Tag Archives: overwhelmed

The failure of trying to be everyone’s person

I’m going through a phase right now where I feel like I’m constantly failing. I say it’s a phase for two reasons: 1. I’ve been in this place before, and 2. I trust God to never let me stay here for too long.

The problem really isn’t so much about failure to accomplish goals or tasks (although there is an element of that). The problem lies in my desire to be everyone’s person.

The mom who shows up for every game, concert, and recital for my kids while also making healthy meals, helping them study and prepare for school, predicting their needs, comforting their hurts, and creating space to snuggle, cuddle or talk about life so they always feel connected to me.

The wife who prays for her husband daily, offers an empathetic ear when he’s had a bad day, acts as his biggest cheerleader, supportive of all of his endeavors and interests, all while trying not to be too needy or selfish with my own stuff.

The employee who thinks creatively and innovatively, never misses a deadline, maintains 100% focus while at work and doesn’t let her personal life interfere with her work life.

The daughter/niece/sister/grand-daughter who remembers to call, to visit regularly, to send those thank-you notes, to let everyone know how much they mean to her.

The friend who listens, who shows up with soup when you’re sick, and prays with you when you’re struggling. Who remembers to call or send a text to say “good luck at that interview/doctor’s appointment/meeting/etc.” Who never cancels lunch plans, or misses out on celebrating a big life event.

The women’s ministry leader who makes every woman who walks through the doors of that church feel welcomed and loved. Who prays for each woman by name, knows who is struggling and needs help, and makes time for coffee, to offer up encouragement and friendship to each woman, and always says just the right thing.

Some days I get some of the things right with some of the people. But most days I just get it all wrong and feel like I’ve failed all of the people. The forgetful friend, the frazzled mom, the tired wife, the absent daughter, the rushed ministry leader, the distracted employee. None of it feels good.

And the thing is, I don’t do any of it for a pat on the back or praise and thanks. I do it because I’m a relational person. I value relationships immensely and I’m incredibly grateful for each relationship and role I’ve been blessed with in life.

I genuinely love people (yes, introverts can love people, too). I especially love the people in my life. For so many years I felt terrible loneliness so I don’t take it for granted that I have all of these beautiful people in my life. When I think of how much I love them it knocks the wind right out of me and I want them — want you — to know it.

But instead, what ends up happening is inevitably someone feels left out. They feel slighted, shorted, overlooked, or forgotten. Or they don’t. But because there isn’t enough time for me to invest in the relationship the way I want to, they move on. They can’t wait for me to make time, so they find someone who can.

So here I sit. In this place of fear and worry of disappointing and failing them all. But even more so, I sit with fear of being left behind. That I tried to do so much I was left with nothing.

Then all of the thoughts come: I should have said yes to that; I should have said no to that; I should have called her back sooner; I should have double checked that date; I should have gotten more done yesterday; I should have gotten more rest last night; I should have stayed up later; I should have…

It’s overwhelming. It can be paralyzing. It makes me tired.

So, so tired.

Just before my head hits the pillow I read my daily devotional and it speaks like it was written just for me at this exact moment. God’s voice comes through the words on the page and says, “yep, life is pretty crazy right now. I know you don’t like it this way. I know you do better when everything is neat and orderly. I know you feel overwhelmed and like you are failing. I know you are worried people will leave you or be angry. I know.

But I’m here. You can’t do it all by yourself. You have to trust me. I will help you. I will comfort you and give you rest. I will help guide you on what to do next. I will never leave you to do it all alone.”

For a few moments I have peace. I am able to sleep.

Until the morning when it starts all over again.

Thankfully God has an infinite supply of patience.

Thankfully He never lets me stay stuck here for too long.

 

photo credit: Silvia Sala  via photopin (license)

The Ugly Truth of an Overwhelmed Mom and Resentful Wife

It’s 10:30 p.m. and I’m exhausted.

The kids have been in bed for an hour, and my husband is asleep on the couch next to me. I shut down the laptop, turn off the TV, and pick up the cordless house phone to put in the charger. I am aware that if I don’t remember to do this tonight we won’t have use of our home phone the next day because someone has used the other handset, forgotten to put it back, and now it’s lost with a dead battery, somewhere in my house.

I pass by the dog’s food dish and see the child responsible for feeding her did not refill the water bowl, so I stop to fill it. I start to climb the steps to the upstairs, picking up a lost sock, a forgotten toy, and dirty dish towel along the way. With each step I climb, I feel the resentment growing inside of me.

Once upstairs I head to the kitchen to pick up the now cold dinner still sitting in the crockpot. As I open the fridge to find room for the container of leftovers, I see three other containers of uneaten leftovers taking up needed space because no one else will think to throw them out.

As I cross back through the living room, I pick up dirty tissues, forgotten school papers, and half-empty cups. I trip over a pair of tennis shoes left in the middle of the floor and turn off all the lights that were left ablaze after children went to bed.

And the bitterness sets in. The resentment is flaming.

Once in my bedroom I find all the items on my sink that one or more children used without asking, without putting away. I sigh, get undressed, wash my face, fill my humidifier, and think the only thing I want to do in that moment is climb into bed with my book so I can escape into another world, into someone else’s life. Because in this moment of exhaustion and raw emotion, my very real thought is, “I don’t want this anymore.”

Moments later, my husband joins me in our room, moving his sleepy body from the couch to the bed. He looks at me, hears my curt “goodnight” and asks if I’m mad at him. “No.” I reply.

