Friday, January 9, 2015

An emotionally healthier 2015

Well here it is. Welcome to our lives 2015. We've been waiting for you!

Another year, another season, another chance to evaluate life and love and everything in between.

Have you made New Year's resolutions or goals? Did you clink your glasses at the stroke of midnight and proclaim your newfound focus for this new year? Did you kiss your love and stand in a warm embrace thinking about 2015 while the music played and confetti circled all around? Did you snuggle on the couch with a warm blanket and watch the ball drop in the Big Apple as you considered the next year? Did you fall asleep early and contemplate all the new year had to offer when you awoke bright and early on January 1st?

I've been thinking of my goals for 2015 ever since 2014 was only half over. I started pondering my future goals last summer while training for my half marathon. I've written about it a few times here and there in the past few months, but my determination has only grown stronger as time passes.

I don't have a verse or phrase or specific goal for 2015. I just have two words. Rest and fun.

Sounds pretty shallow doesn't it?

Well, not for me.

For the majority of my 30 years on this planet we call Earth I've spent most of my free time packing in extra-curricular activities like they were going out of style. Rest was for going to bed and fun was a reward for when all my work was done. I got very little of either. I said yes to everything asked of me and left little to no room for margin in my life. No white space. Full.

Good things, mind you. Full of good things. But full, nonetheless.

So this year I'm not scheduling every square inch of my brain matter and I've giving myself room to breathe. You know how you listen to the airline stewardess explain that in case of an emergency adults should put on their oxygen mask before assisting others? Well, that's pretty much how my life has not been. I always take care of others before myself. Obviously as a mother we have to do that the majority of the time. But I'm talking about everything, all the time, everywhere. I've always shied away from the phrase "self-help" and "self-care". It always seemed so self-centered and immature to me. But for the first time in my life, I am not able to ignore the signs of burnout in my soul. It's becoming quite evident that I need to focus on myself a little more than I ever have before. Ok, maybe a lot more. I'll spare you all the details, but this year was not good for me.

I need to remind myself that I am important too. My needs are just as important as the needs of others, so why do I always push myself aside and imagine those needs don't exist? I can't expect myself to be Superwoman who never has problems.

I'm learning that it's ok to have my feelings hurt, to need to talk things through, to be open and honest, to be transparent. I'm learning that life isn't as sugar-coated as I always imagined it would be, and I'm grieving that. I'm learning that we are all slightly messed up and no one is perfect, so we might as well admit it so we can work on it. I'm learning not to shove things under the rug, and that standing up for myself and confrontation aren't always necessarily a bad thing. I'm learning how to speak the truth in love. To say no. To stand strong. To not be manipulated and guilt-tripped. I'm learning how not to be a doormat. I'm learning. So much learning.

My first goal for this year is to journal as much as possible. (Notice how I didn't say "every day"? Gotta keep goals attainable.) I have journaled since I was 5 years old. When I die you can look through my diaries in a box in the closet and learn every thought I've ever had for my entire life. Oh goodness, have mercy.

But I've slacked off in the writing department and I'm ready to jump back in. My dear friend from church made me the most AMAZING journal I could ever dream of! She found an old book and made it into a cover to put around a journal. The best part is that she created it so that I can take out the journal when I'm finished and put in a new one! So I can use this cover for ever and ever! Genius I tell ya :)

I have lots of books, devotional books, Bible translations, and blogs/articles I will focus on reading every day and then journaling my thoughts. I am trying to consider my journaling and devotional time as the most important part of my ministry (you can refer to this post I wrote about it). If I'm not getting filled up then how can I give to my family, my church, or my friends? What's the point of ministry at all if I'm not constantly coming to The Well to quench my thirst? I've always loved doing devotions- that's not my problem. My problem was I was putting my devotional life and ministry life in two separate boxes. They are now in one box in my mind, so I will aggressively pursue them as one. My relationship with Jesus is my ministry. Everything else comes after that. Whatever pours out of my heart from that, then that is what I'm supposed to do. No more running around filling every need just because it needs to be met.

The number one difficulty I'm facing in my life right now, to be honest, is feeling like I'm letting people down. The old Casey is slowly dying away as a new Casey is emerging. The last thing I want to do is offend anyone or make them feel that they are unimportant to me. Quite the opposite, actually. I am such a habitual people-pleaser that it is really hurting more than helping. The only way I can be the mom, wife, friend, and pastor's wife that God has called me to be is to be a God-pleaser, not a people-pleaser. If I'm running around like a headless chicken trying to do everything everyone wants me to do, then I can't give 100% to anything. Why not focus on the few things God's calling me to do, and do them well, instead of wearing myself thin in the 100 other things I'm not necessarily called to?

The old Casey had lots of energy and enthusiasm and room for people-pleasing. The old Casey had lots of time to spend making sure you liked her and were happy with her choices. But this new Casey is different. Mathematically there just aren't enough hours in the day, and I just don't have the emotional energy I used to. Even if I wanted to do everything, I just can't anymore. My kids are getting older, and their needs are growing in number daily. Maybe when my kids are in junior high and high school I will have the time and energy once more to jump into more responsibility. But right now, these little ones need me, constantly, day in and day out. I am their only mom and God has called me to raise them. No one else is their mom. No one else can do the things I can do for them. So I will accept my calling just as I would a job career. I will focus and plan and schedule with the determination of a CEO. My family matters. And for the first time, I'm realizing that I matter too.

On one last note I will mention how friendship falls into my New Year's goals. My whole life I've been a giver. Big time. I give much of my time, energy, and emotions to my friends and family closest to me. I try to be a good listener, asking questions and being concerned with other's lives. But one day it hit me. I don't have many people in my life that reciprocate that. Many times I'll walk away from a conversation and realize I wasn't asked about myself at all and that I did the majority of the listening and nodding and smiling and praying. The pastor's wife/concerned friend in me LOVES doing this. It's just who I am and how God created me. I still want to get my masters degree in counseling someday. But I also need to consider that I deserve that same amount of concern and care. I've had to reevaluate some relationships in my life and distance myself in areas where I've felt this level of friendship did not exist. I think I kept people in my life by constantly being the one to pursue them and meet their emotional needs. And on a certain level as a pastor's wife that is necessary and part of my calling. But I also need to consider my emotional health and purposefully seek out friendships that will refresh, rejuvenate, and encourage me. So that's what I'm trying to do this year. I am guarding my heart against toxic relationships and pursuing healthy, life-giving ones instead.

I realize this post may make absolutely no sense to some people. But if you are a perfectionistic type A people-pleaser like me, then I think you might understand ;)

So, here's to 2015! May it bring some much needed rest and fun into my too busy, too serious life. May my 30th year of life bring me closer to Jesus and bring me to a healthier emotional place.

I pray the same for you, my dear friends :)


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