We women are givers and nurturers by nature, aren’t we? There is some part of our identity that says we are not allowed to take care of ourselves because there are so many needs out there that require our constant presence.
Add to that the rhetoric we learn at home, church, and family. A stay at home Mom is riduculed when her husband comes home to messy floors and sinks full of dishes, wondering what has she done all day? The working Mom is expected to keep up the house and all the needs of the family as well as work full time, because those are the chores of women. Or maybe you just watched your Mom sacrifice herself for the sake of her husband needing to be the breadwinner so she could serve his needs properly.
Whatever the source of your messages, the reality is we have not been taught to take a break, rest, take care of ourselves. Some of us hoped that when our kids were grown, they would take care of us. Or when the kids were gone, our husbands would. It can be a bit of a shock when they just don’t know how because we never declared we needed anything. How many divorces have you seen occur after the kids left home and the husband and wife looked at each other with dismay – who are you?
I love the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes. I love Evelyn, played by Kathy Bates, as she declares her independence by tearing down walls in the house, her husband oblivious as long as he had his beer and dinner ready. You watch her blossom into a real person who starts doing what pleases her, and, in miraculous Hollywood predictability, her husband finally sees the light. The truth is, she needed to show him the light.
Here is the light I want to shine on you this day. Remember every day the admonition of the flight attendants in the airplane telling you that when the oxygen mask drops down, make sure you inhale first before putting the mask on the child or elderly adult next to you. The message is, you are no good to them dead!
How do you fill up your oxygen? Can you breath hope into someone else if you have none? Can you pour out if you are empty? Where is the other side of the nursery rhyme, “I’m a little teapot, short and stout, just tip me over and pour me out.” How about “I’m a little teapot empty and dry, just fill me up and I will fly.”
Women need women. Men fill only one part of your tank. Women who love and cherish you are out there. Sometimes you just can’t see them, or they are only people who have been receiving from you for so long, they are sure you are strong enough to handle everything! Such a lie! And how hard is it to go to those people with your problems? How many have just shrugged their shoulders and walked away saying, that’s what I have YOU for!
Crocadile Dundee makes a classic statement in the movie of the same name. “Hasn’t she got any mates?” he asks, after Sue explains to him what a psychiatrist is. Mates indeed. America is a culture where it seems we have to pay for a Mate to talk to.
I was given an assignment years ago when I was meeting with my expensive Mate. She said to find 4-5 women in my circle to befriend and spend time with. I was sure there were none. My counselor said that I would be surprised how close they were if I just looked past the needy ones. She was right. I just hadn’t recognized the need, nor considered they too might need a mate as well. My horizons expanded. Of course it meant a time of letting go of those I had called friends who were actually just sucking me dry. Those I kept to a minimum, making sure that first I filled my tank before pouring out.
It is a work in progress. I fall prey to the empty cup syndrome off and on and have to step back to a place of R & R (Rest and Recuperation) for a season to get replenished.
The principle of rest is one found in the Bible. God rested on the seventh day. He offers us a model for rest. We all need a Seventh Day in our lives. For some it may only be an hour or two. Just see what happens when you look at that busy calendar and mark off in bright red, “ME TIME”. It is a gift from God to you if you are willing to receive it.