When my firstborn was a toddler, a friend who had 2 little ones at the time commented that now, with kids, her interests had essentially been replaced by theirs. Those things that had once been her dreams she was giving up — at least for a time — in order to help her children pursue theirs.
At the time I was appalled by her statement and, in my arrogance, challenged her on it. Despite the fact that she had not asked for my opinion, I shared my “wisdom” with her, and as you can imagine, did so in a haughty, not so nice way.
Looking back I’m embarrassed and ashamed by what I said and how I’d said it, especially because of my arrogance and insensitivity to her. (God continues to humble me through motherhood, but I’m learning to keep my mouth shut.) However, I still firmly believe that God gives us gifts to use for His glory and for our pleasure and that He wants us to continue growing regardless the season we’re in.
In reading this book, I am encouraged by Sally Clarkson’s advice:
Whatever your personality, be sure to allow yourself the time to be refreshed in a way that is right for you. There is no single, one-size-fits-all formula to how and where that happens, but you need enough time with yourself to determine how and where it will happen for you (62).
Unless I regularly allow myself the time and space to pursue my interests, I will become stagnant. I will not grow. I will not increase in wisdom. I will not find rest and relaxation. I will not be refreshed. I will not feel inspired.
And without those things, how can I inspire my children? How can I nurture and love on them when my own cup is empty?
Here are 4 ways in which making time for ourselves actually benefits our families.
1. Creates Peace & Harmony
When I take time to enjoy myself, I feel refreshed and rejuvenated. I am once again able to give back to my family because I have taken the time to refill my own tank. I can’t give out to others what isn’t there to give. As moms we are always running ourselves ragged. At some point we will run out of steam, lose our tempers, and cry out for help. Taking just a few minutes for ourselves can mean the difference between an adult pity party and maintaining harmony in the home.
2. Gives Glory to God, Not My Children
My children need to see what I am passionate about. They need to see my gifts, talents and abilities at work, and they need me to tell them those gifts come from God. If I am not being a good steward of the talents my Father has given me, then He will not be glorified. Likewise, if I am always putting my children first, then they will always think they are the center of the universe. That is not giving God the glory.
3. Nourishes My Life
Learning and growing nourishes my mind, body, and soul. I can smile and feel good about myself when I learn a new stitch or paint a masterpiece. I can rest and recharge as I read a new book, learn a new hobby, or take a long walk in the woods. My family needs to see its Mama continuing to learn and grow in new ways, and I need to stretch my mind, body, and soul to their limit. How can I be a productive teacher to my children if I am not willing to take the time to grow myself?
4. Helps My Children Discern & Appreciate Their Own Gifts
If I am pursuing a talent, then my children also benefit in that they see the value of finding their own God-given gifts and abilities. They may not know what those are yet, but in time, they will. Then, as they watch their Mama pursue her gifts, they will see that making time for them is important, and they will, hopefully, use their gifts to God’s glory.
Let me be clear. I do not mean neglecting your family in order to fulfill your dreams. God gave you this family to serve, and they should be your first priority after your relationship with Him.
I encourage you to prayerfully consider how you can make time for yourself this week to learn and grow. Seek God first. Ask your husband for his advice. Start small. See how committed you are before sinking lots of money in. Make sure whatever interest, habit, or hobby you choose fits in with your family’s goals or mission. For me I try to hold everything up to Philippians 4:8. If it doesn’t pass the “true, noble, right, and pure test,” then I don’t pursue it.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
What about you? Do you have an area in which you’d like to learn and grow?
Is it something you might be able to start over the summer?
What other benefits do you see to making time for yourself?