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. . .

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Flippin' tables angry (part I).

I don't know how else to say it, but this week was rough

I'm preparing for a big performance at work, and I'm feeling the crunch of deadlines and paperwork and stuff to get ready for the big night.  It's been a rough work season and a rough school year for a few reasons.  Sometimes children and grownups are all fine, and sometimes they are cranky, too.  In the midst of all of that, I'm teaching and singing and working with my students and sprinkling in some extra meetings and it's taxing on my stimuli meter.  

Make no mistake, I love my students, but we've got some challenging ones at our school this year.  I'm choosing my words carefully and modeling good choices, and reminding myself that they are children (even if they think they're grown).  And on the drive home I'm trying to be fully present with my girls as they talk about their days, but sometimes I just want to enforce silent time so my brain can rest. 

I've spent my afternoon and evening time hustling to get my big girls to all of their rehearsals and activities and homework.  They are busy with little lives of their own, and they already think I'm a stick in the mud because I try to limit their activities, online presence, and I'm a stickler about sleep and bedtimes.  I'm trying to make sure I pay attention to my littlest one as well.  Even though she loves her grandma who keeps her during the day, she really wants her family to stay together and hates it when we leave in the mornings for school.  I try to remember they deserve my patience and attention, even though I'm already sucked dry from a day with little children who do not live in my house.     

I have a husband gearing up for another summer season of awesome, but I also feel the pressure that comes along with that.  He'll be speaking and planning and busy until August (just in time for me to go back to school).  He loves his job, and it has given so much life to our family--but it comes at a price, too.  But he's been a rockstar this week and cooked some dinners and helped with clutter control to help alleviate my evenings.    

I feel like I'm drowning in laundry and housework and cooking and being all the motherly things.  I feel the guilt of not keeping a clutter-free home and dream of having someone to come in to clean the floors, bathrooms, and deep-cleaning the kitchen once in a while.  I feel a little selfish when I try to squeeze in a run in the afternoons rather than waiting for them to go to bed and I diffuse my essential oils for a hit of aromatherapy.  In my head I know how to keep this house organized and under control, but I feel like a failure when I'm not following through.  I have grand intentions every single morning of conquering a huge to-do list in the evenings when I'm home, but by the time I sit down and get everyone settled for bed, I'm usually falling asleep on the couch a little after 9pm because we are merely surviving in a season of hustle. 

In short, I'm like every other working parent. 

It's a perpetual state and I don't have the luxury of shutting it off, nor would I want to.  I only own pockets of quiet time throughout the day, and I get rattled when someone tries to interrupt my personal quiet space.  I know the notion about mamas getting their "me-time" and how important that is, but I also know that mamas have to pay for that me-time and the currency is usually clean homes, home-cooked meals, sanity, and/or laundry.  

In the middle of this week, one of my girls dealt with something pretty serious and she didn't feel like the matter was resolved properly.  When I reached out to the other party to try to make sense of the situation, I did not like the reply I was given.

At all. 

In fact, all of my pent up frustration and exhaustion and irritation that simmers on a daily basis boiled over and I got flippin' tables angry.  I was so mad and frustrated and shocked.  I felt my whole body shaking and I immediately felt rage and disbelief.  I was ready to pack my bags and my family and figure out a way we could just live off the grid and not deal with the situation and/or any other situations.  

And I had exactly 3 minutes to get myself under control because a class of children was getting ready to walk into my room.

I sobbed and grabbed a few tissues.  I begged the Lord to help me find peace because it was no where to be seen nor felt.  When the students walked into the room I pretended to blow my nose and smiled and told them I had allergies and they were none the wiser.  

to be continued. . .

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