It’s easy to imagine what walking through quicksand must feel like. First it would slow you down; and you would be struggling all the time, yet making very little progress. Your limbs would feel heavy and cumbersome, and the effort would become too much for your weary body. In fact, unless you had someone to pull you out, you would probably just give up and sink. Maybe you don’t even have to imagine, because right now it feels like you’re living it every day. And if you’re not, chances are that you have at some stage of your life.
It’s so isolating to feel like this. The effort to smile, but on a brave face, still be there for others and help people almost becomes more than you can bear. To keep the house running, and the kids fed takes almost every ounce of energy you have. Yet you feel selfish at the same time, constantly reminding yourself that there are millions of people in the world worse off than you. You have moments of joy and clarity in your day, but if you admitted the truth, you would say that generally you feel like you’re walking through quicksand. And you hate it.
In times of difficulty, relationships are my shelter. When I know I have people I can talk to honestly about how I feel, who are praying for me and have got my back, I feel better. It is truly a gift from God to have these people in my life. However, there are definitely times when I feel disconnected and it’s hard to reach out. But it’s usually in those times that God will bring someone along who is willing to reach out to me.
Our family has been through a lot in the past couple of years, and it is truly inspirational for me to see how far my girls have come. But it’s also made me realise that being strong for everyone else is tough. It’s been suggested to me that maybe I am suffering a delayed reaction to everything that has happened. That neglecting self-care for such a long time has taken its toll on me, and that I can’t keep giving if I have nothing left. Sometimes I feel exhausted, but I still struggle with feeling selfish if I say no, or try to do something for myself.
One thing I know for sure is that I’m not alone in this. As women, we just have a tendency to put everyone else first. I have learnt, whether it’s a child, a parent, or a friend, somebody always wants something from us. They keep on asking because they know we will eventually say yes. But why do we do it? How often is our mouth saying yes, but our heart is screaming no? Why are we more interested in what people think of us, than following the prompting of the Holy Spirit? Why are we continuing to say yes to things that God is clearly telling us to say no to?
I wish I could answer these questions for myself. As a Christian woman, I feel a compulsion to do some good in the world and help others. But I’m also learning that it’s actually possible to give too much of myself away. God doesn’t want me to solve every problem, but He does want me to follow His prompting. I have discovered that consulting Him before I say yes can be a life-changing. Because maybe God has someone else in mind for the things He wants me to say no to.
I have no doubt that God wants to use each and every one of us in our own unique way. We just have to learn how to do only what He puts in front of us, and then trust Him with the rest. It’s not selfish to care for ourselves; even Jesus had to escape the crowds! It makes sense that we have to replenish our souls in order to keep giving.
I still wrestle with feeling the injustice of everything that’s happened to us. We have been attacked and betrayed, and some of our friends have fallen for the lie, and some haven’t. I think of Jesus on the cross, being persecuted and having false accusations hurled at Him, and I remember that He remained silent. He never defended himself. But I can truthfully say, remaining silent in the face of the lies is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Sometimes it’s a daily struggle to keep walking through the quicksand.
But time alone with God is what my soul craves, and when I have it, I start to feel like myself again. Sometimes I read the bible, or sometimes I listen to worship music and do a devotion. I always try to start by finding something to be thankful for. Little by little, God is using our time together to heal me. And to remind me that no matter what anyone else thinks, He knows my heart, and He knows the truth. He is teaching me discernment and reminding me of what is mine to do, and what is His. That in Him, I already have everything I will ever need. That reassurance is what keeps me going, even when I want to give up. It is His hand I grasp to pull me out of the quicksand.