When Self-Control Is In Short Supply

Have you ever tried to squeeze into too-small jeans, managed to get them over your hips, sucked in and zipped up only to realize that all that extra “you” is now spilling out over the top of the waistband?  

toddler squeezing into jeans

Sometimes that’s how life after loss feels.  

Too much emotion, too much baggage, too much EVERYTHING that has to fit inside a very narrow set of other people’s expectations and tolerance for self-expression.

I find that I CAN squeeze my words and actions into that skinny space-for awhile.  

But then sure as anything, the real me pops out the top and there I am-exposed to the world- warts and all.  

I’ve discovered that self-control is not a limitless commodity.  

Now before my Bible believing friends remind me that it is part of the fruit of the Spirit, I want to say this:  it sure is!  And because the Spirit of Jesus lives inside me I can promise you I am more self-controlled than I would otherwise be.

BUT…

When every single word, action, thought and feeling has to be reined in every waking moment, there is not enough self-control this side of heaven to do THAT!

exhausted-over-trying-to-be-stronger-than-i-feel

So I find that some days I just need to stay away from people.  Because if I don’t, I’m going to be ugly.

And other days I can do people but I can’t control my eating.

Still other days I can do people and count calories but memories leak out of my eyes and I blubber my way through until darkness brings sleep and relief.

There is just so much inside me now. 

So much that really can’t be laid bare or it would scare everyone else half to death.  

So I keep trying to squeeze myself into the constraints that make me fit for company.  

But beware- I might pop out any minute.  ❤

 

pain behind every tear

Through Tears

Honestly I have no idea why I don’t climb my stairs, lay down in bed and pull the covers over my head.

Well, really I DO know why:  it’s the enabling grace of Christ Jesus in my life

But my flesh still wants to give up and give in.

Because there is NO LIMIT to the amount of  pain a heart may have to bear on this earthly journey.

how are you fine words in letters

I feel awfully guilty sometimes for being overwhelmed by my circumstances when I hear of much more challenging situations that other hearts face.

I have to remind myself that comparison is unhealthy regardless of whether I’m stacking up pain or pleasure, blessings or trials.

Truth is, sometimes life just sucks.

I know that’s an unpopular assertion among church folks.

But it’s a fact.

God shows up and He showers grace.  And His grace sustains me.  Still, I feel ALL the pain.

Faith is not anesthesia.

faith says i will sit with you in the pain

I’ll be honest-I’ve had a summer full of hard things.  I’ve greeted more than one sunrise with tears.  I’ve ended more than one day worn out, worn down and utterly bereft of hope that tomorrow will be any better.

When I’m finally able to enter the bliss of dreamless sleep I manage a bit of escape until the day’s dawn drags my heart back to reality.

Of course the background noise of grief and loss never changes but goodness gracious how I’d love 24 uninterrupted hours of everything going right!

So far that hasn’t happened,

Seriously. 

I’m getting kind of used to it. 

I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness,
    the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed.
I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—
    the feeling of hitting the bottom.
But there’s one other thing I remember,
    and remembering, I keep a grip on hope:

      God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out,
    his merciful love couldn’t have dried up.
They’re created new every morning.
    How great your faithfulness!
I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over).
    He’s all I’ve got left.

Lamentations 3:19-24 MSG

Overcome, Overwhelmed and Undone

The past seven days have been anything but the lazy, hazy days of summer. 

There has not been a solid 24 hours where some kind of crisis didn’t find its way to my doorstep, across my driveway or into my living room.  

Seriously.  

tree on driveway edited

On a scale of one to ten, none actually rank high in that there’s not a solution or plan of action. 

But every single one of them raised my stress and anxiety to very uncomfortable heights.  

I have no idea why I keep thinking maybe-just maybe-there will be a season of rest when I can get my feet under me, get my mind settled (a bit) and get the laundry put away.

There are good days.  

But then there are bad ones right on their heels.

I’m 54 years old, raised and home educated four children, helped my husband with his career and a personal business, managed a small farm and cooked, cleaned and was the all around go-fer for my family while each one pursued his or her education and dreams.

But there has been no season as stress-filled and trying as this one: the season of grief, the season of missing, the season where I have had to admit that control is an illusion.

So many days I watch the sunset in defeat.

Overcome, overwhelmed and undone.

I know the new day will bring new mercies and that is how my heart holds onto hope. 

lamentations-3-22-23

Repost: Emotional Bankruptcy-I Can’t Spend the Same Energy Twice

I wasn’t born with an “I don’t give a hoot” gene.

