Real talk, friends. The last three months have stretched, pushed, poked and prodded me in more ways than I have time to share. I know you’ve been there. Maybe you can sense the stress mounting or maybe it snuck up on you but eventually you feel as the Psalmist did: “my soul is weary with sorrow”. So what do we do when we just “can’t even” with life?
*If you are facing a major life tragedy I would encourage you to reach out for help. These strategies, while simple, can seem overwhelming in the midst of fresh emotional chaos and complexity.*
Stress and exhaustion are unavoidable. As long as you and I are living we will at some point feel overwhelmed. Expect it. At the same time remember that it is temporary. It is highly unlikely that what you are currently trudging through will last forever and ever. Should you find yourself facing a more chronic battle (i.e. clinical depression, debilitating illness) remind yourself that even those struggles are allowed hope. Your circumstances do not define you. Neither do your emotions. One of my favorite quotes, and I’m honestly not sure where it originated, is this: “tell the negative committee that meets inside your head to sit down and shut up”. Sometimes we need a little comical honesty with our chaos.
It’s so true. A thankful heart can change our entire outlook. Years ago I was one to scoff at this idea but I’ve since learned from experience the incredible power of gratitude. The Apostle Paul had this one figured out! Even if you’re not feeling it, speak, write or draw things you can be thankful for. Gratitude for even the simplest joys of life like that cup of coffee or sunrise can change your mood. It may include re-framing some negative thoughts: “I’m grateful for this difficult person because they remind me I’m human”, or “they remind me God is patient with me”. “I’m grateful for my illness because it forces me to pay attention to my life and focus on what’s important”.
This is a hard one and we often make excuses for it. I’m sure you’ve heard the acronym H.A.L.T. At times when we are hungry, angry, lonely and tired we are more vulnerable to the effects of stress and spiritual attacks. For me personally being tired is a big trigger (just ask my family!). Does this mean we need to shut down our lives to focus on “self-care”? Not exactly. We’ll talk about self-care in a future post actually, but for now let’s just say that self-care is balance, not avoidance. Balancing our physical, spiritual, and emotional health is a constant journey in the ebb and flow of our lives.
Does anyone enjoy asking for help? Show of hands? I didn’t think so. Ironically we struggle in this area the most when we most need it. Deep down we fear the vulnerability attached to reaching out and inviting someone into our mud pit. We certainly don’t want to appear weak and needy, but at the same time we also don’t want to get them dirty. Guess what? They have their own mud pit somewhere. Why not visit each other’s mud pit periodically then climb out together and get cleaned up? We all need a handful of people we can call at any moment and say “hey, can we talk?” Never underestimate the power of speaking your struggle out loud with a trusted friend.
My season of “I can’t even” was beautifully interrupted this past weekend. My stressors haven’t disappeared but some key moments of realism, gratitude, balance and reaching out have been a breath of fresh air. After talking with a friend, albeit through text, about how I’d been feeling I felt a sense of relief. In fact that conversation led to this post. Just a few days after that conversation my husband and I had an unexpected, quiet Sunday afternoon with friends that stretched into the evening. “Quiet” was needed, yes, but more than that our hours of talks were all about visiting each other’s mud pits, speaking gratitude, and gaining perspective. So today I find myself very grateful and a little less burdened. The struggle is real, as they say, but for now I’d prefer to remember that the struggle is good.
“I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint”- Jeremiah 31:25