Yesterday I saw an author sitting at a book signing table with zero line, just him and a giant stack of books.. I thought to myself that’s how I feel each week praying that my words reach even just one person, so if you are reading this.. I am grateful for you…also if I ever write a book I’ll expect you to be in line there too and hopefully you’ll bring 100 of your closest friends.
This week I had one of those “sandpaper moments”.. you know the kind where God is refining you but it feels a lot more like massive discomfort that can’t possibly lead anywhere positive? I had been experiencing a terribly stiff neck and a jaw that just wouldn’t unclench for a million dollars leading to days after days of headaches and grumpy moods. I assumed I would walk in and he would be like “Okay here’s some medicine and you should be back to normal in 7-10 days” NOT. AT. ALL. My Dr. asked me several questions and then replied “I don’t think you’re going to like this answer..you’re in great health, you just don’t have a healthy way of dealing with stress.”
STRESS? I couldn’t believe what he was saying mostly because I was just sure there was going to be a quick fix for my discomfort and somewhat because I was not prepared to talk about feelings.
I have to admit that when I first heard his conclusion I was offended.. like who was this hippie and what did he know about medicine anyways. It wasn’t until later that afternoon after a heart to heart with my sister and the Dr’s words settled that I felt well.. a little less offended. The truth is I didn’t even realize that I was stressed or anxious or running on empty emotionally. I hadn’t slowed down long enough to realize that the reason I haven’t been feeling well is because I have asked my body to keep performing even though I have been failing to nourish it spiritually, emotionally and routinely. My tank has been on E (much like my gas tank currently is..).
Hearing those words from my Dr. made me stop, slow down and evaluate where I am, what’s important and what needs to change. Maybe you’re in a similar place but have had a difficult time climbing out of the hole you’re currently in.
Maybe you’re a wife or mama who has lost her identity and feels like her days all run together.
Maybe you don’t like what you see when you look in the mirror but you find yourself sabotaging any kind of progress (whyyyyy do we do this??)
Maybe you are in a place where you want life to look differently but are afraid to make any major changes.
Maybe you’re like me and you’re in a season of chasing GOD SIZED dreams and it’s easy to get discouraged.
I have walked through all of those seasons… because well BLESS I guess I had a ton of refining to do! I wish I could tell you that it gets easier but I would be lying.. I believe you have to get STRATEGIC. So.. my Dr says I am over stressed.. I could cry about it (oh wait I did) but THEN I wiped my face off and had to get down to business. We can be stuck but we don’t have to say stuck! I decided that I would start by being honest about why I was feeling so overwhelmed.
For me, it boils down to CONTROL.. I like it, I love it, I want some MORE of it! I think everyone on some level battles with the feeling of wanting to be in control. Once I realized what was bothering me I decided I needed subcategories which I broke down into these 3 major points of distress..
- The inability to control when or HOW we have a baby.
- The inability to control where we live, when we move there and what house we get.
- The inability to control what other people think of me.
Just typing those three things made my jaw clench y’all.
It’s not as if it’s easy to talk about hard seasons of life we have already walked through but to me it’s certainly easier than talking about current seasons.. because I’m still in the messy middle. I have yet to see God’s grace and love and ultimately his redemption. I would rather talk about all the ways He used hard parts of my past because I have already walked through those parts of my story and my heart has already healed from those wounds.. but this, this raw feeling of vulnerability.. it’s not my favorite. Recently though I have felt the tug to be COMPLETELY honest and that means you can’t pick and choose what you share and what you keep locked up behind closed doors because it’s just plain uncomfortable.
I think that a lot of women get it wrong, they assume if you love Jesus and you are willing to share your hard parts with others that life should go a little more smoothly.. man wouldn’t that be nice? Maybe.. but a life lived that way wouldn’t be much of a “city on a hill” and it most certainly wouldn’t be “come as you are.” You can dress up the ugly parts of your story all you’d like but at the end of the day you have to decide do you want everyone to like you OR do you want to like YOU?
So where do we start? How do we begin to nourish our body, mind a soul when we find ourselves in the desert place? For me..
- Draw the line.. decide you’re not staying where you are.
- Slowing down and being PRESENT.
- Intentionally filling your mind with uplifting music, books, quotes, scripture.. after all what goes in WILL come out.
- Getting organized.. something about clean sheets and a new planner does the trick!
- ALL. THE. GRACE. .. understanding that all of these things are wonderful tools but they are small drops in a large bucket thats been sitting empty!
I’ll close tonight with a story about this weekend.. it ties in so beautifully to the idea of slowing down, being present and focusing on what you actually can control. Please believe me when I say even when you feel like no one sees your small daily decisions to lean not on your own understanding… the ONLY one who matters does and he honors obedience!
On Friday, the day after my not so fun Dr visit my husband and I had another difficult appointment In Atlanta with a fertility clinic. (We are just in the checking it out phase.. I’ll update if there’s any change!) We drove up the night before and I had decided earlier that evening that I was going to relax even if I had to stop and remind myself to relax every 5 minutes. I chose to use the phrase “just focus on today” to remind me to not have anxious thoughts. On our way to Atlanta we got hungry and stopped for a quick bite to eat..the cashier handed us our food and said “don’t worry about it”.. I have to admit free food just plain tastes better.
The next morning we arrived at the office, had a great visit and when we checked out the gal ringing us out said “oh you get 50% off this visit because you’re military” cha-ching! We left the office and drove to grab some Mexican food, the wait was long but we were patient and our waitress came over and said my new favorite words, “The Queso is on the house for your patience.” I mean seriously, we were on a roll! We headed next to the Georgia Aquarium and were waiting in a sweaty line when a worker came over and explained to us that if we bought our tickets online they were discounted today and we could jump the line to the front… we were both laughing by this point at our good fortune!
After we saw every possible fish we could see we stopped by the mall before heading home, Chris wanted some new jeans but he hates spending full price..we walked into Gap and the first pair of jeans I laid my hands on were his size and to my surprise HEAVILY discounted I checked with the cashier and he too was surprised that these full price jeans were wrongly tagged but he gladly honored the price! We had a heck of a day.. and you know what I didn’t clench all day! I definitely had moments of worry but I quickly spoke over myself “Focus just on today” and the moment I took my thoughts captive the anxiety left. God gave us such fun favor on Friday but mostly I am thankful that my Heavenly Father saw the way I focused on small obediences.
Friends, everything you do or don’t do matters. Take your thoughts captive, change what goes into your mind to change what kind of fruit you produce, but mostly friends… Grace.
Have a blessed week,