The last several months have been nothing short of pure chaos. I taught a new grade level this year, after being in 5th grade for six years I moved to 4th grade. Not a giant leap, but still new and different. Teaching through a pandemic provided so many unique challenges – but it will be a year that we will never forget. I am also at the very end of my Masters program – which has consumed so much of my time. My classwork is finished and now I am working through my six-month principal internship. When I finished my last class I felt such relief – until I officially started my internship, when I quickly realized that it was going to be much more work than I had anticipated. And of course, managing a household where six of the seven of us live is always a daunting task week to week.
Lately I have allowed ALL of this busyness to control me and it has truly robbed me of my peace and contentment. My mind is always running – especially at 3am – and I walk around in a state of exhaustion. In my frazzled state I find myself drifting back to the comparison game. I look around and it doesn’t appear to me that any of my mom friends or teacher friends are struggling with life like I am. I see their perfect family posts on instagram and my self-worth shrinks. I know that the part of other people’s lives that I see is their highlight reel – I know this logically – but I still let it get the best of me.
This weekend has been really rough on me, and last night I felt broken. At one point, through my tears, I remember saying to my husband, “I just can’t find any peace. I don’t even know what makes me happy anymore.” As I tossed and turned through the night, I kept hearing those words on repeat. When I woke up this morning, I had a bit of a confetti moment. I’ve been trying so hard to do so much on my own. No wonder everything is so hard. I am not content because I have been relying on my own strength, rather than leaning into God and relying on HIS power in me. I desperately need Him. He is the source of my contentment, my peace, and my joy. Rather than looking to others and comparing myself, I should be looking to God and seeing myself the way He sees me. I am not supposed to be able to “handle” everything on my own. I was created to be in union with my creator as I walk through life. The emptiness that I feel is a God sized gap – just waiting for me to realize it is there for Him.
Today, I am choosing God. I am going to loosen my grip on trying to control everything around me, and open my hands for what God has to give me.
My heart is confident, God. I will sing; I will sing praises with the whole of my being.
Yesterday was such an amazing day of celebration. First and foremost, we celebrated Easter – Resurrection Day! The day the we declare that the tomb was empty, Jesus had risen and in that we find our freedom. We gathered at our house later in the afternoon to hunt Easter eggs and share a meal together. But we also celebrated being together. It had been more than a year since we had broken bread with my parents. We had shared some driveway visits over the last year, and lots of FaceTime calls, but we had not been in the same room for more than 365 days! I had not felt a hug from my mom and daddy for over 12 months!
So we gathered, my parents, Chris’ parents, and our girls. We missed having Zach and Katie, and our siblings and nieces and nephews. And we hope that someday soon we can ALL gather together. But we enjoyed the precious time we did have with those who were able to be together. We laughed. We talked. And we listened. Sometimes we just sat – perfectly content with the silence of each other’s company.
The lesson we will take away is a lesson that many of us have learned through this incredibly challenging year. We learned to not take for granted the time we have with those we love. We learned to take every opportunity to be present with each other. I am so thankful for those lessons.
Just this morning, I wrote a blog post about enjoying joy. About appreciating the joy that is to be found around us in our lives. A few hours later I was sitting on the floor of my laundry room overwhelmed to the point of tears. Not tears of joy. These were tears of a momma who was teetering on the edge of hopelessness. Mommin’ ain’t easy. Somedays it is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
So there I sat in the floor of my laundry room, surrounded by mountains of clothes (six people create a lot of dirty laundry) feeling like a big fat fraud. Where was my joy now? Didn’t I just post about how joyful life is and how all you have to do is look and find the joy? Now, to be totally transparent, I wasn’t crying about how much laundry I had to do. No, this was not about that. I will not share the details of what caused my meltdown – not because I am trying to hide my “ugly” – but out of respect for the privacy of others involved in the situation. And the situation is not really the point anyway.
The point is about joy. There are some moments where I am not naturally, organically overwhelmed with life’s joy. But that does not mean that it is not present. What it truly means is that I have lost my sight of it, while choosing to focus on the yucky stuff. My perspective shifted from being thankful for all of the good stuff, to wallowing in the muck that threatens to steal my joy. But here’s the thing….I am not at all saying that life should be rosy and rainbows every single day. I know that fact all too well. I think what I am trying to say (I’m discovering it as I type) is that even though life feels like a mess sometimes, and we as humans can feel way too caught up in the chaos, we don’t have to unpack and stay there. We can shift our perspective and choose to be happy in our circumstances. No, we don’t “fake it” and just act like everything is okay so that our friends and neighbors don’t judge us. No, we don’t bury our heads in the sand and not deal with the hard stuff because we want to dance around the house like a Disney princess. We face things, we learn to cope with things, we grow from things – all while we focus our eyes on the good stuff that we can hold on to.
I guess what all of my rambling here really means is that when you find yourself sitting on your laundry room floor crying and feeling like you just might drown – its okay. You are not alone! Just don’t camp out there too long because you might miss out on the goodness that there is out there for you!
