Just when I’m doing great and think I have it all together, the ground beneath me shifts sending me tumbling down to land flat on my face. *ouch*
I’m surprised how quickly my level of love can go from “Won’t take my eyes off you / Be still my heart / Want to squeeze your cheeks forever” to “Dear Lord, I can’t stand another 5 minutes!” Superficial! That is my love in a nutshell. It doesn’t always run so deep. My love alone is often based on feelings. How am I doing today? Am I being productive and checking off the bullet points on my list? Have I been a patient and loving mother to my children? Have I provided nutritious meals for my family (insert day-dream about blueberry muffins that I’ve been craving. Yum!) Is my house sparkling clean? Was I able to squeeze into those pre-baby jeans? Do I look like a hot momma for my hubster? Did I create that gourmet meal I pinned earlier in the week? On the days that I can confidently answer “yes” to all of those questions, I find that I have an abundance of love to share! I’m on top of the world and can do anything! It’s easy to love when things are going well and self-esteem is at an all time high. But what about the times I’m not doing so well?
Sadly, it is quite rare that I can answer all those questions affirmatively. Some mornings, it’s a real struggle to roll out of bed. And let me tell ya, my loving-kindness is in direct correlation to the number of hours I get to snooze. Being mom to a toddler and an 8 week old, I often wake up feeling like someone hit me with the grouchy stick. On those mornings, I start the day playing catch-up. By the time the hubby gets home, not only am I NOT looking like a hot momma, I’m cranky! My list went un-checked! There is crayon on the wall and an ocean of toys on the floor! Dinner is a pintrest post gone wrong! And the only muffins in the house are the muffin tops created by pre-baby jeans and a post baby momma! *Ugh*
We’ve all had those days where brushing our teeth before noon feels like a monumental accomplishment. And on those days, giving seems impossible.
Giving a listening ear.
How do I love my husband when I am spent and have nothing in me to give? How do I love my children when I am tired and grouchy and just want to run and hide behind a lonely bubble bath? How do I love others when I just don’t “feel” like it?
Thankfully real love is not just a feeling. Oh yes, love carries some pretty strong emotions, but any relationship based on butterflies tickling the tummy is doomed to fail. Real love runs so much deeper than a heart of emotion that changes with the wind.
So, if you are anything like me, you have days when you lift your sleepy head up off the pillow and wonder how you can give any love to your mate or fulfill your role as a loving parent when you feel so empty and incapable. Well, love, you can’t give away something you do not possess. When there is no love left and your tank is on E, you must be filled before you will be capable of giving. Learning to love is a life-long process in which we should always be moving forward. There is always room to grow. So far on my journey, I have learned a few things that fill my love tank and help me pass that love along even when I don’t feel like it.
- Have breakfast with God. First, I have learned that love ultimately comes from God. I cannot work it up on my own. I am able to love because He loved me first. My Bible reading plan landed me in I John this past week. If you have never read I John, you may want to take a peek at it! It’s 5 short chapters full of talk on love. I am very encouraged by it! I John 4:19 says “We love, because He first loved us.” So I try to make it a priority to get up a bit before the kiddos so I have a few minutes to sip some pumpkin spice hot tea and spend some time with God. Regular prayer and Bible reading really helps me to keep my head on straight and my priorities in line. Remember, God made you. God knows you better than anyone else. He alone is capable of meeting every need and filling your love tank. Your husband. Your bestie. Well-meaning as they are, they cannot meet your every need. Take time for God.
- Care for you. I’m also learning that it really is okay for moms to take some time for themselves. We often feel selfish for wanting that time, but the truth is we are much better mothers when we when take the time to care for ourselves. So call up grandma. Tell her you have graciously decided to offer her some quality time with those sweet babies. And then go. Go somewhere. Go anywhere. Do something nice for yourself! And do NOT feel guilty!
- Don’t be so hard on yourself. The days I have a hard time loving, are the days that I feel terrible about myself. I set the bar so impossibly high that I will never reach it. Then I smack myself around for being a failure. I get so focused on myself and my shortcomings that I cease to love those around me. I’m learning to let the little things go and not expect perfection from myself. Giving myself permission to be flawed does my heart good.
- Be loved! Don’t live your life in isolation. Life gets busy. Fast. Plan time to see friends. Take a date night with your spouse. Go visit your mom. See people. We need companionship. Encourage and be encouraged. No one person can complete you. Remember, that is God-thing. But He gives us people to love and be loved!
- Stop and Notice. Some days I become so engrossed in completing my own little to-do list, that my task becomes my priority. But are those cobwebs in the corner really more important than the tiny, smiling voice saying “Sit down, Mama”? When I take the time to see the things I love about the people around me, loving them becomes much easier. On the other hand, when I choose to only see the mess my kids are making or the muddy trail from my husbands boots, I sigh and feel a twinge of anger rise up in me. It’s in those moments that I must choose to see what I love. I love that my toddler is active and curious enough to be into everything! I love that my husband is motivated to get up hours before the sun to go to work so I can stay at home and be a wife and mommy. The list goes on forever! I must be sure to read from that list every day.
Don’t you sometimes wish there was an easy 5-step process for the hard things in life…like loving when you just don’t feel like it? Just remember, we will never love perfectly because we are imperfect people. Keep moving forward and keep growing! And if you have some suggestions of what helps you, I’d love to hear them!!!