Jonathan came home on a beautiful, slightly overcast Saturday afternoon, all smiles and rainbows. He had been away leading a silence and solitude retreat with a bunch of guys up in the North Georgia mountains, so he was pseudo euphoric as he stepped through the front doors of our home, no doubt ready to be greeted by two eager children and the embrace of a loving wife.
This is not how the story played out.
I had been with my children and their incessant arguments for 48 straight hours. I can still hear the screams and taunts, the “MOMMY, ELLERY HIT MEEEEE!!!” and “ELIAS WON’T SHARE!!!!” echoing through the drab and empty chambers of my once brightly colored, well-appointed brain. I barely shuffled down the stairs with clothes on, much less made it to the front door to greet my husband. His smile slowly faded as he rounded the corner to the living room and saw his typically vibrant wife in a terrifying mess of matted curls and smeared mascara, clutching the television remote and the last remnants of her sanity.
Yes, I’m being dramatic. But there’s truth in the drama. It wasn’t as terrible as it sounds, but it certainly felt like it in moments. I love my children. I love my husband. I love spending time with them and making our home feel like home. I love that my husband gets to go for spiritual getaways in the mountains, finding time for himself, fulfilling his created purpose and breathing life into his soul. But part of me hates it, too. I realized that part of me had grown a little resentful of him because he was becoming more him. I don’t know if that even makes sense.
You see, I don’t actually want Jonathan to stop doing what he’s doing. I don’t want him to shrivel into a shell of a man or wither away in a passionless existence. And I don’t actually want to abandon my family and my home. I just don’t want to exist in those parameters exclusively. I don’t want to become wife and mom, period. I wasn’t knit together in my mother’s womb as “Mrs. Shelton, Elias’ and Ellery’s mom.” I was created as Candi, beautiful child of God, purposefully individual. I have happened to pick up jobs, titles, hobbies, accolades, achievements, and labels along the way, but those are my carry-ons. Those are the icings.
When you get right down to it, I’m really just Candi, and here recently I have been trying to figure out where I’d buried her.
Jonathan jumped in with both feet, asking all the right questions (What’s wrong? How did it get to this? Can you tell me exactly what happened? What can I do?), but I had no capacity for anything, even the right questions. I answered none but the last question, “You can take them and let me sleep,” and shuffled off to find a nap behind closed doors.
After three hours (!) I came back downstairs with a little more clarity, a little more color added to the hallways in my brain, and I let Jonathan know that I was finally ready to converse. I told him everything that transpired in those 48 hours, all the whining and tears, the youngest-child-passing-out-and-peeing-all-over-me episode in Target, and my desperate attempt to redeem said episode during my one small joy when left alone with kids, which is wandering the aisles of Threshold brand shower curtains and woven blankets, leaving the protests of my children unanswered for 5 freaking minutes. Basically, I let him know that I was sufficiently and thoroughly DONE.
He asked one question: “What do you need?”
And I, without blinking, answered, “I need to create.”
It came quickly, but it left me blindsided. I didn’t even realize what I said cognitively, but my soul commandeered my voice for a split second and gave the answer. And it was right. I need to create. But I need to create for me, not for anyone else.
I have become so caught up and invested in my carry-ons that I have neglected to just be ME! I have become so buried underneath the extras that the core of who I am- Image-bearer, child of God, individual- has become secondary.
It’s time to create. It’s time to make time. It’s time to stop feeling guilty about creating moments that address MY needs and desires. It’s time to believe I can do things that bring me joy, and that alone makes God smile. It’s time to honor Him by honoring one of his prized creations… me.
What about you? Do you need to create? Have you become engrossed in your label/job/achievement/title so much that you’ve forgotten what makes you come alive inside? Do you feel the burden of being pastor, ministry leader, wife, husband, mom, dad, or business owner without feeling the importance of being (insert first name here) ?
If you’re like me, it’s easy to bury yourself in the icing. But at the end of the day, that very tendency can make what should be sweet taste a little bitter. Being you and doing things that make you smile, things that make your soul come alive and bring an inward rest, will ultimately make the icing that much sweeter.
So go create. Go be you. Go insert your brand of awesome into the world, even if you’re the only one who sees it or enjoys it. When you are fully you, God is fully glorified, and that’s enough motivation for me.
Candi is a singer/songwriter, author, and homeschool-teaching-mom/wife/friend/cupcake baker extraordinaire. She and her husband Jonathan are the founders of a nonprofit called Sycamore Abbey, with a mission to bring ministry leaders back to life and equip them to encourage vitality where they lead. She is a woman seeking to find the extraordinary in the everyday. Learn more at candipearsonshelton.wordpress.com, or follow her on Twitter @CandiPShelton.