(Originally posted to @marikoclark Instagram)
Every parent can relate to this scenario: I come home from a productive but tiring afternoon in the office. I'm excited to decompress and shove some food in my face...but then I open the door to A MAELSTROM OF CHAOS AND NEED. I am hit in the face by the banshee cries of three separate humans, 27 different questions and the faintest whiff of poop. My very first thought is:
"NO -I CANNOT- I AM DEPLETED."
But I've been working on my thought life lately. Separating myself from my swirling emotions and rapid-fire inner dialogue. (Enneagram 4s, this is important work for us!) I've been trying to remember to 'take every thought captive'. So I grabbed that thought, carried it into the next room and examined it, holding it up to the Light. An inquisition of sorts.
Hello, little thought. Where did you come from? Are you real or not real?
Because – elementary as this may seem – I am still learning that I have choices when it comes to my thoughts. Just like emotions, the arrival of thoughts is not within my control. BUT THAT DOESN’T MEAN THAT I AM WITHIN THEIR CONTROL. Thoughts come and go but their autonomy doesn’t necessarily make them legitimate.
I have found this to be very important. I think the Biblical directive to take our thoughts captive is an accurate visual. I picture these thoughts like little fireflies, buzzing across my headspace. They’re smaller than me. Annoying and quick, but well within my ability to capture.
So this thought that consumed me upon entrance to my kitchen – “I CANNOT. I AM DEPLETED.” I remembered that it was just like a bug : separate, small, observable. I clapped it into an imaginary jar and took a good look.
Are you true or false?
I compared it to the Truth I’ve memorized, God’s promises I’ve ingested…and I decided this one was a liar and therefore not welcome.
And so I made my case to this little thought. (I’ve found that this helps. I used to squash the bad ones and move on. But now I take a minute for rebuttal.) I sent that pesky fly on its way and said, “Tell your friends - any of the others like you out there. Y’all are not welcome here and this is why.”:
YES. I CAN.
I am actually NOT depleted.
Because I am not a victim -- but I am also not a Source. Sure, if I was the one supplying peace, patience and energy to my family, I would have been depleted years ago. But – thankfully- I don't need to be the Source, only the Conduit. I am never depleted and I can do all things -- but only THROUGH Christ. I only need to acknowledge and connect with the Spirit who promises to be a well that won't run dry.
(Easier said than done, right?)
But, I don't expect to master my thoughts in a day - I do it one at a time. So I dismissed this one, took some deep breaths, prayed a weird prayer that was mostly HELPTHANKSWOW and returned to my people.
A word about this specific thought.
I am all for self-care. I am all for declaring needs, setting boundaries and insisting on the space you need to thrive.
I think humans need more of that.
Women need more of that.
Moms need more of that.
But I don't believe everything I think.
ESPECIALLY in regards to my work/life balance.
And once I made that decision, it forced me to acknowledge the subtle differences between thoughts that suggest I set healthy boundaries and thoughts that shrink back in anticipation of scarcity. And it has helped me to reject the thoughts that lie about who and whose I am. So if/when I ask for space or time to fill my tank, it needs to be rooted in Truth and Abundance. It needs to look less like,
"I CAN’T. I’M DEPLETED.”
And more like,
“I CAN…But I choose not to -- for the sake of all of us. Here's how we can make that work."
Here's how I can honor the time and needs of everyone in this family, including myself. Here's how I can ask for help when I need it and give graciously at the same time.
This thought evaluation practice is tedious, but I am slowly seeing the benefits. I'm seeing the way it permeates our family's rhythm, overflowing from my head and into our daily conversation. When my thoughts are filtered, my words are curated and my actions more purposed. It changes everything. It forces me to quit opting out because I’m scared and start communicating with myself and my family. And most importantly, it forces me to really dig into what God says about who I am and who He is.
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