Thursday, April 23, 2015

How To Live When You Just Can't

On Monday, I blogged bright and early, on top of my game. But I couldn't finish it. I clicked "save" and thought yes, I'll come back. I didn't.

On Tuesday, I blogged in the afternoon. Again, it wasn't going as I expected. I saved again.

On Wednesday, the writing didn't even make it out of my head, nor did the pictures I had been planning to take for a Yarn Along post ever happen.

A sweet reader emailed me - "It's been a long time since your last post - is the baby on it's way?" Oh, I wish. Or don't. And that pretty much sums up this week for me.

This week, for some reason, everything seems to have come to a head. Physical discomfort. Lack of sleep. Parenting challenges. Marriage stress. Crippling anxiety. My eyes stay red rimmed and raw throughout, a curious feeling for a girl who is a self proclaimed non crier. Oh, I've cried. I've sobbed. Big heartbreaking, body wracking sobs up on my bed with concerned toddlers gathered, gently patting my arm. "Ok Mama? You happy?"

A friend brings me dinner. I'm apologetic. Nothing is really even wrong, but I just can't. She reminds me of God's great love and constant presence. I know these things. I believe these things. And yet, I feel shattered in a million pieces, fractured splinters spilled all over the house.

The smallest hiccups set me off. A pair of sandals arrive that I ordered for the summer and are a touch too small. I burst into tears at the prospect of the return process. The toddler knocks something over in the fridge and it spills over the floor I just mopped. I'm undone. One of the kids and I lock horns over something silly and minute. He cries, and then I do. I tell my husband that everything, everything is wrong. Everything is broken. Everything is awful, especially me. And while I know those tricky hormones are the culprit, I can't help but believe it.

It's Girl's Night and I lean against the counter and watch the clock. "I know it will be good for me to go, but I'm just so tired." My husband doesn't respond. He's been here before. Sometimes I decide to stay in, falling asleep on the couch with knitting on my lap. Sometimes I decide to go - and it's always worth it. I say "I'll probably be back early" and he doesn't comment on that, either. Because it has never happened. Not once. I go, lugging that ancient sewing machine with me - and it turns out it's just what I needed.

I find peace at my best friend's kitchen table, noshing on chocolate and sewing quilt squares past midnight. I slip into the circle of my people, and I feel it for the first time all week. Comfort. I'm soothed by the predictability of our conversations, of knowing their opinions before they are said. In this place I know and am known. I'm secure in who I am. I listen to some of my oldest friends laugh and it unlocks something in me, quells the anxiety that has been nipping at me all week.

It's not overt reassurance that does it. I don't even share everything hard about my week. It's the quiet, nurturing reminder that life always ebbs and flows and change is inevitable - but that's not always a bad, scary thing. I look around at these faces that I've known for decades and think about how far we've come. What we've been through and experienced. The miracle that is a friendship that has stood many tests, a lot of time and a litany of human flaws.

I drive home with a light heart. A song from highschool comes on the radio and I crank it up, flying over country roads in my Mama-of-many twelve passenger van, marveling at how God uses the ordinary stuff of life to bring comfort and joy. In unexpected places, He finds the right time and means to whisper truth into our lives, to refresh us and set us back on our feet. I didn't find peace in my Bible yesterday. Well intentioned reminders of God's goodness didn't do it, either. My heart was still a restless place of anxiety and sadness. What I needed was something more subtle. Something more comfortable. Something more - me.

How do you live when you just can't? Go to the place, the people, the processes that soothe your soul, even if they don't feel particularly spiritual. He has given you these gifts and will use them to bring you back to a place of strength.

He reached through the hum of a sewing machine, Reese's Peanut butter cups and my best friend's smile and calmed me right down. I slipped in my dark house after 1 am and felt, for the first time all week, able to do what was set before me. Even more so, excited for what comes next.

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  1. You are so right. When you are literally drowning, the best thing to do is just take a step away from it all, immersing yourself in what you enjoy -- not continuing to fret about what hurts -- and often it just washes away and you walk away invigorated, ready to enter into the fray once again with a freshness you couldn't achieve otherwise.

  2. It is a wonderful thing to have your momma friends. Old friends, new friends, who know you. Praise God. We have moved so much and so far from anyone truly knowing me other than my mom who is a phone call away and my husband who is just as broken as I am and who can't always comfort like a woman friend could. But when I can't anymore, when my own pats on the back aren't enough, I just break down in front of God. I surrender to the hard, to the tears, to the "please dear Lord Jesus, help me, because I can't." And He does, everytime. I can't give you examples of the ways He picks this crumpled child mess up and dries the tears and washes me and holds me...but I feel it and know He does.

  3. Oh, bless you, Lydia. I'm so glad you shared this. I am having this kind of week right this very minute (and all the minutes since Sunday evening). I'm so glad you found some solace. I just finished writing apology notes to each of my children for yelling at them before nap time, and I'm going to rest until they wake up and hope for a reset button for the afternoon.


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