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When Moms are Tender (With Themselves)

I laid on the bed, heavy sobs rocking my body. An internal barrage of how dumb I had been rattled around my head. I played the events over and over in the cinema of my mind. It had been a simple mistake, a mere mixup with what turned out to be an easy fix. Yet I couldn't let go of the guilt and embarrassment gripping my heart.

A lithe hand with dimples and chipped nail polish rested a note on my chest and I heard feet quietly shuffle out the door as quickly as they had come in.

"It's okay, mom. Everyone makes mistakes," the note read. The words blurred as tears once again filled my eyes and sobs flowed anew but this time in relief as the the balm of grace was administered to my heart through the words of a child.

It had been nearly two years of extreme stress and my body and emotions were beginning to show it. I felt like the diseased woman reaching wearily up to touch the hem of Jesus' robe: weak, weary and desperate. I needed Him to reach down and lift me up as tenderly and compassionately as He had done for that precious woman so many years ago.

As I soaked in the Word over the following days and weeks, and allowed Him to embrace me tenderly, I came to a realization:

I need to be as tender with myself as He is with me; as I am with my children.

There is a time for intense struggle, discipline and pushing oneself, to be sure. Yet there is also a time for tenderness and gentleness with ourselves.

So, I find myself in a season of intentional tenderness with myself. What does that look like?

Saying no to more busyness and yes to rest. I've had several requests to do various things and I've allowed myself to say no to the things that I know will only drain my already dangerously-low resources of energy, and mental/emotional strength.

Setting up camp in passages of Scripture that allow my spirit to rest in the goodness of God. Looking at experiences with Jesus like the one above, wrapping up in the promises of the Psalms like a warm blanket. Spending more time before God in silence, letting Him heal and restore and whisper to my heart, rather than me being active and vocal in prayer.

Moving my body in ways that restore and rejuvenate rather than push and fatigue. Sure, I may have done Insanity last year and loved it, but right now workouts like those only leave me utterly exhausted and useless. I know that I feel, think and function better when I'm active, so I'm involving myself in activities that move my body, but are gentle and restorative. I'm doing lots of walking, pilates inspired activities, and gentle dancing.

Have you been pushing yourself to the limits for too long as well, friend? Do you need to take some time to be tender with your own heart, mind and body? What are your favorite ways to be tender with yourself? What's your biggest struggle with self-tenderness?

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