Have more than thou showest, speak less than thou knowest. ~ William Shakespeare
It’s all well and good to remind myself to live within the margins, but before I can begin to do that I have to decide where my margins are going to be. That can be very tricky emotional territory. There are so many voices telling us not to withhold any space for ourselves, and I think that’s especially true for women. There are the voices that speak from religious traditions of self-sacrifice. There are the voices that speak from the fear that you won’t be able to advance your career unless you prove how committed you are. There are the voices of family and friends, reminding you of their needs and desires. There are the voices that speak from our cultural expectations of what moms/wives/daughters “should” look like and “should” do.
I think about the moms I know who feel guilty trying to set aside a few minutes for themselves, at times resorting to locking themselves in the bathroom only to hear the voices of the small children they love calling from outside the door. I think about my friends who have tended ill and aging parents, even leaving their own homes for their parents’s so that their parents could stay in familiar surroundings. I think about the women I know who are at the office before anyone else and don’t leave until everyone else has gone home, believing that’s the best way to prove their worth and commitment to the company. Giving sacrificially can be a beautiful example of love and care. Giving sacrificially may be the only option when resources are few and the need is great. Giving sacrificially, however, happens best when it flows out of a well-tended soul.
Have more than you show.
To tend my soul well, I can’t make all of me available to everyone. None of us can, nor were we intended to. I must withhold to myself a reserve of emotional energy and time and focus. Before I am anyone else’s anything, I am a child of the Divine One. Out of that relationship God has declared that mine is the only soul I am responsible to tend well. My well-tended soul then becomes my resource for being the spouse, the partner, the parent, the daughter, the friend that I desire to be as I reflect God’s image.
This is Day 17 of 31 Days of Soul Tending and the focus is living within the margins. If the idea of withholding space for yourself is new or uncomfortable, start small. Schedule a few minutes for yourself next week to sit with a coffee and a book, or to take a walk through the neighbourhood, or anything that is refreshing to your soul. Every change begins with small steps. You can do this.