I’m sort of in the process of “filling up.” You can’t pour out, without pouring into yourself first. Because when the cup is empty, there’s nothing left to pour. I’m in the process of figuring all this out.
For the past few years, I’ve felt like I have been simply surviving. You know: going to work, caring for the family, leading in my areas of ministry – all while neglecting myself. Now don’t get me wrong. All of the things I’ve been doing are GOOD things. Teaching allows me to see my students grow. Nurturing my family is my season of life and I’m grateful for it. Ministering within our community brings joy to others and makes me feel good too. But I’ve been feeling exhausted and overwhelmed for some time and I’ve realized that something has to change. I have to start practicing radical self-care. What does that even look like? Have I ever practiced self-care? Whatever it means, I’m realizing it’s crucial for me right now.
Now don’t get too excited about my use of the words “radical self-care.” Radical sounds so complete and thorough. But let me remind you, I have been practicing zero self-care, so if I wake up and take a walk, then that’s pretty radical for me.
When I was in high school, someone handed me the book “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau. He built a tiny house on Walden Pond in Concord, MA, using land that belonged to his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson. He lived there in the woods for over 2 years – it was part social experiment and part spiritual discovery. Given my current state, where life just feels “cluttered” and “unorganized”, I thought that a visit to Walden Pond would bring me peace. On a recent day alone, I made the trip to Concord, MA.
The Walden Pond State Reservation has a new visitor’s center, where they show a 4 minute video clip of Walden Pond. And they have a few little displays that tell of Thoreau’s life. There is a re-creation of his cabin – perhaps the very first tiny house.
In my true fashion, I set out on the trail with gusto to find Thoreau’s original tiny house site.
Here’s a little-known fact about me: I have a horrible sense of direction. When I think I should go right, I should really go left. Even with a map in hand, I got a bit lost. I intended to travel the “pond trail” which one would think should run the perimeter of the pond (it does.) But I ended up on the “ridge trail.” No worries. I heard 2 woodpeckers tap, tap, tapping. And I watched 2 blue jay dance through the trees. It was a Godly detour. My cup is filling.
I headed down another trail that didn’t seem right. But then I remembered my sense of direction. I rerouted and found my way to the pond trail. It was a sandy beach-like path all around the pond, about 1.7 miles. From there, I was able to find Thoreau’s original cabin spot. “I could live here,” I thought. A cabin in the woods, over-looking pristine, clear, blue water. My cup is filling.
I continued along the pond trail (couldn’t get lost now!). I stopped to admire the water. The air was crisp and the sky was a stunning shade of blue. I thanked God for the peace; for this time to be still. My cup is filling.
Why do we feel like we have to keep running around frantically? Why do we need permission to embrace the quiet and reconnect with ourselves?
I continued on the path still. And when you see a stone chair overlooking the water, you just have to sit in it. Surprisingly comfortable, actually. More peace. Breathe in, breathe out. My cup is filling.
And obviously, a date with oneself is not complete unless you treat yourself to lunch. In a cute little New England downtown cafe, where I wrote the majority of this post.
I re-read some of my old blog posts and sometimes I think, “I was on the right path.” At least the right path for me. Somehow I got lost. Somehow I let the world’s noise filter in. Somehow I lost the balance, whatever that is.
I really do love to pour out. It really does bring me joy. I’m just realizing that in order to pour out, we have to pour in.