I love people. I love getting to know them and making new friends. I love being social and going to activities and feeding off of energy. I love serving people. I love talking with people on a deeper level and sharing our hearts with each other. I love vulnerability. I love that I’m in a place now where I can differentiate between healthy versus unhealthy energy and protect myself accordingly while still loving in a safe way.
A few weeks ago I made a new friend. She was a fleeting friend, one I only spoke with for a few minutes one day. She is also a single mom, recently divorced, and we shared just glimpses of our stories with each other. She shared how she is not dating right now in order to be there for her kids, how her kids have expressed that they like that it is just them and her, how they feel safe in that space. I told her that was wonderful she could provide that safe space for them, but that she also needed to recognize her own needs and take care of herself. She looked at me with pleading in her eyes and asked, “How do I do that? What does that look like?” It broke my heart a little bit.
Last night, I made another new friend. She expressed her sadness at how her children feel like second-hand citizens in their father’s life and how painful it is for her to send them there as they beg to stay with her because they feel their father loves his “new family” more than he loves them. She cried. My heart cracked for her as well.
I attend singles activities and see the smiles and laughter and watch the games and fun. I also feel the undercurrent of longing, watch the eyes watching others, wishing and wondering. I see the walls go up and down, fear so often the motivating factor in control.
Living this life is a tricky things. We are surviving, serving, doing our best, but also overwhelmed, looking for answers, needing help. There are many loudly independent people, staunchly single and proud of it, or fiercely self-reliant and refusing to need anyone else. It’s a defense mechanism. However, many of us–dare I say most of us–are lonely, yearning, and working to remain hopeful that we will find another someone someday who will fill the role of helpmeet, partner, and truly best friend forever.
The thing is, having a husband won’t fix it. I’ve known this in my head, but I was able to internalize it a little bit the other day. As I worked my way out of my latest downward slope, I realized that I would probably still be there even if I was married. The conglomeration of events that had pushed me past my most recent edge were a result of difficult things happening in my life, and my lack of making time for self-care and refueling to get through those difficult times. It had very little to do with being single.
My priorities get thrown out of whack. I want to meet and love and serve everyone. I want to talk and share and uplift. I want to be a light. I want to write a book, become a speaker. I want to invite everyone to come to Christ, to heal, to bring hope. I want to do so much. I want to save everyone.
But first, I have to save myself. And I can’t even do that. Only one person has the power to save. Only one person can fill the void, apply a balm for the aching, lift the burdens, provide the answers. Focusing on him will allow all else to fall into place. Recognizing and rearranging my priorities will create a much smoother path for me to follow. My first and primary sphere of influence is my center, it is myself.
I’ve been trying to work things out, to find my balance once again. I intended this blog post to help me work out how I’m going to save the world, to help me work out how I’m going to launch my big project, figure out my purpose, to outline exactly how I’ll reach all those women in need, how I’ll share all my great wisdom and insight and powerful perspective. As I wrote, it petered out. It didn’t feel authentic. That’s not the way I’m supposed to go right now.
Before I started writing, I prayed that I would be guided. When I first began this journey nearly two years ago, I felt as if I was riding a tidal wave, being pushed along by all-powerful hands, being guided to the point where my decisions barely felt as if they were my own. I’d like that again. Just to know without having to think. To go without having to stop. That season ended, though, and now I’m on my own two feet with my agency very much at play. My pride is along for the ride as always as well.
So, instead of launching my save the world plan, I am reevaluating what parts of my world truly need saving. In class, I discussed with the students about our spheres of influence. With whom can we make the most difference? Ourselves. And that is where we must begin. I’ve revamped it a little bit to help me remember to prioritize the people and things that receive the most energy from me. If I don’t have enough energy for myself, I focus on that sphere first. Then I can give energy outward from there. Priorities. My own world is where I need to focus. These are my current priority spheres. They might need to be adjusted sometimes. I might need to add or remove or rearrange some parts of some of the spheres, but those center two spheres will remain solid priorities always. When other things get too distracting, big, or overwhelming, I can refocus down to those two foundational spheres, make sure everything is solid there, and the rest will take care of itself. It will have to, because I will be busy with my priorities.
Sphere 1: Me-spiritual, mental, physical health
Sphere 2: My kids
Sphere 3: My friends
My church callings
Sphere 4: My community