I’ve felt it coming on for a while. The exhaustion. The burnout. The sinking, drowning feeling I can’t quite escape. I come up for gulps of air, gasping for breath. I know these patterns aren’t good for me. I know I need to reset, let go, set things aside.
So much of what I do are good things with good people. I’m grateful for the things and the people and the goodness. But I’ve slowly begun to realize that I’m letting these things define me and dictate my schedule. And I let my schedule run my life. And a conviction rises is my chest. Slow down. Take a breath. Make space. But the schedule keeps on demanding and the needs keep rising and I squelch the conviction until it fits into a little box and pack it away to deal with later.
I’m a doer, an achiever by nature. I think most firstborns are. I’ve always been commended for my ability to get things done and do it right the first time. I’m not even bragging here- it’s just what people say. Unfortunately, this combines with my desire to please and make people I care about happy. And these two, the achiever and the pleaser, form a dangerous love child: the “more” complex. I’m handed more, I take on more, I fill my calendar more. But the “more” complex comes as a pair with its sister, less. As I take on and fill, I am emptied and poured out. I sleep less. I read less. I cook less. I see my husband less.
And that just isn’t working for me anymore. I understand there are some things I can’t say “no” to. I get that everyone has responsibilities. I know that I chose my lifestyle and ingrained my habits. But it’s time for me to break the chains I have wrapped around myself. The ones pulling me down and drowning me, no matter how well-intentioned they were in the beginning.
There is a scene in one of my favorite movies, The Holiday, in which Cameron Diaz’s character Amanda says, “… so the stress of it all shows up on our faces making us look haggard.” I can’t begin to tell you how many times the word haggard has come to mind when I’ve looked at myself in the mirror lately. This is not a matter of self image or self deprecation; I recognize that I have abused my body by feeding it complete crap (who has time for real food?), by not sleeping like I should, and by going full speed from 5AM to 10PM six days a week.
And it’s not working. I get no benefits from living life this way. It’s not what God intended for me. At the beginning of the year, Zach and I chose obedience as our word for 2016. Right now, I cannot delay my obedience to this conviction God has placed on my heart. Because as my pastor so wisely teaches, delayed obedience is disobedience too.
So it’s time to pull the plug on a few things and substitute them for others that are life-giving and meaningful. It’s time to defy the trend of hustle and busyness and convenience. This means making time for home cooked meals and exercise and a four letter word I haven’t heard in a while: rest. It means learning to say “no” when someone asks me to commit to something new. And it means releasing responsibility in other areas of my life so I can enjoy the empty spaces on my calendar with a good book, a long run, and time with my husband.
This long-time-coming revelation happens to coincide with a few things to help me kickstart this shift- my Spring Break, an Elevation staff fitness and health initiative, and the upcoming end of my face-to-face weekday Masters classes.
So I’m hitting a hard reset this week while we spend a few days away. I know that this is an ongoing process, that it will take time to cut away these entangled chains, but it’s a process I want to start now, not later. I won’t let them pull me down anymore.
Instead of sinking under the weight of my obligations and self-imposed stress, I want to sink deep into Mercy’s sea, deep into the grace and love Jesus gives me with the beginning of each new day, each new moment. And I’m believing in the promise God has placed in my heart that despite all odds and against all trends, it is possible.