How Sunshine and Movement Bring Me Back to Myself

GrassPhoto by NJ..

I’m not sure when it started yesterday morning. Maybe it was because it was the eleventy-fifth day in a row that started with whining (theirs, not mine) as soon as I saw my kids’ faces, still puffy with sleep. Maybe it was sleep deprivation (mine, not theirs), and maybe I just woke up on the wrong side of the bed.

Whatever the reason, after my morning writing time was over I felt like I was on a rampage.

Every thought was bitter. Every word was mean. Instead of choosing neutral, I nearly always added a sprinkling of blame or shame to my interactions with the kids. I even got mad at the baby for not coming over to get his shoes on. You know you’ve lost it when you start raising your voice with a one-year-old, and then it’s confirmed when you feel like you’ll boil over after he gives you his biggest, most mischievous grin. Mama’s not smiling, Benjamin. (Yeah, no kidding.)

Mostly for my kids’ sake, I’m glad they had school/time with Grandma yesterday morning, so they’d be protected from me for awhile.


Medicine: Sunshine and Movement

After I got back home, I knew I needed — my very soul begged me — to mow the lawn.

I took out a little aggression on the lawn mower after it wouldn’t start right away, but soon started breathing more evenly to the steady rhythm of its motor. The work is both quiet and blaringly loud — so loud it drowns out everything else but my thoughts.

I didn’t waste time feeling guilty about the morning. It was done, I  was wrong, end of story. Instead, I breathed in the earthy smells of torn grass and gasoline, I felt the sun’s warmth and cloud’s coolness as they played hide-and-seek in the sky. I moved my legs, step, step, step, as I muscled the mower around. I felt my mind clearing, my heart letting go of the morning’s bad mood.

It was meditation in motion. And I need meditation, it turns out. The sun and exercise help me get there faster.

About halfway through the task, just as I was mowing the edge under the big cedar tree out back, I realized my sense of self is so intertwined with shame that I don’t allow myself to be vulnerable very much, not in real life, because I don’t feel worthy of love. I went back and mowed a strip of grass I missed and my heart sank with the thought that even when I have real, deep love in my life (and I do!), I don’t believe it. Not really. As I made more neat rows across the back yard, I thought about how that affects every relationship I have. And I knew why I revert to shame and blame when my mood gets away from me: It comes naturally because I both shame myself constantly, and fear being shamed by others. That which I most fear, I use to attack others. To attack my own children.

And all I’d wanted to do was mow the lawn.

For me, connecting with the earth, the sun, the dirt, and moving this vessel God gave me in a way He intended (as in, I have muscles, I’m supposed to use them), clears my mind, humbles me and brings me back to myself — even when that self is ugly and imperfect and full of brokenness.

So how do I feel worthy, and how do I get more vulnerable, and how do I stop my base impulse of shaming? I don’t know. I have an inkling it has to do with Jesus and meditating on what He says about me. That if I hear it enough times, maybe I’ll start believing. But realizing the condition of my heart is the first step on that journey, so I finished the mowing with tired arms and a grateful heart. Grateful that God is so in love with me that he wants me to break out of the prison of my own making.

How do you connect with your self? Is shame a big part of your life, too, or can you let it go more easily?


Linking with Heather and Emily.


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11 comments on “How Sunshine and Movement Bring Me Back to Myself

  1. brian miller says:

    as much as i complain about mowing it is always a meditation for me…the movement…the ever decreasing circles…and just the time to think as i do a mundane task…a little sun doesnt hurt either…smiles…finally got sun today!

  2. I so appreciate the way you are honest about your failures and insecurities. It gives me a way in which to confront my own. I love your lawn-mowing meditation. Thank you.

  3. What a thoughtful and heartfelt post. I just stumbled on your blog but I wanted to say how much I relate. I struggled for a very long time with this and still have my moments. It is hard when we feel shame or feel that we don’t deserve love. And I think that meditating on God’s love is the key. I went through a time where I had a Bible promise book and a list of scriptures that talked about God’s love for me. Every single day I would read the scriptures and then force myself to just sit there quietly thinking about it. Thinking about how much God loves me. I think we have to let this sink in. Soak it up like a sponge. It doesn’t happen overnight. But if you apply it like medicine daily it will slowly become a part of you. And you will realize that you are His Beloved. You are LOVED. And that those feelings of shamefulness are not coming from Him. What a blessing you were for me to find today!!

    • Thank you Holly! I think you’re so right. It takes time and i can’t expect it to happen overnight. I have to be OK with sitting uncomfortably in the truth for a while before I can expect myself to believe it. You’re so right that those emotions don’t come from Him at all — and that does motivate me to consider their source and then, to fight it with everything i have.

  4. i have an inkling it has to do with Jesus too 🙂 i also have an inkling that you are a wonderful mother, and the reason i know this is because your baby was still smiling at you. i always love coming here and finding such honest and beautiful reflections friend. bless you.

  5. stacey says:

    This post hit home for me, Kim. Thank you for being real and for sharing.

    I think you would appreciate this talk about vulnerability by Brene Brown:

    • Stacey, I’ve been hearing about that talk for EVER and finally watched it on Monday this week. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. However! Did you also watch this talk of hers, just released a couple of months ago? I think it’s even better:

      She is talking right to me.

      • stacey says:

        I hadn’t watched it but just did! It was great, thank you.

      • stacey says:

        PS…This is kindof off subject, but have you read the book “7” by Jen Hatmaker? I’m just finishing it and it has changed me. I think you’d appreciate it. I’ve heard her previous book, Interrupted, is equally jarring so after I let this one settle a bit I’m of to read that. Just thought I’d share 🙂

  6. I, too, love to mow the lawn. Any excuse to be outdoors makes me feel closer to God.