“When my soul is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I”-Psalms 61:2
Sometimes, I wish more than anything, I could come home, pack the car, pack the dog and leave. Not my husband. Not necessarily my home. But my hurry. I want to leave my stress. I want to leave my responsibilities. I want to leave my “have to”.
They say when you encounter a stressful situation, or are faced with fear, you automatically react with a “fight or flight” reflex. Apparently, I immediately want to fly. And when I realize there’s no logic in flying, I fight. Or as I feel like most of the time, tread water to keep from drowning.
I remember, vividly, sitting in AP English my junior year of high school when my English teacher at the time told me a brutally honest truth that would affect, and inevitably protect me from that moment forward. I had just finished my research paper and earned one of the highest grades in the class. I sat down to look over my to do list. I served as the State President of a business organization, cheered, sang in the school’s choir, participated in All-State Choir, took voice lessons, served on the yearbook committee and had multiple college applications in the works. I had homework, the State’s Annual Business Report due, a new routine to learn for cheerleading, two sheets of music left to learn in my latest song and needed to be at work by 3 pm. As I sat and strategized how I would complete my endless list of responsibilities, my teacher exclaimed in her stern and all knowing voice, “Bethany, you are an absolute work-a-holic. And if you don’t stop, you my dear, will work yourself to death.”
Being the intelligent high schooler I was (insert sarcasm), I brushed it off. However, for some reason I couldn’t totally shake her words no matter how much I told myself they weren’t true. I continued, well into college, overloading my schedule. After a disappointing legal internship, I found myself with too many hours in a semester and no idea what I wanted to do following graduation. I knew I didn’t want to do law anymore. It’s not I didn’t make the grades or have the passion-I still love the law-but I decided I wanted a life outside of my career. It was too overwhelming. I couldn’t stop working or thinking about all there was to accomplish. The funny thing is, no matter how hard I try, I always find myself where I am tonight: overwhelmed.
Overwhelmed. Stretched too thin. Exhausted. With a full to do list staring back at me. I talked to my husband. Cried. A lot. I talked to my mom. I talked to few close friends. Still overwhelmed.
Not just with work. With everything. Managing a household. Being a wife. It is absolutely impossible to give 100 percent to every aspect of life. Impossible. And lately, I’ve been given a big dose of reality in that department. Thankfully, I have a network of people close to me that grab me by the shoulders and tell me wonderful bits of truth when I need to hear it most and I guess you could say this is both a venting session and rally cry: in blog form.
This is for you. Overwhelmed, exhausted, stretched too thin girl with a daunting list in front of you. Piles of laundry surround you. There are dirty dishes in the sink. You fell asleep on the couch at 8 PM again. You oversleep. Scramble to get ready. Put on mascara to make it look like you sort of halfway maybe tried. You run to the couch, grab your laptop, scoop up the assignments you still haven’t completed and grab your handbag. Heels in hand, you run past your husband with a quick kiss, scratch the dog on the head and run out the door. You begin working, take a bathroom break and scroll through Facebook for a quick minute, inhale a grilled cheese and work late. You go home, cook dinner, and chat with your husband when he comes in from the farm. Same story. Every day. Weekends are spent attempting to catch up and remind your hubby that you still love him and think he’s the greatest.
You tell yourself you aren’t doing this anymore. You’re going to set boundaries for yourself. You want to be a good you. A good wife. A good mom (dog mom for some of us). You try getting up earlier to do a Bible study. You buy a Lululemon yoga mat. You diffuse essential oils. Your priorities have changed so much in such a little time yet your responsibilities just keep increasing. You try to balance it all. And you fail. You get behind, you get overwhelmed, you can’t say no.
Sweet friend, I am you. I am there. Tonight. You are not alone. I desperately want to run away. Turn up the radio in the car and head east. I want to sit and stare and take deep breaths and sleep without an alarm. I want to snuggle up next to my husband out on the farm and ride with him to check on the new calves. I want to read a book. I want to actually cook the $200 worth of groceries in my fridge and have clean laundry to wear. I want to have dinner with a friend and take a day off without feeling guilty. I want my life back.
How do we do that when it all snowballs like this? I don’t know. But it starts with creating margins. My very good friend told me tonight, I am not leaving myself margins. I am filling up my paper completely without any space on the sides. And as an English major, I of all people know, you do not write in the margins. So that means I have to prioritize what fills my paper-between the appropriate lines. I have to prioritize. Which I hate. Everything is important in my world.
It’s easy to say my husband; my family and my household come first. It’s not easy to choose those things over staying up late to stay ahead at work or attending a really important social event that makes good connections. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do our best in all we do, but I am saying if we choose to be 150% at work, 150% at our social responsibilities and 150% in being a friend and daughter, there is nothing left at home. There’s nothing left for God to work with much less work through. There’s nothing left period. There is no time for rest. True much needed rest.
I don’t have a strong biblical lesson that this post points to. I don’t have wisdom to share. But I do want to say to you, and to myself, you aren’t alone in this. Give yourself a break. Do the best you can. And pray to prioritize in a way that honors God and his plan for your life. It’s hard right now I know. Believe me. And daydreaming about the hopes for your future does not seem logical nor does it fit in the logistics of your itinerary. But friend, if we don’t, we will never get the courage to step off the hamster wheel and rest in the “rock higher” than we are.
Prioritize around the dream God has planted deep in your heart and the plans you know that he has in store, because the Word tells you they are good. Then, forget the rest. Some days it all won’t get done. And that dream will seem absolutely impossible. Heck, some days taking a break period will seem impossible. Some days you won’t be okay. Some days you will want to run. Some days you will fail. And that’s okay.
Sweet friend, tonight, get out a clean sheet of paper; take a breath, prioritize-dream-give yourself some grace and stop writing in the margins.