Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Burn Out

I thought I could do this.

I should've known. I can't

Right now, in all honesty I need a shot of humility. I need a gallon of grace. And I need a good kick in the pants.

I keep hearing a voice in the back of my head asking, "Who cut in on you? You were running a good race."

That kind of persuasion does not come from the one who calls you. (Galatians 5:7-8)

I'm feeling overwhelmed. Overstimulated. Distracted. And yet, I feel needed. Necessary. I am back in the "job" saddle and I have to say it feels GREAT.

If I blatantly honest, I wonder if I am feeling the pull of improper persuasion like Paul talks about in Galatians.

Because for the last 3 years I have been a mom. A FULL TIME mom with some side-work thrown in there when I felt like I should exercise the typing muscles I used to have. 

And now, I am still a stay at home mom, but I actually have a boss on the other end of those emails. I actually have been reintroduced to the hierarchy of results-matter work. I answer to someone now.

But I can not forget who I ultimately answer to.

It's the kind of persuasion that lures me away from my kids to check my inbox for the umpteenth time in an hour or respond to an "important" email that isn't nearly as pressing as my ego makes it out to be.

It is my inner persuader. It is my sin. It is my desire to gain the whole world and lose my soul. It's the oldest trick in the book.

It's that kind of persuasion that lights up my brain when I imagine all of the cool things I am going to do now that I have a label. Now that I am not just 'mom'. Now that I have, what I call my dream job.

It's only been a week and a half.

Let me repeat.

It's has only been 8 working days.

And in that short amount of time, I feel like my heart has been run away with by a trillion stallions. And I realize that I have been in a desert and I have been spiritually thriving. I have been existing on morsels of manna from God to get through every humbling struggle I face as a mom with two little kids. And because of that, I have been experiencing the painful process of growth.

And now? I am in danger of having found a new savior. I am tempted to melt down my newfound gold to fashion calves in the wilderness. I am in danger of redirecting my worship.

Because it's addicting. This accomplishment thing. It's like "Ahhh, that's what purpose feels like. I remember now."

But it's not purpose that I'm feeling swallowed by- not in the way God intended me to be purposed anyhow.

30If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks? 31Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

It's the hollow shell of a title that will ultimately give me glory that I'm allowing to fill the cracks in my soul. Those cracks that God gave me so I would turn to Him are now being ignored by distraction. By persuasion. By my own desire to do a good job.

And yes, I should be a good worker. I am a witness no matter if I am changing diapers or changing an editorial layout. So yes, I need to be efficient. Honest. Uphold my end of the bargain.

But my new normal means that I am over the moon and heartbroken all within moments of each other.

I make forward progress at "work" with my eyes glued to the screen, but missed my son teetering on the edge of the couch before he tumbled off. I landed a really cool product for placement, but didn't get to sit on the floor making my daughter smile without watching the clock.

This is a new balance that I need to work on. I am like a wave tossed to and fro. I need to CTFD. (Calm The F* Down) I don't endorse use of the F word, but when someone's right, they're right.)

But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.

I believe this new development in my work/life balance is a part of God's plan. So I need to keep Him in the middle of it. Be sensitive to where he leads. Seize the moments I need to and let the others ones go. This is a new ball thrown in the air.

In case you didn't know, my husband can juggle. Not in the metaphorical sense, but in the 'I-may-wear-shoes-with-bells-on-the-toes-and-go-to-rennaisiance-fairs' way. He can literally juggle. When I asked him how he learned to do it in the first place, he said that he had to keep his back against the wall, because his natural tendency was to follow the balls lead and that's when you make mistakes and drop them.

If you anchor yourself against something that doesn't move; something that doesn't change- you can then focus on all of the things you have to keep in motion.

Ok, swish. That's the truth I've been needing to hear. When learning to juggle I need to find the wall. The unchanging God I know and love.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

Gosh, I know I am so dramatic. I know that once I settle down into this space I won't be so crazy out of it. I know I won't forget to eat, I won't forget to brush my teeth, I won't try to breastfeed while drafting an email to the publicity department at Nordstrom's. I will settle down.

But I don't want to miss this chance to learn something about myself.

I am only one great opportunity away from thinking I don't need God. We all are.

I am not strong. I am weak.

I am not qualified, I am a vessel He chooses to use.

I am not great, He is just so amazingly good.

He is trying to give me the desires of my heart- and I need to be mature enough to not bastardize that gift.

This is a warning letter to myself.

Knock it off. Go love on your kids. Get in the word. Get off your high horse. Kiss your husband. Stop drinking Diet Coke to keep your eyes open.

Relax. Have a glass of wine. Kiss that sexy man who is wearing your daughter in the Baby Bjorn on the lips. Give long hugs. And laugh. A lot.

