Guilt-Free Underwear

If I could have been born into a different family, I think I would have fit in well with a large Jewish clan. The mothers, I’m told, are masters at laying on the guilt. And I, sweet friends, am a sponge.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve never been able to put myself first without repercussions of serious guilt. If there was a last cookie on a plate, I couldn’t eat it without feeling it should be someone else’s. If there was extra money available to buy something I desperately needed, I still couldn’t buy it without guilt. If there was a work trip that took me away for more than twenty-four hours—even though my job was providing for all of our needs—I’d feel terrible for leaving my kids.

As a mom, guilt followed me like a shadow, ready to taunt me at a moment’s notice if my thoughts moved even one centimeter off of others and onto myself. When I became a single mom, that guilt somehow (as if it was even possible) magnified. And no matter how often I heard it, or how many voices in my life suggested it, I couldn’t seem to put even the tiniest focus on myself.

On the selfish act of taking care of me.

Until one day, I went to pack for a work trip and realized that I didn’t own a single pair of underwear that didn’t have holes in them. And, I don’t mean tiny ones from initial signs that I needed new ones. No. I mean, big, gaping, embarrassing holes that made them so ratty, they might have looked like lace from a distance. Ok, they didn’t. But remembering it that way makes me feel better.

And it was that drawer full—and I mean full—of expired underwear, that made me realize the truth: though my family never had to worry about running out of toilet paper, milk, deodorant, clean socks, or bread, I was living as if I didn’t deserve to have my basic needs met. As if taking care of me somehow took something away from someone I loved.

The real kicker? I realized the number of times I’d literally walked past the underwear aisle in my local Wal-Mart (hint: did you know that they sell it for just a few dollars?), perusing the aisles three to five times a week while locating items that the rest of my family needed—and didn’t take care of my own needs.

“Don’t you realize that all of you together are the temple of God and that the Spirit of God lives in you?” 1 Corinthians 3:16

I closed that drawer, determined that I had to start taking better care of myself. One look down the hallway would show three children who were continuing to grow, who would someday leave my home. When they did so, I didn’t want to be a deflated balloon that they had spent 18 years sucking the life out of. Because leaving behind a shell of the mother they once had, would only cause me to fill that empty space with mourning for what I’d just lost.

But, if instead, I began to fill myself up by taking better care of myself, becoming healthy both on the inside and the out, and even spoiling myself from time to time, I would still mourn the loss, but would have so much more to offer them as we each went into the next season of our lives. I would be so full of other things I’d allowed into my life, that the passing of that season wouldn’t consume me.

Sweet girls, don’t buy into the lie. We are called to take care of ourselves so that we can set out to do the work God has for us. We honor those we love when we respect ourselves enough to take care of our own needs (and sometimes wants).

So you know where I started?

With new underwear.

And you know what? It was the most fun-filled shopping trip I’ve ever had. Hands down. Because not only did I get rid of that drawer of undies-past-their-prime, but I got rid of the guilt. I refused to accept it anymore. And decided from that day forward that it was ok to take care of myself, to remember the things I once enjoyed, and even to make a plan that went beyond mothering my children.

And the undies? Some even had lace on them, people. Actual. Lace.

 

Stop by Proverbs 31 Ministries, Suzie Eller’s, blog this Live Free Thursday to discover more stories about living guilt free. <3

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16 Comments

  1. How could I resist reading your post with that attention-getting title? I know exactly where you’re coming from! I do the same thing, and aren’t we silly not to trust God more than we do?

  2. Laura, you’d better believe your title pulled me in, and I love this post BECAUSE I HAVE HOLES IN MY UNDERWEAR for the same reasons you describe. Hee hee. Really. And I’m going to buy myself some this very weekend. And I’m going to make that doctor’s appointment for a check up. I keep meaning to go myself, but I’ve had to take family members to the doctor and even to the hospital, so I end up last on the list. Thanks for making me smile today. Glad to see you at #LiveFree

  3. Love it!! Love how real you are, it’s like a girlfriend sitting across the table! And yes, I too have holes in my underwear for the same reason, but who admits that?! I do! Without feeling guilty anymore! 🙂 thanks, sweet friend!

  4. This is the BEST! I forced myself to purchase new knickers just recently for the very same reason. It’s so hard for mamas to treat themselves, isn’t it? But when you’re depriving yourself, it brings a whole new level of ridiculousness to the table. Praying for you as you continue to allow God to speak worth into your life… yep, even when all you need is to know that you are worthy of hole-free undies! You are amazing, Laura, keep on keeping on!

  5. Laura- you made me smile! My underwear drawer is full of good underwear…it doesn’t mean I don’t suffer from the exact same thing you are talking about…I do! It just means underwear are the least expensive thing on my list and I typically pick up 5 pair while shopping with my daughter who have 5 pair of shoes, jeans, socks, underwear…you get the point! I did realize that my sweet husband is actually the one with holes right now and I need to slip out and buy that hard working man some suitable briefs! Love that you made me smile while talking about a truly difficult balancing act topic! Happy Thursday girl!

  6. I have been known to put something in a cart and push the cart all over the store, only to put it back at the last minute. Lots of women will resonate. Mine was tied to budget but perhaps also with a lack of understanding how something small could be a sweet boost of encouragement for a busy mom. ♥️♥️

  7. Reality set in for me when my young daughter wrote an essay about me and most of it was about how I wore my Keds tennis shoes until they about fell off my feet! I was heartbroken that her paper wasn’t full of all the self-sacrificing, thoughtful, fun things I had done! Laura, this post is wonderful and so important for women! My children are grown now and I want you to know that “filling yourself up and taking care of yourself” is great advice and what I believe God has planned for us all along! Thank you for sharing your gift and wisdom with me! #livefreeThursday

  8. Aww, that could be said of a lot of us, Cindy. But, what a great reminder that they notice how well we take care of ourselves even more than how well we take care of them. Thanks for stopping by. <3

  9. Hey sweet Laura. Love this and how true it is! It is so true that single parents tend to feel even more guilty and fill holes we really just can’t fill. My daughter has told before that when she was a teenager I would fall asleep on the couch in my gown and how embrassing when her girlfriends would see my holey underwear. I finally told her I only got new underwear as a Christmas present from my Mom back then – LOL! You are so right that we have to have a balance and take care of our self – it is probably one of the best gifts we can give our family. Sure miss seeing you. I hope life is treating you well!

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