When I commit to a person, a project or a problem, I’m all in-no holding back.

That’s why this side of Dominic’s leaving I’ve been very cautious about making commitments. But in the past year I’ve begun branching out and joining in again.

In many ways it has been a positive experience.

In other ways, not so much.

Read the rest here:  Emotional Bankruptcy: I Can’t Spend the Same Energy Twice

Ain’t Nothing Easy About It

I’ve been doing this for 1,487 days. 

If it takes two weeks to form a habit, I’m way past habit by now.  

Except that, as C.S. Lewis says, “in grief nothing ‘stays put'” so even though it seems I am traveling the same road, walking the same territory, it shifts and moves so that I’m never quite sure of my footing.

And there ain’t nothing easy about it. 

No flat spots to catch my breath.  No downhill slope regardless of how many hills I climb.  It seems that I never reach a patch that’s just a little less strenuous.  

I wish I would.

I wish so badly that I could have two days strung together where I could just kind of coast along-no real effort required.

charlie brown too tired to cry

Last week I visited my oldest son in Florida.  He’s really into CrossFit and while my joints preclude my participation, he convinced his younger brother to join in a friendly intra-gym competition.

As I sat watching Julian lift that weighted bar over and over all I could think of was, “This is hard, but it’s not the hardest thing you’ve ever done.”  

julian at crossfit1

When you’ve buried a brother (or a child) and lived each day since, there aren’t too many things that measure up to that level of difficulty.

I wish I could say that I’m better at this by now, but I’m not.  

There are better days-I can laugh and rejoice and even sing-but when grief rolls over me it is just as devastating-every. single. time.

It doesn’t last as long.  

And for that I’m thankful. 

But ain’t nothing easy.

It’s still hard.  

For in grief nothing “stays put.” One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often — will it be for always? — how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, “I never realized my loss till this moment”? The same leg is cut off time after time.

~C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed

 

Ain’t Got Time (Or Energy!) For That

I wouldn’t describe myself as an optimist. 

It’s not really that I always see the glass half-full, it’s just that somewhere, early in life, I learned to be thankful I had a glass.

half-full

So when faced with a challenge or problem or even devastating circumstances, my first thought is, “What resources do I have available to address this?”

I used to be able to take Negative Nellies in stride. 

I could brush off their comments like gnats in the summer. 

Annoying, but ultimately powerless to do me harm. 

And I used to spend a lot of time cheerleading for others-trying hard to help them see that whatever situation THEY were in was not as hopeless as they thought.

I tried to encourage friends, family and even acquaintances to use their own deep resources to tackle a problem.  

But somehow, in this Valley, surrounded by high mountains and with an unlit path winding long before me, negative talk, action and attitudes are on my nerves.

Instead of merely being an annoyance, it feels like these folks have tapped into whatever strength I have left and are draining it through a straw.

If I stick around too long, they will drain me dry.

So I turn and run when I can.  

Call it cowardice.  

I call it self-preservation.

paco face (2)
“Don’t try to win over the haters, you are not a jackass whisperer.” ~ Brene Brown

 

What Else Can I Do?

I will confess right here that this week I am more than tired. 

I’m defeated. 

I have fought the good fight, tried hard to endure and worked myself nearly to death and in the end can’t move the challenging situations I face one inch closer to resolution.

And like I’ve written before here,these months and years after Dominic ran to heaven have amply demonstrated the truth of the phrase “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.  It’s not the STRAW, it’s the unbelievable heavy weight the camel is already carrying!

That last, seemingly tiny, almost weightless additional burden sends the poor critter over the edge.

straw that broke camel back

But unlike a dumb animal, I don’t get to just lay down and give up.  My head and my heart tell me that if I do, the load will just shift to my family.  If I quit I can’t simply drift off into witless sleep where I don’t realize how hard I’m making it for everyone else.

So I don’t give up. 

I keep on keeping on. 

I raise my eyes to the sky and beg God to give me the grace and strength and help to endure. 

I beg for mercy-for some small token that things might just get better.  

I lean into the promises of God in Christ and hold on with both hands.  

What else can I do but keep praying to You even when I feel dark;

to keep writing about You even when I feel numb;

to keep speaking Your name even when I feel alone.

Come, Lord Jesus come.

Have mercy on me, a sinner.

-Henri Nouwen