Sunday, April 16, 2017

Setting the table upright again (conclusion)

After a long and difficult season, Grace bends over and helps me pick up my overturned table and offers me a seat.  Grace knows me so well and sits down with me as a trusted friend.  It might be Easter, but it still feels a little like Good Friday in my soul.  Hard, scary, frustrating, angry, messy, worry, and confusion.  

I set my many bags and burdens down and try to remember the last time I was able to just stop and be still.  It's a luxury I rarely enjoy, and it's usually interrupted by a small person needing some assistance.  I'm trying my best to smile and be present, but there's a million mile to-do list that is going to need some attention sooner than later.  I work hard to keep all the irons in the fire, and I have learned that putting them off only creates a bigger list.

I'm also slightly afraid of the quiet.  Stillness invites anxiety, and I try to avoid being alone in my thoughts for too long because they tend to lie and remind me of all the ways I'm letting the world down these days (and all the times I've let it down in the past).  And when they tire of same old, same old worries, they are creative and discover new ways to torment me.

But Grace allows me to be hollow and empty and exhausted by my troubles because it takes me as I am.  It doesn't rank me on the ways I'm measuring up and falling short because it knows me better than I know myself.  Grace covers my hand with its own and lets me feel the expanse of all the emotions, rather than shaming me for all the ways I could have made it better.  And when I'm done spilling out, it gently reassures me that all will be well eventually.

Grace knows all the times I've failed and sinned and does not hold it against me.  I am deeply forgiven and loved and made new again by this gift of Grace.  Grace also knows that as much as I want to breathe it in, I have a difficult time sharing my table with those who have deeply wounded me and let me down.  I want to put those people at the kids' table of Justice and leave them there until they feel the sting of my hurt.  But Grace reminds me over and over again that there is room at the Table for everyone, including me and those people, too.

Grace wipes my tears and helps me to stand up again.  Grace offers to keep my extra bags and burdens and promises that even though I've become accustomed to carrying them with me at all times, I don't (and won't) need them every single day.  It's time to press forward and continue on the journey, knowing that Grace always keeps the door open.

And as I walk out the door, Grace reminds me that He will be with me until the very end.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Too tired to flip tables (part III)

I think, on most days, I do a pretty good job of holding it together.  I get my kids to school and I go to work, I make sure we have clean clothes and we eat every single day.  Our bills get paid, we serve at church.  I exercise regularly and my big girls each have an extra-curricular activity one night a week. My husband is awesome, and we are a good team.

When life operates at a normal pace, I can hold things together fairly well.  We are busy, but we can manage to function.  But when an extra thing is added to the mix--a performance, something for the girls, a project, etc--I feel my eyes start twitching and I start dreaming of days in which I can just sit down in silence and not make decisions.  I plow through the requirements and turn myself inside out in order to just make it through.

And I know I'm not alone.  After my last two posts, so many people came and told me that they, too, feel the pressure of dealing with the day in and day out of life.  It's a unspoken problem so many of us are facing--and it's almost like we're too embarrassed to talk about it out loud.  After all, so many people have kids in the hospital and cancer and losing their homes, and we're whining about feeling overwhelmed, right?  Let me say this--at some point, everyone deals with a major life crisis like death, cancer, and/or a loss.  And everyone deals with the day in, and day out worries.  A traumatic event is immediately crippling, but we cannot forget the day in, day out stresses will completely wear you down if left unchecked.  

Which is what I've done to myself, and I feel like many of you are tap dancing right beside me.  

I have come to recognize the days following a large performance as a battleground.  When the curtain closes, my brain stops thinking about the many items I must take care of for the event and it has all this free space to create new worries.  I usually wake up the next morning and one of my internal shaming sentences will pop in my head almost immediately.

Remember that time you (insert terrible and/or embarrassing sin, moment, life decision)?  If people only knew those moments in your life, they would see the terrible person you actually are and no one would like the real you. 

And because evil knows how to kick us when we're down--when we're already too exhausted to deal with basic life requirements, and when it knows the words will hurt us the most--we can be inclined to believe the lies he wants us to hear.  

It was almost like clockwork yesterday morning--I opened my eyes, thought about a cup of coffee, and a shame sentence popped into my head.  I almost said out loud, "Are you kidding me?  It's not even 8am and you're already starting in on me???" but then I remembered my husband was still asleep and would probably wonder who I was fussing with.   I went into the bathroom and as I was drying my hands I decided that I was going to combat these feelings with the Word.  I was not going to allow myself to sink into that hole and I was going to remember that I am redeemed and loved.  