The minute I opened my eyes yesterday morning, I felt it. I felt that all too familiar pain in my body, in my joints, in my muscles. An all-over pain that makes it hard to even move at times. Before going to sleep I had made a mental list of all of the things that I needed and wanted to do with my Saturday. I had a full day to get all of the things done that lingered from the week. I had a full day to do the things that make me happy and keep me centered. But my fibromyalgia had different plans. I know that on days when my pain is high that the best thing that I can do for my body is to rest. I know this in my head. My body needs to rest. So, why is that so hard?
I got up, poured my coffee and began my typical Saturday morning ritual. Plan the week’s menu. Create a grocery list for the week. That was easy enough and didn’t zap me of what little energy I had. The next thing on my list was to decorate the mantle and coffee bar for Valentine’s Day. (Side note: I was pretty excited about this as I have spent the last month making shelf sitters and paintings, etc to use). By the time I had carried all of the decorations up from my craft room in the basement and organized them, I had to sit and take a break. Pain was now coupled with frustration! Thirty minutes later I was able to muster enough energy to decorate (a “task” that I was so looking forward to) and then hit the couch again.
Now, if you’re reading this and thinking about how whiny I sound, I apologize. Yes, I was a little whiny and upset about the way my Saturday morning was progressing. But keep reading, because I promise there is more that just complaining. There is a lesson (at least there was for me.)
As I laid on the couch, trying to listen to my body telling me that it desperately needed a day of rest, I tried to let go of my frustrations and shift my focus. I asked myself, why is it so hard for me to just rest? Besides frustration, what was I truly feeling in the moment? I thought a lot about what was so hard about resting. And here’s the thing – the feeling that was really eating at me was guilt. I felt guilt and shame. It felt selfish to be lying around all day and not “doing” anything at all. Even though it was what my body was screaming for. I was ashamed of the fact that I was laying around not getting things crossed off my list. Shouldn’t I be busy doing something? Anything? Maybe it’s a mom thing. Maybe it’s a teacher thing. Maybe it’s a lethal combination of the two. I’m not sure I understand it at all, but I know that it is something that I need to be aware of and to “fix” in myself. (More guilt and shame).
It’s okay to listen to what my body needs. It’s okay to NOT be busy all the time. It’s okay if the dog hair collecting the corners stays put for one more day. Rest is not a bad thing. Rest is a necessary thing. I do not need to feel guilty for taking care of my body and my mind. So, I did it. I laid on the couch ALL DANG DAY. And guess what, this morning I feel so much better. I still think I need to process through the feelings of guilt and shame. As for yesterday, I took a big step toward taking care of me and learning to rest.
“God is not at all concerned with me being good enough, but completely concerned with my being TRUSTING enough.”
I came across this quote this week while looking through an old journal of mine. I think it is so enlightening to dig back through old writings to help me see where I’ve been and how far I’ve come, and even how so many emotions have repeated themselves in the years of my life. This quote came from a sermon. One of those sermons that wrecks your heart. One of those sermons where you wonder how in the world the pastor knew exactly what you needed to hear. One of those “He is talking directly to me” sermons. Looking back, I do not honestly remember what I was going through at the time that made these words hit me so hard. But I do know that the quote resonates with me in a big way today.
Throughout this pandemic/stay at home/lockdown crisis, I have struggled. My emotions have controlled me. I have tried to face this out of control situation and control it. Worry has wrecked my sleep. Anxiety has overtaken my thoughts. Fear has captured my focus. I have been short-tempered with my family. I have spent days crippled by sadness – and then beat myself up for not accomplishing anything. All of this has left me wallowing in that old, lingering feeling that I’m just not good enough. I have allowed the small, powerful “IF” drive me crazy. If I was a better mom….If I was smarter….If I could manage my time better. ..If I could just be better…If I was good enough!
I do not believe that I came across this quote by accident this week. God knew I needed to hear it now. Because God truly does not need my goodness. He doesn’t need to me fight and claw to be good enough…because guess what, I never will be. I will never be “good enough” to earn His love. And that’s a good thing, because His love is offered free. What God does want from me is my trust. He desires that I would let go of the control I crave, and to trust Him with all that I am. He wants me to trust that He is in control. Trust should trump fear, anxiety, worry, and all of the other emotions that do not come from Him.
So, my prayer for today, and for every day going forward is to just trust. I pray to be wholly surrendered to Him and to trust Him enough!
Here I sit in my home office. A ridiculous pile of papers is taunting me. I should be grading them, but I’m not. I could be cleaning baseboards – goodness knows that chore is long overdue. I could be working on the 5 assignments I have due in my Master’s class. None of those things are ever really fun – but they all need done. Something always needs to be done. Life has gotten so incredibly busy that I cannot keep up. My soul is weary. I miss doing things that feed my spirit. I miss reading a book just because. I miss writing in my journal. I miss actually sitting down and sipping my coffee….savoring it. I should be doing something a little more “useful” with my time right now, but instead I am here. I am back on my blog. Sadly it had been so long since I last blogged that I had to look up my log in information. But here I am. I know that this is what makes my heart happy. Sharing my feelings. Using words to soothe. Pushing myself to be authentic even when it is scary. Nothing I am typing is earth shattering and to some it may even seem trivial. But jumping back onto the page and find refuge in words and thoughts is already making me feel more balanced and centered. Life can be crazy…sometimes I just have to jump off of that train and be still.