A classic movie and one of my favorites while growing up was A League of their Own. To this day, I still remember an amazing quote from the film spoken by Coach Jimmy Dugan to Dottie when she told him about leaving the league because it got too hard.
“It’s supposed to be hard. If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. The hard… is what makes it great.”
This quote comes to mind as I reflect on a conversation that I had with my husband. We were eating dinner at a new restaurant as part of our weekly date and the thought crossed my mind to ask him two questions that I have asked before.
What do you really like about our marriage and what would you change?
To be honest, sometimes the prompting to speak those words comes and I hesitate because you just never know what will be said. Maybe he will drop a bomb and put something on the table that will be hard to hear. Do I really want to hear the truth? Both of those thoughts came to mind and I paused for a second deciding whether to move forward. I tend to be a girl who wants the truth even if it hurts and I figured if the prompting was coming, then it must be God guiding me, so I went for it.
I love my husband so much, he is so awesome. His answer to what he really likes about our relationship was that it is centered around God. Could a wife really ask for a better answer? His answer to what he would change surprised me…………..
“I wish you didn’t have to work so hard to be in a good place.”
I had to ask some clarifying questions to truly understand where my husband was coming from on this one. As we talked more about it, I heard that my husband’s heart wants things to be easier for me, he wants me to have to do less and be able to enjoy more, he sees my struggles and wants them taken away. I told you my husband is amazing!
His statement rolled around in my head that entire evening. In church the next morning, God gave me more insight. I realized that I have had my husband’s very same thoughts about my life and have definitely wrestled with self-pity, guilt and shame regarding the requirements of my self-care. The truth is that I do have to work hard to be and stay in a good place. There are meetings, vitamins and medications, doctor’s appointments, sleep and rest, phone calls, self-assessment, prayer and meditation, exercise, journaling, reading and studying, a very specific food plan, light therapy, and I’m sure more that aren’t coming to mind right now. It is a lot and consumes significant amounts of time and energy and sometimes feels like a full-time job. I was just encouraging a friend the other day empathizing with her struggle with some increased self-care that she needs right now. It is hard, especially for us women whose natural tendency is to care for everyone else first and gives ourselves any crumbs that may be left over. It is a challenge when you are confronted with your needs and can’t run from them anymore, when your only choices are to meet those needs or run yourself into the ground.
Last fall and again this spring, I experienced such a crossroads and was forced to make some tough decisions. Was I going to slow down and prioritize myself or was I going to deplete myself into illness? With the help of God, my husband, children and my God Squad (this is what I call the amazingly supportive and loving women in my life), I have chosen to take my foot off the gas pedal some to make more room in my schedule for the increased self-care that I need. This has been extremely uncomfortable and requires me to stay in close contact with God and give myself permission multiple times a day to love myself even when it doesn’t feel right or I don’t want to.
The morning after our conversation, in the presence of God and my church family I found myself in quiet prayer thanking God for the hard in my life. I am a very emotional, passionate and sensitive person, I always have been. I feel things deeply, my highs are high and my lows can be very low. Several years ago I was misdiagnosed bipolar because of my natural tendency to experience extreme emotions. After much trial and error and self-exploration, I know today that I am simply someone who has been gifted with strong emotions and I am okay with that. Yes, sometimes it is difficult and takes a lot more effort to work through them. However, just as my lows can be pretty low, I also get to experience immense joy, peace, gratitude and blessing. I know that I couldn’t have the highs without the lows. The lows make the highs sweeter and the highs make the lows more manageable. Yes, it is hard, but it’s the hard that makes it great!