The heat of summer wraps around me like a blanket. I’d much rather overheat and faint than feel my muscles clench and bones rattle in the freezing cold. I’d rather endure sunburns than numb fingers and toes. Summer is my comfortable place. The kids are home to help around the house. Food is easily prepared on the grill. I allow myself to sit in the sunlight listening or reading books for hours on end to keep my mind busy. It is glorious. We’ve gone to the beach countless times, been camping and plans to camp some more.
This last week, I pushed myself too hard and paid for it in nervous breakdowns. I want so much to be the super-fun, super-social, super-busy mom. I’m still learning to respect my own boundaries. To allow God’s grace to reach past my wall of self-sufficient pride. It’s ok if we can’t do it all, you know? We’re human, not superheros. I’m preaching to myself, in my weakness God is proved gloriously strong. It’s noon and here I am in my pajamas still. Coffee in hand. I slept well last night, but remain worn out from the labors of the “incidents”. They don’t talk about that part, do they? We know that clinical anxiety and depression often lead to chronic fatigue, but when my logic scribbles in crazy lines and I lose my grasp on sanity from time to time, the amount of energy I spend is immeasurable. Maintaining sanity is much easier than fighting for it. My man called out of work to take care of me yesterday. I need to patiently rest today so I can function normally again for him, for kids, for myself this weekend (nod to spoon theory). This is all very humbling. But I’m thankful. I’m thankful for Ben’s love and patience with me. The way he endures words spoken in fits of suffocating understanding, pain and heartache and yes, sin, spilling out from the depths of my heart. I don’t even always remember what what I say or what happened during an episode. I know I am stressed, and my body aches from tension and tears. My body is broken, my mind is as well. Medications don’t make the crosses we have been blessed to bear disappear. Chronic illness isn’t necessarily caused by sin, but it is certainly aggravated by it. Does that make sense? I’m so thankful that a broken body does not equate to being spiritually hopeless. I’m so thankful for a man that holds me when I have crazy hair, and a swollen tear stained face and reminds me for the millionth, trillionth, gazillionth time that he loves me and he won’t ever leave me. I thankful for my kids and how they are growing up. How responsible my daughters are and obedient my sons can be. All praise be to God.
Last spring, I decided it was time to construct boundaries on social media. I don’t explain myself very well sometimes. Context can really help, but that is the blessing and curse of the internet. You don’t need to know someone to know about them. Personally, I hear criticism much louder than praise, it is a discipline I’m trying to learn. Facebook and blogging can be overwhelming in that respect. In any case, setting boundaries proved useful. I “unfriended” or rather, “unplugged” several people from my news feed. Being friends in real life is different than being friends in virtual life. It helped. Facebook is no longer a stressful place for me. When God gives you a healthy helping of challenges in your life, sometimes it is good to eliminate the optional ones. No grudges or anger or resentment — just simplifying. Recently, Desiring God published a really good article on social media interaction. I highly recommend it and you can read it here.
Last Christmas our church disbanded. I’ve been through church breakups and crumbles before and they are never a good thing. The church is for the sick, not the well, and never is this reality more evident than when we forget it. We are attending and in the process of joining a different church. I like to think I’m going in with my eyes open. We are all human, we come together to learn and worship, we bring all our sins and all our gifts to the table. We will be family, sharing together in laughter and in loss. We will all sin against each other and be brought back into fellowship again through Jesus Christ. You can’t pick your brothers and sisters in Christ anymore than you pick your genetic family — you just have to commit to love one another despite the cost. This is the Christian church and being able to find unity in Christ is a glory. I was getting to know someone recently and I asked what church her family attended. She told me, and laughed lightly, “it’s the only Christian church in town.” What a thing, I thought. We tend to be so spoiled, we pick our denomination, we pick who we want to listen to and worship with when we go church “hunting”. Some of it is necessary, but mostly, it’s just priviledge. Perhaps drawing lines in the sand between ourselves where God has not. I was raised fundamental dispensationalist, and when I married my husband, I converted to reformed protestantism. Still Christian, still believing in One true God, still worshipping the same Alpha and Omega. It is good to have like minded brothers and sisters in Christ, but we need to be careful about breaking fellowship with the other denominations. For looking down our nose at the differences. We are the body of Christ, working towards one goal. I’m not saying there aren’t deal-breakers. But you know, generally, we should work to love because of our differences not in spite of them. I spent the the last two years relearning praise worship in my church community, and now that I am in a different community, I’m trying to remember the hymns, chants and psalms I learned years ago. It is a good work. God is not Simon Cowell. Praise God, am I right?
It is almost two o’clock now. I’m weary. Blogging takes so much time and energy. Trying to speak to an unknown audience, hoping to bless and encourage them without knowing how or what or why. My inner critic imagines I must be very boring. I learned my lesson of the pitfalls of sensational blogs. No thanks. I’ll pass. Some opinions are better kept private. My eyes are drooping. My head feels heavy. It is ok, I’m telling myself, it is alright that you are tired again. God isn’t angry with me. I need Him, obviously. He died for people like me. The weight of the world is unbearable; death of loved ones, broken hearts, broken promises, broken bodies. I have children to raise, a husband to bless, a house to tend, friends to love, a disciple to be. But my God meets me in my futility, he picks me up and cradles me as a mother embraces her child. He lifts burdens from me and replaces them with peace. My body fights on, but my soul finds rest over and over again. He is faithful. Nothing can tear me from His grip.