I sprang from my hospital bed at the sound of a knock against the door, anxious for my family to meet my new baby. Thick blue hospital-issued socks kept my feet warm against the cold tile floor as I pulled the curtain aside and opened the door to greet my first visitors.
“I wasn’t expecting you to answer!” my father-in-law remarked.
I laughed, giddy from the high of childbirth and feeling invincible as I invited them in to meet their newest grandson. I basked in the love that filled my room that afternoon and prided myself on not feeling bedridden or weak so soon after delivery. I enjoyed the cupcakes visitors dropped off as they visited throughout the weekend (it was my birthday, too) and relished in telling my birth story.
Seven weeks later, I returned to work, fulfilling all the responsibilities I had before becoming a mother, regardless of the new roles I juggled. I upheld a standard for myself without adjusting for this new season. Over the next five years, I added to my plate until I found myself overwhelmed with three small children, more responsibilities at work, and a case of postpartum depression and anxiety. I prayed for wisdom. I prayed for rest.
I prayed for help.
I believed I’d appear strong if I bounced back quickly from challenges and obstacles. Now I admire the strength of women who advocate for themselves. They establish parameters, and they do it gracefully and unapologetically. It might look like allowing friends to bring meals during a difficult season, leaving work on time, or politely declining an invitation.
There is strength in delivering a firm “no” to guard the “yes” that gives us space to process and heal.
I was striving to maintain a self-imposed image of strength that really only mattered to me.
I could have accepted help and acknowledged that I am one part of the body of Christ, and He did not create me to be all parts to all people. He gave me gifts, and I am not perfect at them.
I could have let my husband answer the door. God would not think less of me. Measuring our self-worth by our own expectations inhibits us from fully embracing God’s unconditional love.
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will. For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.” (Romans 12:2, NIV)
Where can you slow down? Embrace your current season and its limitations. Know that your responsibilities may change from season to season, but God knows your heart. Allow yourself to receive His gifts.