“Is there a possibility that you could help with the deer tonight?” my husband asked.
I looked at him with hesitation. “I’m not sure,” I replied. “I’ll go get the girls and see what tonight looks like.”
I knew he understood because just a few weeks ago, I had asked him about taking a writing assignment from my publisher. When I told him I might not even be able to cook as many dinners, he still agreed that I should do it. Things are crowding in tightly this month, but we support each other!
I had been running all day with home school, getting flyers made, setting up a new bank account, and the fun-but-scary, new experience of walking into a radio office asking if they would air my new book before its launch. Getting my heart on paper to be published was vulnerable; sharing it with a complete stranger in a back room office was almost worse.
My man had been up much of the night before picking up a freshly killed deer [yes, we harvest and eat road-kill] and hanging it. He stayed up later than needed, and slept much of the next day, then watched butchering videos while he drank his coffee before getting an after-dinner start on the processing. This was all great–he’s simply a natural, born-night owl!
Because I’m a home school mom, my day begins early and I had been buzzing around all day like a bee that’s just been mortally wounded. I was doing dinner dishes and needed to run out one more time to bring the girls home from dance. Both of them had their share of attitudes that day, and my brain was fried. Reading a story to the little guy felt like a huge chore, much less cutting up a deer late into the night, so guess what I did?
I was brave enough to do what I needed to do before another day of home school. I stayed in a warm house, showered, and tucked little ones in bed.
Brat, or what? Pampering myself while my man cuts meat in the cold, dark night with our son?
My journey out of codependency led me to realize fully that I didn’t have to meet all the desires of another in order to be loved. Or to be a good wife and mother. Or to be a good woman. I’d spent many years trying all of it, and it exhausted me to the point of daydreaming about getting sick just so I could rest.
I was a worn-out pleaser in more ways than one. I didn’t know how to care for my own heart just as I didn’t know how to care for my own body. Emotionally exhausted, I performed for months while having emotional outbursts every few months due to the build up of pressure.
I crawl into bed with a book—the one I had just ordered off Amazon for a penny—and start reading. I grab my phone and text my husband goodnight, along with thanks for his care of us [even his night-owl deer processing], and my emoji is a smile.
If I had stayed up with him, I’d have been exhausted both mentally and physically. I probably would have resented him for a late start and lots of sleep that day. I would have wanted to remind him how hard I’d been working all day, how much I was sacrificing to help him, and how early my day would begin the next morning.
In a pitiful attempt to love and be loved, I wouldn’t have loved much at all. Because when we string ourselves out to dry, we become brittle, and we crack easily.
Why is it that Christian women are so exhausted and busy? What are we trying to prove? That we are angels with no human need?
I wake the next morning to a warm house and a counter full of meat dishes. He shoots me a text, apologizing for it, and I’ll send him one, thanking him for his work and telling him I’ll gladly do them.
Did you know that when we care for ourselves, we care for others better? If I push past my limits on a regular basis, I will resent those dishes and want to remind him [again], that if he started his work earlier in the day, he would have had time to do the dishes. I’d have wanted to remind him that we’d be going to bed together with a deer butchered [perhaps even together], and all the dishes done.
Being set free from co-dependence allows you to free your man to be himself because you no longer believe you have to be everything, for everyone, no matter what. You no longer believe that being a helper suitable to your man means being a needless servant for your man.
I’m in my office this morning with God, because I need Him. Those dishes sit, because I need God more than I need a spotless kitchen at the wake of dawn. And He whispers to me, “This process is OK, and I’m in you and with you and will work through you.”
I accept His words, and I worship. He encompasses everything, and I don’t need to. I only need to be full of love, and love on those around me in the ways True Love prompts me to do—not the way codependency forces me to do so that I can be loved and approved.
Are you an exhausted pleaser? If so, please take a step back and learn how to be a positive pleaser! You can serve others even better when you begin to care for your heart, body, and soul right along with caring for those around you.
Selfishness can also come in the form of over-doing it. You give until you break for your own reasons more than because you love others. If you find yourself exhausted, resentful, feeling like you’ll break—take a step back. Quit trying to do everything or you may soon be able to do nothing.
Sometimes, keeping things smooth for everyone is our pitiful attempt at keeping things smooth for ourselves.
I took a step back for my physical needs. I found a mentor for my heart needs. I spill those places I don’t know how to get through on my own, and together we pray and talk our way through life. In accepting the fact that I need things just like those around me, I’m more fully alive than ever before. But I had to become more afraid of breaking than I was of not having approval of everyone around me.
Your life will become full when you accept the fact that you are fully human!