It’s ugly. And it loves to rear its head when I’m in desperate need of rest and soul filling.
I’m an all or nothing kind of person. So when I made the decision to fully accept the gift of rest, free of guilt, I went all in. God did the rest. I didn’t plan one second of that weekend and I couldn’t have had a more beautiful weekend.
The first evening I spent with my dear friend, mentor, and prayer warrior. She was steps inside the door and I was captivated by her stories. I could sit and listen for hours. In fact, that is just what I did. When I finally stood up from listening, I felt lightheaded and dizzy. How long had I been engrossed in her life’s story? When I looked at the clock, it was hours past my normal dinner. A gift. How often does food in my home revolve around clocks and hungry boys? How delightful to find myself lost in her stories, losing sense of time completely. We continued sharing stories for hours over shared salads, chocolate cake, and hot tea. Bedtime was not dictated by a menacing schedule waiting for me.
The following morning I woke leisurely, which never happens. I ordered the guilty thoughts to go back to where they came from so I could wrap my arms around the gift of this very moment. Enjoying the quiet morning watching the dawning day break through the curtains.
The rest of the day I spent on my screen porch reading. Hours upon hours of reading. Finishing one book, moving on to another. A gift I had never received before. Dinner out with a friend, back home to curl up and read for another round of hours.
By the time my family arrived back home, I felt like a new person. I had nothing to show for my weekend except a smile and a settled heart. My soul felt full again, ready to serve and give and love. I was ready to be all in again.
In 13 years, I’ve never had a break quite like that. I didn’t post on social media how much I was relishing in my rest. There were several moments I found myself so grateful for the rest and felt that urge to shout it from the rooftops, which typically equates to posting on Instagram or Facebook.
I refrained. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe it was that I wanted to keep my gift a secret for a time. I wasn’t ready to give up the intimacy of the moment or to invite others into the privacy of that time. Maybe if the world came in, the rest would escape.
Maybe it was that I realized that in 13 years I’d never had a moment like that, and to share those moments would only breed discontentment and jealousy to a mom who is hanging by a thread. How often have I been hanging by that very thread only to scroll through social media and see pictures that made me want to question my own life?
Maybe a part of me thought posting those moments was such a far stretch from my real life that I couldn’t bring myself to put them out there.
I’m not exactly sure. But there is something that felt so right about holding those moments close to my heart that weekend. Sharing them with only the real live people I interacted with. Cherishing the full gift for those brief moments, afraid if I shared them, they’d slip away. They wouldn’t be a sweet gift just for me anymore.
As we head into Mother’s Day weekend, may we hold our moments close to our hearts. May we cherish the intimacy of the gifts we receive rather than share them with the world. May we remember that in our excitement over our moments, sometimes we create deep pain and discontentment in another women who isn’t currently showered with love. Or a woman who has never had an opened womb or a completed adoption. Or a mother who is working through healing relationships with her children.
Maybe the kindest gift to our soul this Mother’s Day is to fully receive the gifts we receive….and to keep it a little secret. Not inviting the world into those secret places. There’s something to treasure about the little sacred moments and gifts in a see-all, share-all world. And there is something to behold knowing that we didn’t unintentionally hurt a women who is in need of a gift but didn’t receive one.