Kara Nothnagel
Simple Authentic Living
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Simple. Authentic. Grace.

HOW'S YOUR HEART?

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Dearest Friend,

When sitting down to write this article, all I could think about was writing a letter to a friend. A friend who is tired, worn out and feels at the end of themselves. Or perhaps a friend who has their make-up on and is smiling brilliantly but falling apart on the inside.

Perhaps the reason I feel like writing this way is because at the end of last year, my dear friend, that was me. At the end of last year, I was finished and completely crashed. Emotionally, spiritually, physically⎯I didn’t have any more to give. I was exhausted but couldn’t sleep, emotional but didn’t want to see people, hungry for life but with no appetite for living.

When I finally realised the state I was in, I had to do the hard work of learning what had led me to that place, and more importantly, decide what I would do and what I would put in place to make sure that it didn’t happen again. And, no, I’m not talking about quick fixes to treat surface symptoms. I’m talking about deep core changes that needed to be made so that I changed from the inside out. 

I have learned so much and so I’m writing to you, with the hope that you will be blessed and encouraged with hope for your own life.

In this life, we are constantly bombarded with information and messages. What I have noticed recently is lot of the messages that we receive on social media, in self-help books, and even sometimes in church sermons are “get up, make-up, show up,” “fake it until you make it,” we are told we need to press though, keep calm and carry on. 

And, in part, I agree with that, because I know the journey of life is not easy, and we aren’t entitled to having it easy. So yes, we must push through… but… not in ignorance. Not by ignorance. We cannot ignore how we feel and call it “having faith”, because it isn’t. Having true faith means we face the facts; we face how we actually feel. But, in spite of feelings, we carry on because there is a truth that is more real than how we feel.

There was one afternoon at the beginning of the year when my son fell while jumping from couch to couch. He cried and said he didn’t want to jump anymore because now he was scared. I comforted him and said, “You’re my brave boy. You can do it.” He then replied to me, “But I wasn’t brave, because I cried.” My heart broke, and I got down on my knees so I was eye level with him, and told him this truth, 

“Being brave doesn’t mean you don’t cry. Being brave means you know it hurts, you know you’re scared, and you feel sad, but you go back and you do it anyway.” 

That’s what being brave is. Even if you feel the fear, you do it anyway.

I think so often too many of us are either full of faith and nailing it at life, or we are slumped over, worn out and stagnant because we are overcome with emotion and overwhelmed by life. However, I believe real faith means being truly in touch with who you are, how you feel, where you are hurting but then bringing those things into the light… and then making the decision not to stay there but to carry on. That’s brave. That’s true faith. That’s what it means to be truly in touch with your heart. Because, darling one, you have to stay in touch with what is going on in your internal world for it governs how you respond to the external world.

That is where my work started and has stayed. I had to acknowledge that I had lost touch with my heart and decide to find it, feel it, and fight for it again. Even if it hurt⎯which it did. But, that was ok. It was more than ok. It was worth it!

We have to know what is going on inside because: 

  • out of the heart the mouth speaks, 

  • out of the heart flows rivers of joy, 

  • as a man thinks in his heart so is he, 

  • and most importantly, God lives there. 

So, we have to know how to tend to our hearts and cultivate life there, because as we tend to our hearts so we tend to the rest of our being. Melissa Hessler said this, “Be fully in touch with your heart. Fully feel, fully understand the power of lament, grief, the full spectrum of emotion⎯without losing hope.”

If you are anything like me, you probably wear many hats⎯wife, mom, sister, friend, employee, mentor, business owner, creative. So, time is often an issue. I realised that I had to make time to assess how my heart was, and then make time for the self-care I needed so that I could wear my many hats with peace, grace and authentic enthusiasm. I had to learn to be intentional about releasing time so that I was living from a place of overflow, rather than running on empty.

I feel like this is something that is particularly challenging for Christians, because sometimes when we talk about self-care, we fear becoming selfish, conceited, or full of self-pity. But that is certainly not something I am advocating⎯in fact, that is something that I can’t stand. Context is everything. What I am talking about is maturely recognising your legitimate needs as a person with a view of being able to serve those in your sphere of influence more effectively.

I am a wife and a Mum and both of those roles are wonderful. But they require my very best, and if I am strung out, overworked, undernourished, unfit and miserable, I don’t serve my family well. True, healthy self-care is about identifying what makes you feel rested, refreshed and alive. It is about investing in the things that make you feel like you again. Some of these things for me are 

  • having coffee with a trusted friend, 

  • having a mini spa time at home followed by clean PJs and a good glass of wine, 

  • going for a run, 

  • being alone and uninterrupted, just me, God and no demands, 

  • or shopping for groceries at my favourite store.

There may be many different things for you. The most important thing is that you know what they are and you plan them in so that you don’t lose touch with your heart. Because when you lose touch with your heart, you lose touch with who you are.

So, dear friend, I’m asking… How are you? How is your heart? Do you know? 

Maybe you’re like I was and you don’t know that you’re running on empty. Can I lovingly encourage you to slow down and get in touch with your heart so that you don’t crash? Or maybe you are fully aware of how you feel but are too scared to say. Sweet friend, know that it will be ok. Stopping and getting in touch with where you are at and bringing it into the light is the very best thing you can do, both for you and for the people you are serving. 

I’m sharing this with you so that you don’t feel alone, or like you’re the only one, or worse yet that you have failed. Because you haven’t. You just need to find your heart. And as you do, you will find your life again.

Lastly, please know this… You are precious, valuable, and worth it. 

With all my love,

Kara x


ORIGINALLY WRITTEN FOR THIRTY ONE: MAGAZINE - one of my favourite places to write xx