How many times have you found yourself uttering those words? I must admit, even though I have been blessed greatly, there are days I feel like I life I have no life. My husband and I weren’t able to have children so we haven’t ever had the camaraderie that exists between couples who attend their kid’s events, etc. We’ve had friends who have children but over time it ended up that we were always the ones making concessions on what to do, or where to do it since it was easier for us to pick up and go somewhere than it was for others to pack up the kids and then be constantly watching the time so the kids weren’t out too late. You would think as we got older some of this would subside but it really didn’t because it wasn’t long before our friends started having grandkids. Once that happens, all bets are off. Then there are the friends who seem to constantly be on the run with activities or dealing with the drama in the lives of those around them. Whatever the circumstances, I look around me and think, “I have no life.”
It’s hard when you spend your life always trying to cater to the people around you. Even if you do it by choice out of sincere love for them, there are days when it can wear on you. For me, I have this thing about not being a burden to others or infringing on their time and such. I want the people around me to enjoy life to the fullest and, as a result, don’t want to interrupt their busy days or keep them from doing something else they have planned. Of course, then I sit at home by myself and start feeling sad because it seems more and more that I don’t fit into their schedules…even though they would normally welcome the “interruption” and be glad to connect. It may sound like I’m whining, but hang with me for a few more minutes.
When you look at other people and it seems they are living life to the fullest, it can be difficult to realize that it also feels as though you are not important enough for them to make time for you. Whether it is the truth or not doesn’t really matter because perception can be a powerful thing in our lives. Is it really that they don’t have time for us or is it simply that we keep trying so hard to not be demanding or selfish that we fall over ourselves in order to feel totally alone? It seems so counterproductive! So what is it that makes us look at others and think they don’t care enough about us to initiate conversations or activities? These are the times we need to stop and look within. I’m not saying there aren’t people who will take advantage of you or take everything you are willing to give them without ever giving it a second thought, but more often than not, the problem rests within us and not with them.
For most women, we are taught that we should not get angry or upset. We are taught to be agreeable and always put others first. We are also taught this as Christians. (“Prefer one another.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.”) Everywhere we look we seem to get the message that wanting or needing something for ourselves is selfish. We are taught that standing up for what is right for us is selfish. We are taught that our needs are less important than the needs of others. This thinking is hammered into our brains over and over in life and then we wonder why we feel so drained. We find ourselves feeling unimportant or even used by the people in our lives. The truth is that our wants and needs are important too! It doesn’t make you a bad person if you choose to pursue the things in life that make you happy. It doesn’t make you a terrible Christian if you say “no”sometimes to people or activities that deplete your energy. It doesn’t make you selfish to stand up for yourself and be who you are created to be, which includes respecting your own needs and desires! It doesn’t mean you are the center of the universe, but it does mean that in order for you to be the best you can be, you have to learn to feed yourself.
“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” We’ve all heard that quote but look at it from this perspective: If you constantly rely on someone else to make you feel loved, then you will feel loved only for a short while. If you learn to love yourself and be kind and gentle with yourself first, then you will feel loved for a lifetime. We need to stop looking to the world around us to make us feel like we “have a life.” We need to simply step up to the plate and CREATE the life we desire.
If that means burning the old tapes repeatedly playing in our heads that tell us we are selfish for taking care of ourselves, then strike a match and let’s watch them burn!