more love, less hustle

love image

Shauna Niequist posted this beautiful word on her blog, “More love, less hustle”. I now have perfect four words to describe my disappearance from writing over the last few months. I didn’t mean to take such a long break, it was just like one post turned into one week which turned into one month and well, here we are.

I have been thinking about each of you and have  appreciated your thoughtful emails and those who have approached me at Target, in coffee shops, at the gym, and at a recent wedding. I admittedly get pretty excited when I get to talk face-to-face with women who read my blog.

Back on a dreary, fake-snow day in February, I had a moment where I was bulldozing my way though my to-do list and sat down to check another item off: write a blog post. I stared at my computer and felt empty. This emptiness wasn’t like I needed to pray or recenter my thoughts or take a nap, but empty like I’d been giving of myself for so long that I needed a complete recharge.

I saw my life as this glass pitcher where I’d been pouring and pouring until there was nothing left. I’d been holding this pitcher (my life, my time) upside down hoping a little more water would drip out. But I had nothing left. It’s useless when we push ourselves to exhaustion pretending we have more to give when in reality, we’re just a dried-up pitcher needing a sanctuary where we can be filled again.

Over Christmas, I heard Brene Brown talk about this idea that we cannot love others more than we love ourselves. This includes our families, our friends, our spouses, and our children. I didn’t buy it at first. I felt like I loved Michael and will one love our kids a whole lot more than I love myself.

But Brene used this story about a mom and her daughter to illustrate her point. A 13-year-old daughter walks in from school and complains how no one sat with her at lunch and how she has no friends. The mom responds with judgment: “Well, if you would pull your damn hair back and wear those cute clothes I bought you, then maybe you’d have more luck.” A distant past reveals that the mom was also unpopular in middle school and remembers all-too-vividly sitting alone at the lunch table. She never loved her middle-school awkward self nor had she dealt with those feelings of rejection and loneliness. Therefore, as a mother, she had a hard time loving her daughter going down the same lonely road.

Brene said what causes us to respond to those we love in judgment and without empathy is we never learn to love ourselves.

I’m now on board with the idea we can’t love others more than we love and care for ourselves.

It terrifies me a little how hard I am on myself. Whether it’s not waking up early, getting distracted at work, not blogging, skipping a workout, eating unhealthy, gaining weight, looking ‘terrible’ in a picture, or making a mistake, I can really speak harshly to myself. I seldom let myself off the hook. I also push myself to the point of exhaustion, because I compare myself to the highest achievers. (For more on this, read Things I Don’t Do)

It didn’t seem like quite an enormous issue, that is not showing myself an ounce of grace,  when I thought I could keep my high expectations and negative self-talk hidden. But to think that this lack of self-love and self-grace was spilling into my relationship with family and friends-no! I hate that thought. To think that if I can’t learn to love and accept myself for who I am, that I will struggle to love and accept my children for who they are is unbearable.

Anne Lamott talks about practicing radical self-care:

“Radical self-care is what we’ve been longing for, desperate for, our entire lives–friendship with our own hearts.”

In effort to recharge and be ready to give of myself to my family, to my friends, and to you again, I’m listening to my heart. Listening to our hearts takes patience, quiet, rest, unscheduled days, quality time with our families, reading the wisdom of others, play, time away from the internet, and maybe a vacation or just a sleepy, rainy day off work.

Y’all I cannot tell you how vital is is to learn to love and care for yourself and listen to your heart. It’s not self-centered; practicing love for yourself is a selfless act. Because how are we to gear up to shine love into the stories around us if we’re entering battle with broken armor and unhealed scars and ignored hearts? We must prepare our hearts that we can can pour out hope and uninhibited joy and merciful love into the lives of the broken.

I’m hustling less, resting more, listening to my heart, showing grace, and loving myself beyond than feels comfortable.

Will you join me? 

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4 Responses to “more love, less hustle”
  1. V says:

    Sorry, but the theory that “we can’t love others more than we love and care for ourselves” just isn’t true. I know some people who take very good care of themselves yet treat people like crap. They care a lot about themselves but not others. Also, from what I’ve seen, this theory only encourages such people to be even more selfish, and self-centered. Please don’t misunderstand, I’m in no way saying that you are being selfish for taking time for you. We all need to take good care of ourselves and our health and well being. I’m just addressing this theory which I see so many write about on their blogs.

  2. Anna Kaye says:

    Awesome post Ruthie. I definitely need to learn to love myself more. I compare myself on a daily basis to the feeling of constant successes around me. Thanks for the reminder that we all need to practice self love.

  3. Jeni says:

    Hi Ruthie – Glad to see your post! I, too, suffer from overdoing it all the time! I work full-time and front my own band and am releasing our first album this month. I have been really thoughtful lately of how important time for yourself can be!! To rejuvenate! Also, I learned about you from a good girlfriend of mine when you released your book – which I devoured when I was single – and now that I have been in a relationship for 5 months I suggested last week that we stop texting as much and start talking more – have a real conversation and truly get to know each other. I realized I was hiding behind texts too. He was happy at the suggestion and wants to get “Old School” and it has made us actually express ourselves without hiding behind a technological curtain, which has taken courage for sure and is making for a better and more authentic journey. Thank you for being so inspiring!!!

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