It’s Easter and I am alone. At Panera Bread. Alone with my light roast, my chocolate chip cookie and JJ Heller streaming through my ear buds.
Last night as I grabbed a last minute ingredient at the grocery store, I noticed moms desperately looking through the picked over bunnies, candy, and baskets. Suddenly I realized that this was the first year that I had not bought Easter gifts for my kids. It just had not occurred to me.
I kept moving toward the checkout at peace with that. No panic. No guilt. No gifts. Peace. I’ve always given them a gift, but this year has been different and I am learning to give myself room for forgotten gifts and breakfast for dinner. For late permission slips and forgotten picture money.
No one woke up today asking for presents, but we all sat together listening to Hot Pastor. Together. In the same row of chairs. We sang and shared communion. After lunch, each drifted to their corners. Some napping, some reading, one baking, two playing a game. Peace.
That is when I quietly grabbed my laptop, too many books, my journal and favorite pen and came to Panera. Alone. Who goes to Panera on Easter alone? Shouldn’t I be with my family?
No. I’m here to tip the scales. Not with my chocolate chip cookie. I’m talking about a different set of scales. The one that gets out of balance- my soul balance. Each day I love and nurture, clean and cook, teach,cheer and encourage. My soul scale is tipped toward my family and students. I would not have it any other way, and there is joy in caring for them, loving them, being loved by them. For a while. Then it’s time to add some weights to the other side.
Balance is a beautiful thing. With balance there is joy too. That’s why I am at Panera alone on Easter. I’m seeking soul balance. I packed my bag with my favorite things, came to my favorite place for my favorite cookie.
I’m thinking of you. I am wondering about your soul. We girls fight for balance in a world that screams for us to keep adding weights on the other side- serve more, get more involved, work more, give more, make your kids be more…It doesn’t take long to lose our joy when we are out of balance.
When my soul scale is not balanced, I am overwhelmed. I resent my kids for needing me so much. I take on the role of Martyr Mom. “Do you know how hard I work every day so you can have that iphone? You don’t even appreciate me!!!!!!” I look at my family and instead of seeing my sweet husband and precious children, I see seven straws that are sucking me dry. It all becomes an impossible chore that exhausts me, a life that in no way resembles the “abundant life” that Jesus offers.
Weird to others, but refueling to me, I love to write. Right now as my clumsy fingers type, I’m smiling. As I listen to melodies of truth and read a book that points me back to Jesus in this quiet place, I feel my soul scale moving.
For you, what will it take to balance your soul scale? A long walk? Time with a dear friend? A movie alone? A good book? A good night’s rest? From one woman to another, do whatever it takes! Whatever is holding you back, push through. Your family may whine at first, but there will be no complaints when they encounter your refreshed spirit.
In fact, Hot Pastor has looked at me before and said, “I love you but you need to go get coffee. Now. Leave. We will be fine.”
A few weeks ago, I was sharing with him how hard it has been since I began working full time, to not have the energy left to write. He went into full-on life coach mode and began asking great questions. “What would it take for you to refuel enough to write once a week?” “What’s keeping you from doing that?” “What will life look like if you don’t find a way to refuel? What if you don’t write?” Suddenly, I knew. Change had to come. The only person who could bring it was me.
You know what his words did? They set me free.
I went to Panera that weekend spiritually dry and emotionally drained. I read God’s word and prayed. I came home and prayed more, desperately seeking the joy that only Jesus gives. Then something amazing happened. I crawled into my bed with my laptop and began writing. Tap, tap tap. My hands and heart on the keys. Happy fingers doing what my creator knitted into my soul.
My handsome life coach then asked, “could you do that every week?”
The next Sunday I returned to my happy spot and let the Lord do what only he can do. It had been a rough week, emotional roller coaster that I did not choose to ride but found myself screaming over hills and through loops regardless. I did not have a word for you, I just needed to process life. And breathe.
The result was a post that encouraged some of you that must have been on that loop-the-loop with me. God does that. He “recycles” our pain when we allow him. This week has not been as tough, but I felt God calling me just the same, to a quiet place of soul balancing rest. So here I am tapping out life on this keyboard, hoping that the words of Christ reach your heart.
You are free to rest, to refuel, to do what God has created you to do. Without guilt. You can go to Panera on Easter and your family will survive. Planet Earth will keep turning.
Jesus has abundant life for you. He sacrificed everything so that you could walk in that. It’s hard to walk in his joy when we can only crawl from exhaustion. What will you do today to balance your soul scale? What will life look like if you don’t?
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:28