I’m one who loves to grow. Of course I don't always enjoy the growth process, but I deeply desire to further my relationship with the Lord. To be a more well rounded individual. To be constantly learning. To be aware of who I am and how I can be better.

That is until about two years ago when I began to crumble.

“No more reading for a while.”

These were the compassionate words of someone that I trusted. Words that I didn’t even know I desperately needed to hear. You see, growth is incredibly healthy and very encouraged. That is, until you take it too far and are tempted by this false idea and goal of perfection. This idea that maybe if you try enough, do enough, follow close enough, then maybe you will be enough. My schedule was consumed with meetings. I was only home long enough to essentially sleep and shower then go back at it again the next day. But this is the expectation that was brewing in my culture around me so I felt it was normal. I had also lived most of my life with two planners and a scheduled day so I didn’t see the trouble. If I could just work fast enough and long enough then maybe my worth will be enriched with deeper skill sets and extra responsibility. Constantly trying to prove myself to people, the Lord, or even to myself.

But the cycle didn’t ever stop. When it did then it felt as if I was missing something. That maybe I had dropped the ball and disappointment would be just around the corner. All the while, I was constantly judging myself while pretending that it was justifiably pursuit of growth. Now—there is a difference. There’s a difference between seeking to grow and seeking to prove your worth. As women, we are immersed in a culture that tells us to “be better” and “look better”. To be overextended in every area of our lives while making sure to always appear put together.
Friends,, my life was in pieces as I expressed all of these “feelings” to my counselor. Yes—counselor. (It was best thing I’ve ever done for myself). I sat there on that brown couch trying to make sense of it all. To make them understand the importance of all these “things” that I had filled my life with.  Trying to explain how I needed to be at everything,. How I needed to meet all of these unrealistic expectations. How I’d read all these books and how they’d open my eyes to new things…until the end of my session came.

“No more reading for a while. You judge yourself too harshly. You expect yourself to be able to carry the world on your shoulders. You’ve got to rest. How are you ever supposed to heal and move forward when you don’t even have enough time to create healthy boundaries in your life?”

In Shauna Niequist’s book Present Over Perfect, she puts it best: “The more I listen to myself, my body, my feelings, and the less I listen to the “should” and “must” and “to-do” voices, the more I realize my body and spirit have been whispering all along, but I couldn’t hear them over the chaos and noise of the life I’d created. I was addicted to this chaos, but like any addiction, it was damaging to me. Here’s what I know: I thought the busyness would keep me safe. They keep me numb. Which is not the same as safe.”

I was numb yet I kept on pretending to feel. I had this expectation that stopping to breathe for even  a little while was weak.  There was even a fear that if I stopped to look at my life long enough, that if I took the time to see who I really was….well then there would be no coming back from that disappointment. How could I ever be enough? When could I ever just stop and take a break for a while? Why did God have such a high expectation threshold over my life that He knew I was killing myself to meet?

One day, I did finally stop.
I stopped trying. Stopped criticizing. And the truth began to finally settle in. I slowly started saying “no” instead of “yes”. I started creating margins in my schedule. I started putting value on times of rest.

I’m not perfect and I never will be. I can’t fix everything. I can’t be everything for every person. But God never asked me to be. He never asked you to be either. When we finally have that revelation, we're free.

So I say to you, sister, stop.

Take a step back.

To you mommas, wives, daughters, grandmas, working women, stay-at-home moms, boss ladies—Those commitments that keep you from enjoying your life and soaking in the simple, little moments, let some of them go. I know you can't let them all go, but at least open your hands and start writing in pencil. I am begging you to take a breath! A long, deep one! We have one life to live so let's get to it! Let's actually live it!

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