Above all, once this transition from stay-at-home-mom to working-stay-at-home mom is complete, I want to make sure I had my priorities straight from the get go.

God comes first. Your family second. And yourself, that needs to always be dead last. Serve like crazy.

Just don't bow down to ego and the dollar because they make you feel important.

I am burnt out- thank God. Because it brings me back to Him.

And so I will smolder in thankfulness. He turns ashes to beauty. Or so I'm told.

" bestow on them a crown of beauty
    instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
    instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
    instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
    a planting of the Lord
    for the display of his splendor."

Isaiah 61:3

Friday, August 9, 2013

The Bottom of the Sugar Bowl

A couple of days ago I woke up in desperate need of my morning coffee. (Okay, okay-- I am in desperate need of morning coffee every morning...and afternoon...and sometimes at 5pm).

But what made this morning different was that I quickly discovered I was at the bottom of the sugar bowl. Peering down into the crystal-flecked container that still held the sparkle of sugar lost, I felt like Winnie the Pooh in one of his fumbled attempts as snagging the lost drop of honey.

There is nothing more deflating that staring at my steaming cup of a.m. Joe knowing that in its naked form I just don't care for the taste. 

Yes, I was born and raised in the Starbucks capital of the nation. Yes, I love coffee. Yes, I love the smell. But alas, "you're not hard core unless you live hard core" and I am so not hard core. (Thanks, Jack Black). But unlike the comedian I just can't drink my coffee that way.

And in realizing that, I was suddenly hit with an unattractive understanding that I have a hard time removing all the extras in my life and in my faith that seem to make it go down easier. I am constantly trying to sweeten the pot. I am habitually trying to manipulate the facts in order to make it easier to digest.

I was lucky enough to listen to Jeff Vanderstelt of Soma church speak last weekend. He stripped down some very fundamental truths about Christian living that felt very much like a straight shot of espresso. No filter. No sugar. No pretty wrapping. Just black.

One Christian word that has always needed some sweetening for me is repentance.

I don't get it. Or, I guess I should say I didn't understand it, until it was explained to me by Jeff.

I mean how can you repent of something that you know you will do again even when you truly put your best efforts into never, ever even thinking about doing it again?

And then I heard this, "Repentance isn't a change in behavior- it's not turning away and not feeling that way anymore. Repentance is a change in belief about God."

He went on to further explain that we will continually forget about God and his good nature everyday. We will  always question whether He knows what he is doing or not. But instead of focusing on the behavior we need to address the unbelief. We need to confess that we don't believe God is who He says He is. We need to own the fact that we believe we can do it better.

We need to confess that we try to dilute the taste of truth. We don't like it straight. We want to doctor it up to meet our needs to fit into our lifestyle. I do this, everyday.

And so we need to tell Him that everyday. We need to confess. We need to cut out the fluff. We need to stop trying to function on caffeine and willpower. We need to cut out the craving for the sugar high. We need to focus on the root problem of unbelief. We need to say out loud that we doubt His loving nature towards us.

I recently applied for a job as an associate editor at a local magazine. After reading the specs for the position, I desperately wanted it. The most part-time of all part-time positions, the job also offered the ability to work from home and stay with my two littles under 3. It would allow me to dive into feature writing and work with some of the best freelance writers and photographers in my area as well as get connected to the heartbeat of my community. It felt tailor made for me.

And do you know what I did when I applied for it? I didn't think God wanted me to get it. 

Do you know how I reacted when I interviewed for the position and was waiting to hear back? I doubted that God wanted to give me the desires of my heart. 

Do you know what I said moments before the call came in that I had indeed got the job? "I just keep getting doors slammed in my face. I guess God just wants me here. I have a sinking feeling I didn't get it. I should have heard by now." On and on and on.


Master doubter. Royal doubtess. UNBELIEF about my good God.

And no, not every desire of our heart is right for us. There were many doors that I knocked on before this that swung shut immediately. Many. There have been several moments of "almost" for me-- all of which ended in an abrupt no with no explanation. But I have to believe all of that is for my good. Every no is saving you for the right yes.

So ask yourself the next time you're doubting his goodness.

WHO is my God?

WHAT has He done?

And what does that say about WHO I AM? (Thanks Jeff! Once again.)

It all boils down to identity. If our identity stems from that all-gracious, all-powerful, all-beautiful throne of God, we can't help but be thrust into the sweet life of His plan for us.

If we are looking for substitutes, trying to create something all on our own, or don't believe he truly cares about our every day lives- we make Him a liar.

And so just that one morning I drank my coffee black. I didn't truly enjoy it- but it reminded me that sometimes the truths that are the hardest to swallow are the ones that are best for us.

We're in this together,