I have this picture of us as women trying to carry all of the things: kids, career, hobbies, housework, goals, dreams, etc. In the picture, I see myself trying to carry everything like I do when I bring ALL the groceries in at one time. You know what I mean right? It’s like we can’t bear to walk back a second or oh Lord, a third time to get the bags. As silly as it sounds, this is what our lives sometimes look like. We have so many things that we are carrying. We want to do our very best in all areas, and be everything to everyone. But then, there is that one time when the milk falls, the bags breaks, and we are left with a big mess. I have been in those spots too many times to count and I’m learning it is easier to put a bag down or ask for help, than to clean up spilled milk. It doesn’t seem easier but in the long run I know that is the truth.
Here are the things I’m learning:
- Sometimes, I’ve got too many bags! You can’t do everything in every season. There have been seasons where I’ve killed it. Done all the things. But then life changes, babies happen, new jobs, health circumstances, whatever it is. And you need to say no to things. Don’t even take that responsibility when you have your hands full. Now to be clear, I am not saying you should be uncommitted to yourself, your marriage, or your kids. That is a no brainer. I am saying that it is okay to not have your plate overflowing with busyness. Busyness can look like saying yes to every function you are invited to. It can look like volunteering over and over again. It can look like watching 100 tv shows. Letting go of some things you are carrying is hard because other people might think you need to keep carrying it and will try to put it back in your hand. But they aren’t the ones carrying it. You are. So you get to decide.
- I have bags on the inside too! The internal bags we carry are just as, if not heavier than the external bags. Jesus tells us very clearly that He wants to help. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 Here, Jesus is basically saying, “Let me carry your stuff. I’ve got this.“ Not only does He want to carry your burdens, He wants to give you rest in return. One of the many beauties of Jesus is that there is always something in return. In this case, rest for your soul. To me, this means the junk that gives me anxiety, fear, anger, you fill in the blank, He is going to replace that “bag” with rest for my soul, or you might call it peace.
- Ask for help! Honesty time: I am not good at this. Like at all. I am learning and I am making progress. But this one…this bullet point is tough. 1 and 2, most of the time I can handle. But for some reason, when I need to ask a family member, a friend, or even for my husband to help me so I can do whatever, I immediately do one of two things. One-I give up and don’t even try to do whatever it was OR two-I try to power through and do it anyway, which probably ends with the spilled milk we talked about before. But here is the place where asking for help gets tricky. In my own experience, if the help I need is to complete a “must” such as cleaning, HEB trips, anything with my job, or something that I “must do”, then I can usually ask for help. I might feel bad but I know I have to do whatever it is. Now, if I am asking for someone to watch my kids so I can write, workout, have a date with my husband, or sit in silence because that is music to this mama’s ears, then I feel guilty. Because it isn’t something that absolutely must happen, I might listen to this voice that says, “well… you don’t have to so maybe you shouldn’t.” And for a long time, I listen to the voice. I didn’t write, or workout, or do anything that I wanted, if it meant asking for help. I didn’t chase my dreams because I felt like I couldn’t ask. I believed the lie that my goals and dreams weren’t as important as any other bag I was carrying. And by doing that, I wasn’t being fully me. I am learning to ask for help, even the times that are hard. I don’t have it figured it out but I do know that the dreams in my heart are not there by accident. This means, I plan with my husband times he can watch the boys and I workout. I have a goal to complete a half marathon so I am training. I want an exceptional marriage, so part of that means we have to create time for each other and plan date nights-we have to ask for help. Obviously, I enjoy writing and I need the time to think. You try writing or even thinking through your thoughts with two little boys playing transformers in the background. Although it is entertaining, it isn’t ideal. I have to ask for help.
From her book Girl, Stop Apologizing, Rachel Hollis has an entire chapter on this very topic. (I HIGHLY recommend this book!) She admits and discusses how she has whole teams, as most people at her “Level” do, helping her accomplish her goals and getting it done. I am convinced that the 2 biggest reasons we don’t ask for help is because of the fear of what “they” will think of us and/or if we ask, it means we have failed. Both are ridiculous! First of all, who cares what they think?! One of my favorite quotes from Rachel Hollis is “Someone else’s opinion of you is NONE of your business”. Secondly, if you are asking for help, you are trying to keep going. That means you aren’t quitting, you just need help to get it done.
- Carrying bags alone sucks! We were not meant to do this alone. I have known and heard this for some time but now I am choosing to live in this truth. There is something beautiful about a person coming alongside another person and carrying that burden with them. I don’t mean just listening to someone’s pain or struggle and then later hoping it gets better. I mean truly standing in faith with them. I feel like that phrase gets tossed around a lot so let me elaborate. Standing in faith with someone to me is allowing someone else to help carry my bags, letting her look inside, walk in my house, and even help put the groceries away with me. I mean dropping all the fakeness and being the real me. To allow my close circle to see inside my heart enough to know exactly what I am carrying. That is doing life together. When honesty and trust are actively present without the fear of judgement, that is real relationship.
So if you’re a mom/wife/girl/student/breathing human, I pray this blesses you to know you are not the only one with tired arms or a worn out spirit. I have been there and some days, I am still there. But these key points, are helping. They are helping me remember it is okay to put bags down, ask for help, talk to my people, and unpack it with Jesus. As women we carry so much but we don’t have to carry it all, all the time.