The drive between work and home is a long one. Not like an “I live in St. Pete and work in Tampa” long. But still hefty when you count in traffic on two of only three main roads in Pensacola. What we lack in high rises, we make up for in widespread commerce. It’s said that it takes approximately 1 ½ hrs to get from one side of Pensacola to the other. And yet, our specified “downtown” stretches only a few short miles and centers around the one and only Palafox Street. A hub of small time restaurants and art galleries. And the location of the best day of my life, my wedding!

I mention a few elements of my town, to really bring into focus the smallness of our community, amongst the large land-mass that in this post, equals driving distance to keep community strong. And in many ways, the distance hinders community. You may have a very close friend from church, who actually lives 45 min from you and in this day and age, with schedules as tight as they are, that makes quality friendship time very difficult to prioritize.

Then again, working for a church, a LOT of community happens within its’ walls and that long drive home is the perfect solace for an Ambivert, such as myself. To listen to the podcast that I always plan to play in my ears at work and never do, to hear the second round of news for the day on K-love, and/or to sit in silence when you find so little of it anymore. It’s all good. And for the time it takes to drive from work to home, I get to choose.

So where’s the tension?

The tension is that space can lead to solitude, and eventually loneliness. But connectivity can also thwart needed peace by clogging the mind with “noise.”

So what do we do to find balance? Or what I would call, The Commute?

I choose both. I choose “me” AND “we.”

I choose to embrace the activity of fellowship and to thrive in The Commute. To say yes to 30 more minutes with friends and no to a distraction during my “me time.” I’m getting better at this as I practice too.

When going through Part 1 of The Propel Conversation Series by Christine Cain’s peops, those attending were asked to letter-grade themselves based on their self-care prioritization. Mine, at the time, was D-. Soon after completing that course, and the book Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, I up’d my grade to C.

Now, after much letting go of an unnecessary amount of guilt about putting myself first ever… I’d say I’m a B- on my worst days but maybe even a B on my best. Now, do I have times that I slip back down to D or even a rare moment where I give myself an A+ for self-care… certainly. Because this is real life and we’re living it! But if I can consistently grade my self-care a B, I’m feeling accomplished and guess what… a WHOLE LOT BETTER about my daily life and function.

A few Confessions…

1. I need a lot of sleep.

Whew, I said it. I’m always so embarrassed to admit that! So much of our society is made up of burning the candle at both ends to accomplish, that I have often felt inept or even like I was losing hope about a goal, because living on lack of sleep wasn’t my strength. Freedom has come in that department and I actually prioritize sleep now. I’m not a napper either (I feel like an alien when I wake up from a nap so that’s a no go unless its a necessity) so I have to choose to sleep in ahead of time, when I can. I actually schedule it before scheduling other important items. I need the best me to do those things anyway so I’m hurting myself and the needed to be accomplished tasks if I don’t. With sleep, I choose “me.”

2. I have to be inspired to focus on my writing.

I LOVE to write blog posts. And I am currently working on my first book. That said, I have found that if I try too hard to write, I simply can’t. I must fill up with inspiration before I can express myself the way I am called to. Because of this, my planner has specified times to fill up on inspiration. That may be other blog posts, a book I’m reading, a conversation with my hubby about something that’s rolling around in my head, a movie even… possibly, what I call a non-thinking tv show. That’s the crazy confession part. Some of the biggest inspirations I receive for projects I’m working on, come when I’ve actually turned off my brain to watch or read some trivial non-sense by myself. Then, like fire, the flame lights and I’m ready to pull out that lap top and GO! Seems silly but it’s true! I watch no-brainer TV for “me.”

3. I find it awkward to ask girlfriends out on a “friend-date.”

Again…whew. There it is.

I mean, come on! Tell me it isn’t awkward to be like, “Hey, so I know you have a whole life that you spend with your family and a few other friends who live closer… and work… and church activities… and kid stuff… and and and… but could you give me like two hours of your time, at least, so that I can vent my frustrations and enjoy good conversation with lots of laughter… it’ll be fun for you too, I promise!!!”

Yep, that’s awkward. Feels super needy. And doesn’t fit in with our society’s image of an independent woman, who don’t need no… friends?

So yeah, I’m confessing but the truth is, blog communities and work relationships are not enough to keep the lonely blues away. Papa God made us for community and part of that is found in a very vulnerable and authentic place, a place of admitted need. A need that we pray, ends up mutual. Ha! When it comes to coffee dates with friends, I choose “we.”

So let’s think through The Commute…

-My best time to think… or decompress, is during The Commute home after work. What is yours?

-What are some ways you and I can choose to find a balance in the tension of embracing both community AND self-care?

-Are there a few things you can journal about as confessions like I have here? Things that once said, can feel okay about your personality and personal needs?

The entire goal of this post is to be real in the struggle and to share my recent growth in finding The Commute between “me” and “we.” I’m definitely not a regular A+ self-care woman yet (and I may never be like others are) but I am okay with that for now because it means so much to me to care about the community Jesus has given. I see the neglect on both sides of the commute as valuable and want to be wise with my time on either side. That’s why growth continues and why this post really never ends…

Someone mentioned to me recently that they’ve missed my writings. It cracked me up on the inside, in a very vulnerable place of my heart, that people have MISSED MY WRITING? I think I held my face in check though. I mean, people really read this stuff? That means so much!! It means that what I’m going through, I’m not alone in. Amen. That’s also community. And so in that, I’m choosing “we.” I’ve decided to write more publicly again. Not just in my private journal. Because you’ve asked and because The Commute is a space between two very important parts of the life God has given me and I want to meet you all in the middle. Amen.

BeLoved,

Lauren

PS Please comment and share what The Commute looks like for you right now! Is it one of growth or are you stuck in the rut of is it “me” OR “we”???