I read and tried to believe the words.  I require a daily reminder that Grace is there for all of us, even me.  I believe it so readily for the people around me, but I tend to foolishly believe that I don't need it as much as everyone else because I'm a hardworking and decent person who does her best to follow the rules.  But if anyone else looked at my life, they would see I'm just as guilty as the next person and I've got a million mile list of faults and moments I'd rather erase.  

I'm exhausted and tired.  My brain, body, and heart hurt these days.  I don't have it all together, and I'm doing my best to sit at the Table and just be.  I cried with the tears of the broken last week in church when we sang about laying down our burdens and shame.         

There's hope for the hopeless, and all those who've strayed
Come sit at the table, come taste the grace
There's rest for the weary, rest that endures
Earth has no sorrow that heaven can't cure
--Crowder

to be continued. . .

Sunday, March 19, 2017

FTA (Flippin' Tables Angry) Part II

After reading through the comments and the messages from you all from yesterday's post, I was encouraged and heartbroken at the same time.  I'm thankful that so many of you are standing in solidarity with me and all the other working parents out there, and I'm also discouraged that we are enduring this insanity all at the same time.  

But, strength in numbers, friends.  
We are better together. 

After a full day of classes and the Lord providing me with the energy needed to deal with all of my students, I shared my situation with a handful of people.  When you live and work and minister in a small town, you learn to keep your mouth closed and your social media accounts quiet.  They understood me and my feelings which made me feel better.  Sometimes you need those people in your life to tell you that your words are heard and that your feelings are valid--especially when you feel like you're teetering on the edge of crazy.  The situation was "resolved" and there is nothing more I can do about it at this time. 

My brain has been exhausted from all the schedules and stuff and important things to remember.  I commented to my husband that this school year, for whatever reason, has felt impossibly hard to keep up with as opposed to years' past.  I feel like I'm surviving by the skin of my teeth, but all the folks I read about tell me I'm supposed to be thriving.  I want to know who these people are--and are they regular like me?  Are they working a regular job and taking care of their family and doing it all by themselves and/or with a spouse?  Or do they have a job with flexible hours and a maid and a nanny?  Are they staying up all hours of the night?  Do they plug themselves in at the end of the day or do they chug energy drinks?

What part of this equation am I missing--because I'm all about systems and efficiency and doing everything with excellence and somehow, somewhere I seem to be missing it?

In December I responded to a question posed by author Jon Acuff (Do Over, Quitter) about making 2017 your year to accomplish your dreams and the art of the hustle.  I told him a little about my life and how I was following all of the suggestions--getting up an hour earlier, exercising, sleeping, tracking how my time is spent each day, etc. and still not able to reach that hustle he kept referring to and he responded:

There is a season for everything in life, and it sounds like this may not be your season to hustle. It may be time to say "no" to some things. And it's definitely time to give yourself some grace. I hope this helps!   

Now, let me be clear, I love me some Jon Acuff.  I think he's hilarious and I really liked his advice, but I wanted to laugh and cry a little when he told me to say "no" to some things:  What exactly do you want me to say "no" to, Jon?  My kids?  My husband?  My job?  Church?  Camp?  Laundry?  Feeding my hungry people again?  

I'm not talking about cutting out things like girls' nights and other fun things people have time to do--I'm talking about the daily in and out consuming my life.  I'm talking about how I'm running around like a crazy person trying to meet my daily requirements and dream of days I have nothing to do and no one talking to me so I can breathe normally again.  I'm talking about not running on full throttle all day, every day.   

I also know all about giving yourself some grace, and I admit freely that it's not something I'm good at.  In my head, there's a fine line between giving yourself some grace and being lazy.  I'm also aware that there are folks who would love to find themselves in my position.  I fully recognize my life is a blessed one, and I'm incredibly thankful for so many things.  I also don't have to look very far to see there are others who are dealing with heavy burdens that make mine look like rainbows and sunshine.  

So please do not misunderstand this post as a "feel sorry for me"--this is being sent out in hopes others are feeling this way, too.  That perhaps we are all feeling this level of crazy concerning daily life, and maybe we can agree that enough is enough and we need to decide how to handle this together.  

to be continued. . .

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