Learning To Combat Overwhelm
"Breathe, baby girl."
If there is one phrase my mother tells me the most it's that one. She often gently reminds me to breathe because apparently I forget to. I forget in high stress situations, when I jump immediately into problem solving mode, launch into hyper drive, and run until I can't anymore. I forget when I'm extremely excited about something and my mouth suddenly produces about a million words per minute. I forget when I'm upset and fight back tears and look down to find my hands clenched into fists. I forget when I feel backed into a corner and I just want to come out swinging. I forget when I feel exhausted and weary and tension has built up in every muscle in my body to the point of immobility. I forget, and obviously it's often enough that she had to buy me a mini plaque with the words "Just Breathe" beautifully etched on the front. It fell off my dresser and shattered this year and I held my breathe as I saw it hit the floor and break into pieces, clearly not heeding it's command. Lesson apparently NOT learned. *sigh
To be completely honest, I haven't been able to "breathe" for months. In fact, I feel like a complete mess. Hence, why there have been no blog posts since September. 2017 was a year that rocked me. It was filled with loss of every kind and if I'm going to be real, I'm still nursing a shattered heart and daily trying to let God have every little fragment. It was filled with so much change it left my head spinning and I found myself functioning in a way that I never have before, which was to barely function at all. I stopped. I stopped wanting to push through everything. It felt like God was lovingly forcing me to slow down so I could breathe. He still is. He's let me get tired of operating in my own strength. I'm exhausted.
All my life I've functioned fast. I know how to pick myself up and keep running. I know how to problem solve and find solutions. I know how to jump from one thing to the next and adjust to change very quickly. I know how to step in and help others, I can counsel and pray for them, fight with them and for them, or take on the heavier side of the load. And I find myself now, completely exhausted, overwhelmed, and frustrated with the fact that I am not doing things the way I have always done. Yesterday, during my meeting with my mentor, for the first time in 6 months, I finally felt my brain slow down. We sat and talked and I wept. Then, she prayed for me and read scripture to me as if I were a child preparing for bed, and it actually brought so much peace to my soul that I finally relaxed. My brain finally started to shut off so my heart and soul could rest.
She helped me unpack my mental backpack. Although many people tell me to "rest", I have found that very few know how to actually help me do so. More often than not, I am told that I am strong and to just keep pushing, just keep fighting, just keep on keeping on. And you know what? I finally had permission to fall apart and found God's grace in my mess. She encouraged me that God's grace is in my dirty dishes, my unmade bed, and my unwashed car --- All things that drive me crazy but at the same time I find so overwhelming at the moment. The smallest tasks are overwhelming right now, and she let me know that it's ok and that God is simply rewiring me and refining me. He's remaking me and filling in all the cracks in the process. I'm currently on the potter's wheel, and it's surprisingly painful and uncomfortable, but also comforting because I know that I am still in his hands. A completely shattered vessel that is being molded and made into something beautiful.
She listed off everything that has happened that has caused me to get to this point and said that if I wasn't in this place, she be concerned that I wasn't properly grieving and letting God actually heal me. That blew my mind. She wasn't trying to rush my process, she was encouraging me to take my time and to let myself off the hook for not bouncing back the way I've always done. She gently reminded me, what I normally tell others, that God is in the pain and in the mess and He's working it all out. He's not angry with me for not tackling my running to-do list that seems to never end. He's not frustrated with me for not washing my car, or not wanting to workout, or for the fact that I still find myself crying everyday and desperately grasping at Him like a frightened toddler. Truth is, I have been angry and frustrated with myself. And I have let how so many people see me influence that. I get frustrated at how weak I have become, and at how helpless and overwhelmed I feel. I've been angry that I can't rush the process. I used to be the "fixer". What do you do when you feel broken and can't fix even yourself?
You find God and His grace in ways you never have before. You let Him pick you up and hold you. You are his kid after all. I have been in a place of holy unraveling. Completely coming undone and slowly finding myself at the end of my rope where God's hands are waiting. Yes He's still telling me to be strong and courageous. He's still teaching me to fight and stand, but in a completely different way. Finally accepting that, and even just realizing it, let's me breathe a little better. So here's to grace. To grace with myself. To letting myself off my own hook of performance and perfectionism. To shutting out all the advice to push harder and "do". Here's to yielding to the process and resting in His hands.