The past four years have been tough on our family. Every time I thought I was getting a little breathing room, another crisis, health problem, or another big move with the kids would rear up and I would find myself on my knees again.
During these times, I’d often lay awake in bed — all my worries and hopes and thoughts swirling around me. I would wake up tired and be distracted throughout the day — the little problems and the big lying heavy on my heart.
I could feel this yearning to gently lay my problems on a closet shelf, close the door, and walk away from them for a little while.
I feel a yearning for some soul space.
But honestly, it’s not easy to find that space when you’re looking around at a house full of boxes, holding a screaming baby, dealing with a whining toddler, and wondering how you’re going to get food on the table before your husband comes home from work.
My years of difficulties have taught me a few things about finding an island of calm in the chaos:
- Acknowledge: When things are crazy it’s easy to careen from one task to the next, trying to keep your head above water. It’s harder to stand still and acknowledge that you need some space, some time to process everything that is going on. Sometimes we don’t want to acknowledge that we need some space to think because we know that it will dredge up things we don’t want to deal with. Trust me dear friends, it’s always better to deal with it.
- Prioritize: This is especially hard as a mom. Who’s plate gets filled last at dinner? It’s mom, right? We’re the same with giving ourselves the soul space that we need to function — we slate it last, if at all. After acknowledging that we need it, we need to prioritize it above other things. Even if it means those boxes will go unpacked for another week or we have to order take-out one more night.
- Discover: Once we acknowledge that we need some soul space and prioritize getting it, we need to discover what that space looks like for us. It will probably look a little different for everyone. I’m an introvert, so for me soul space looks like curling up by myself in front of the fire with a Bible, my journal, and a cup of tea. For someone else, it might look like meeting a good friend for coffee — someone who listens well and can tease out what you’re feeling deep down. I encourage you to think about what makes you give a great big sigh and say “ahhh, that’d be nice” when you think of it. Now go do that!
- Follow-up: After you had your little stretch of quiet or your talk with a friend or whatever, follow-up with what came up. Is there a relationship you need to mend? A work problem that’s been bothering you? Maybe you came up with a positive affirmation or prayer that you want to repeat each day. Whatever it is, I encourage you to keep going down the path where your soul space pointed you.
- Accept: Sometimes there’s just nothing that can be done about a situation that’s causing stress in our lives. We can’t change our husband’s job or our own right now. We can’t make our kids well or our family more supportive. Maybe we have plans to change those things, but it’s not going to happen immediately. These are some of the hardest places to live. To accept that life is often not perfect and ultimately, that we aren’t in control. It’s in these situations that I lean heavily on my belief that there is a God who loves us unconditionally and has plans to give us the future we hope for. I encourage you to think about what your soul can turn to when there just isn’t any way to make things better in the near term.