Shalom. It was a word that in our college days we thought was odd and a bit funny and so when it came up so often that semester of college during chapel, we snapped. It was an immature inside joke that said, hey that word is funny and we don’t know what to do with it except for turn it into performance art.

But we’re all longing for shalom, all longing for wholeness. We’re longing for something that moves us through decades of mundane and sees the gift — the offering — in the day-on-day, life-on-life moments. For celebration of just showing up, for celebrating wholeness, for little glimpses when we see how family breaks our hearts wide open.

Imagine with me: what if I could take in the same breath about poetry, and my Ph.D., and my grocery shopping and that I’m actually kind of interested in buying a pair of Birkenstocks (again)? What if I could talk baby sleep, vaccines, nutrition and my total lack of Pinterest-worthy parties? What if I could also talk about how an hour to myself to get some creative work done makes me happier, without fear of judgment? What if I could hold all these things in tension, without having to change my speech and my mannerisms to fit a certain segment of the population?

That’s what shalom looks like for me as a #wholemama. Really, it is a bit of an inside joke — a glorious secret that we don’t have to conform to a particular role or age and stage. That we can breathe, and take up space, and be fully ourselves.

Shalom means I can breathe. It means that I don’t twist and contort myself into little takeout boxes — into quantifiable commodities that fit labels like: “woman,” “academic,” “mother,” “pastor’s wife.” It means I can be silly, serious, profound or confused. And all of these at the same time.

#WholeMama started as a summer linkup, but it’s already beginning to flood out into a movement. Because we all need something to help us remember we are whole people — body, soul, mind, will, emotions and we live and move and have our being in our present but are intimately linked to the past and future.

We desperately need shalom — not for the inside joke about unfamiliar Hebrew words, no. We need shalom and we need #wholemama because we need people to come alongside of us and affirm that we are whole. So let me say it to you if you need to hear it:

You are seen.

You are valuable.

You can be silly and rock out to pop music.

You can eat cookies for dinner and get lost in a book.

You can reclaim your creativity from the fear of messing up, or of needing to be perfect.

You can write, or draw, or take pictures, or put together outfits. You are made in the image of a creative, creator God. So let’s go and do something.

For me, tonight shalom looked like breaking the bedtime rules and enjoying a movie with our older boys. It meant celebrating friends who have leant in towards us (instead of backing away in a posture of self-preservation) even though they knew we were moving months ago. It means taking a moment to catch up with #WholeMamas on Twitter and reading the words of friends like Osheta Moore and Esther Emery. It means all of it.

Shalom. May we breathe it in and out and release ourselves from our boxes and spill out — offerings to our little people (if we’re moms), and to the world around us.

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