Erica put Lizzie down for her nap, careful not to wake her. Lately, it seemed like Lizzie wouldn’t sleep unless she were being held. Sneaking out of the room and pulling the door almost closed, Erica waited a few steps away. So far, so good.
“I’ll throw a load of laundry in,” Erica sighed. “Maybe I can get at least one load washed and in the dryer, before she wakes up.” But all Erica really wanted was to nap herself.
Jake would be home in a couple of hours.
She knew the building mess around the house added to the tension in their relationship.
Glancing at the hall mirror as she hurried toward the laundry, she hated what she saw.
Discouraged. Exhausted. Frustrated.
Why would Jake want to be around her when she couldn’t stand who she’d become?
Feeling alone in her life, all Erica wanted was to feel heard, valued, and cherished.
Erica sneered as she thought about the verse she’d read in the Bible this morning:
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.
“Ha! Freedom! What does that even mean?” she grumbled. “I barely have time to think, let alone do what I want or love. Freedom? That’s a laugh.”
Immediately, she felt ashamed. Erica loved Lizzie. She’d always wanted to stay home after they had kids. Jake knew this dream and worked longer hours so Erica could feel free to stay home. How did this feel so negative then? Why did this decision create more tension between them?
Quietly gathering dirty laundry scattered in the hallway, Erica swiped at the tears leaking out. She didn’t have time to cry. She tossed the load in the washer, added the detergent, and quietly shut the door. Lizzie seemed to wake at the slightest noise.
“What I wouldn’t give for a few minutes to just be me,” Erica sighed.
“Not Mom or Jake’s wife, just Erica. If I even knew who she was.”
Erica grabbed her water bottle, walked to the family room, and eased into her favorite chair. She rested her head on the back of the chair, closed her eyes, and let the quiet surround her.
Free to be.
“What does that mean? What could that mean? Who am I?” Erica mused. “Is it possible to be me ever again? What would Jake think?”
Free to be.
As this thought repeated, Erica sensed a stirring, almost an invitation to something more.
More than piles of laundry, dirty dishes, a fussy baby, and discontentment.
Could she find the freedom to be when her life felt ordinary, disappointing, and uneasy?
What about the tension with Jake?
How could she feel free to be when they struggled with simple conversations? She hated this tension between them but didn’t know how to resolve it. Jake didn’t seem to want to talk with her about his struggles. He said they were over, and she needed to let it go. But she couldn’t.
Free to be.
The spinning washer caught her attention. “Did I turn off the buzzer?” Erica hurried to the laundry area and closed the doors, waiting for the last minute or so to stop it before the buzzer went off.
With a slight smile, Erica moved the clothes to the dryer, set the time, ensured the buzzer was off, and closed the doors.
Back at her favorite chair, she picked up her dusty journal and found her pen down alongside the cushion. On a new page, she wrote Free to Be.
Tapping her pen against her jaw, she began jotting down some ideas.
What does free to be mean?
Is it possible to be free when I’m struggling?
I’m a mom and a wife. I have responsibilities. I can’t just do what I want. Can I?
What does it look like to live free?
Why do I resent my life right now?
How can Jake and I rebuild our relationship?
Just because we are struggling, does that mean we won’t make it?
Should I talk with someone?
She hesitated . . . .
What if Jake finds this journal?
Does Jake feel trapped too? (I never thought about that before)
Why doesn’t Jake want to talk about anything with me?
Erica heard Lizzie fuss. Surprisingly, she’d slept an hour. Though Erica didn’t have the answers to all her questions, she felt better because she’d written them out. Putting the pen and journal on a high bookshelf, Erica checked the dryer on her way to Lizzie’s room.
“After Lizzie goes to sleep tonight, I’ll call Gail. Maybe she’d be willing to come here some afternoon to talk. Gail seems content with her life and free to be herself around others. She might have some ideas for me.”
Without understanding what she’d done, Erica’s deliberate journaling and decision to reach out to Gail created space in her mind and heart to work on this concept of free to be.
What does free to be mean to you?
If you, like Erica, need help processing that concept, please reach out. I promise to listen to your heart and concerns.