Last January, I came home from seeing our families for the holidays to a big change: I came back to a life in which I didn’t have a job. I came back exhausted, grieving that “former life.” And I came back with a question–after seven years in which my focus was often on others, my soul asked:

“What does it look like to take care of and value myself, without becoming self-absorbed?”

As women and as a society, we tend to gravitate toward extremes. Not only that, but we do “extreme” really well, and I think we have a hard time finding the middle ground. According to our perceptions, we are either succeeding or failing (often considering “average” to be failure).  And in our actions, we are either eating too much or starving ourselves, working out too much or not at all, ignoring our appearance or thinking about it way too much, others-focused or inward focused, etc. Very few of us are able to find the healthy balance for eating, work and play, or determining our self worth. Those of us who do, often struggle to keep it.

For me, my greatest struggle to find balance lies in valuing myself. It is a struggle I think many women have. For longer than just this past year, I have wondered what does the middle ground look like between door mat and prima donna?–Only thinking about others, and only thinking about ones self? For most of my life, I have erred on the “others-focused” end of the spectrum, at times wearing myself out to the point of sickness. I have believed anything else would be selfish. I have believed I wasn’t worth taking care of. And when asked, by people who care about me, why this is, I haven’t had an answer.

The middle ground of healthiness that I have experienced, the one that lies between only thinking about others and only thinking about ones self, is a very thin, fine line. “Don’t get too close, or you will become a diva!” Yet I am beginning to realize that the healthy middle ground in my life, has been a very fine line not because it has to be, but because I am so afraid of one extreme, that I have sacrificed myself to the other.

Like I shared on Monday, I have based so much of my life on what other people think of me. I have used others as my starting point for how I focus my life, rather than starting from a healthy, balanced view of myself and who I am called to be in this world. I need to create space for the healthy middle ground so it is a place that I can live out of, a place I can dwell.

While I still am without a job, and I am in this time of waiting, I am beginning to see that part of my current heart-work is creating this healthy middle space. I don’t exactly have a “how-to” set of instructions, but I am blessed to have this time to figure it out with God’s help.

How about you? Do you live out of a healthy middle ground?