This week, I had the privilege of going out with some dear friends to celebrate a couple of birthdays in our group. When I am with these women, I am always left feeling fed, and grateful, and restored. We have all been friends for many years, and a book club is what brought us all together as we are now.
I was thinking back to my early years of motherhood when I was exhausted and lonely and had somehow forgotten how to make time for myself. I remember it feeling impractical, expensive, and intangible somehow to find time for “self care,” a weighted word that somehow made me feel guilty that I couldn’t figure it out. Then one magical day at a baby shower, I was asked to join a book club. I had always been an avid reader, and it sounded amazing to read and discuss books with other women, but the most exciting thing was that I would be able to get out of the house at least once a month!
During that season of my life, it felt rare to get out socially, and it became a turning point for me. In my earliest years of motherhood, I was isolated and struggled to find friends. Slowly, I found a group to have play dates with and fill the days a little and that was such a gift, but the true restoration of my soul came with making the time to forge deep and meaningful relationships away from my children.
If you are a young mom and feel like you haven’t found “your people,” ask the Lord to show them to you; seek out at least one or two women you can find refuge in. If you have people but never seem to find time to see them, make it a priority. I have always loved Psalm 27:9 which reminds us that “a sweet friendship refreshes the soul.” We live our days in the trenches, the needs that surround us are enormous, and it is crucial that we refresh our souls in the companionship of those who truly understand the beauty and the sorrow of this vocation.
As I sat among my dear friends, I realized how therapeutic it was just to be together. Six of the eight of us that night have children with special needs, some of us work outside the home, some are still having babies. We all love and embrace this vocation, and yet we all feel like running away sometimes. In the almost two decades that we have been friends, we have welcomed over a dozen children together; we have buried parents and babies; we have lost jobs and struggled with children we can’t control, but our love for one another has been sustaining and life giving.
If self-care is a loaded word that makes you feel like you’re failing because you hate to exercise, you can’t afford pedicures, and you have no idea what taking care of yourself even looks like, look to your friends. Find a night to escape, have a drink together, see a movie; order pizza for your family and get out of the house before you’re falling asleep. Even better, find a way to see each other at least once a month. Just the expectation of time away among like-minded souls will sustain you. We need each other, and the Lord longs to reveal his love and his goodness through the love and care of our friends. We may live in the trenches, but we don’t have to live there alone.