“Is there something wrong?” he asks. I pause, waiting to see if common sense and decency win out over fatigue and resentment. Finally, I say, “I’m just not in a good place at the moment. I’d rather not talk about it.”

He pauses, trying to decide if more should be said, if he should probe. Probably waiting to see if common sense and decency win out over his own fatigue and frustration. Finally, he goes to sleep.

I’m left with my own thoughts and feelings, unable to concentrate on my book. And it is then that I realize it is not my family or my marriage or my head that is not in a good place, it’s my heart.

Because the truth is—the big-picture, unselfish truth—is that this man lying next to me had cooked that dinner I picked up off the counter. He had gone grocery shopping to buy the ingredients the day before, and helped me in the drop-off, shuttle, pick-up routine of daily life with kids. He had worked all day in a job that is physically exhausting and often emotionally draining.

The truth is, he is a true partner in this parenting gig, and shares much of the household load with me. And he never, ever expects me to do any of it alone.

The truth is those kids, asleep in their beds, they’re pretty good kids. They all have chores they do (mostly) without complaining each day and week. They have been taught that we are a family and everyone pitches in. They are responsible for their own laundry, picking up after themselves, doing homework, and taking care of pets.

The truth is they are usually gracious and thankful.

The truth is when I’m away from my family I miss them. They are what I think of most. I can’t wait to hear about their days—how did she do on that test? How did he do at the game? How did the meeting with the boss go? They are my heart walking around on four pairs of legs and I love them so much more than that word can express.

But beneath these truths, resentment bubbles to the surface and I let it sit there as I become consumed by frustration and overwhelmed by responsibility. Frustrated that they have to be asked and reminded. Overwhelmed by how much they all look to me to take the lead. I am the director, the scheduler, the planner, the seer, the doer, the organizer, and the manager.

Why don’t they remember to turn off the lights, and pick-up their shoes, and run the dishwasher, and sweep up the spilled cat food without being asked?

Why do I have to remind them to shower, and wash clothes, and feed pets, and return that phone call, and make that appointment, and walk the dog?

Why can’t they see the missing sock, the dirty tissue, the empty water bowl, the moldy leftovers and want to take care of it without my prompting?

And as these thoughts swirl through my head I know, without a doubt, it’s a heart problem. More accurately, it’s my heart problem.

Because love is patient (even when reminding a 12-year-old for the 547th time to feed the cat before school).

Because love is kind (even when discovering there are no clean dishes because my husband forgot to run the dishwasher the night before).

Because love does not envy (even when I see the young, childless married couple with their perfectly clean, Joanna and Chip Gaines-inspired home, and all their free time).

Because love does not boast or exhibit pride (even when I am the one who has washed the last 12 loads of laundry without a single thank you).

Because love is not self-seeking. And this is really what it comes down to. Am I a mother and wife because of what I expect to get out of it? Or am I a mother and a wife because of what I want to contribute to it? If it’s the latter, if I truly want to invest in these little lives, in this marriage, then I need to remember that comes with service. It comes with a willingness to give of myself and my talents to these people I love so much.

If my heart is full of love, real love (patience, kindness, without envy or pride, free from self-seeking), then there cannot be room for resentment and bitterness.

 

This post also appeared on Her View From Home.

 

Shutting down and shutting out

I shut the door to my son’s room to muffle the sound of his screaming and crying from the other side, promising me he’d be a good listener if I would just please not send him to bed early.

I shut off the light in the kitchen so I wouldn’t have to see the sink full of dirty dishes and the stack of recycling waiting to be taken out.

I shut the lid to my laptop, deciding the 65 unread messages would have to wait another day and the blog post I’d been working on for days would go another night unfinished, unpublished.

I walked into my bedroom and shut the door on the unvacuumed floors, and unfinished science fair projects scattered from one end of the room to the other.

Then I lay on my bed and shut my eyes, wanting to shut out the day, the world.

And I heard a whisper deep within my soul “don’t shut me out, too.”

Here’s the thing: sometimes my day-to-day life feels like too much for me to handle and all I want to do is shut-down and pull the covers over my head. This week was one of those weeks. I felt like I was drowning in a sea of dirty dishes and conference calls. By Wednesday I was too tired to keep my head above water. That was the night I shut my bedroom door and, with tired body and depleted soul, collapsed into bed, hoping to escape from everyone and everything on the other side of that door.

But in those first moments after my head hit the pillow and I started to slip into self-pity, I heard God’s voice: “don’t shut me out, too.” And it was then that I realized I had not let God into my week. I had been so caught up in the long list of “to-do’s” I had failed to invite God into my messy kitchen, or cluttered family room for a visit. I didn’t ask Him to look at my full calendar or flooded inbox and give me guidance. Honestly, I don’t know if it was because I was so caught-up in my own “stuff” that I forgot to seek Him or if it was because a part of me felt like these little daily stresses were not important enough to take to Him. Maybe a little of both. But I can tell you that as soon as I realized what I had done, I felt a bit foolish.

In Isaiah chapter 41 God says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand…For I hold you by your right hand—I, the LORD your God. And I say to you, ‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.'” (Isaiah 41: 10, 13, NLT)

Don’t you just love the imagery of God’s very words to His people? I read these verses and I can just feel Him by my side, wanting to be there and to comfort me.

I feel like I’m drowning in chores and work and parenting demands and God says “I will hold you up.” I feel like I am weak with fatigue and worry and He says “I will strengthen you and help you.” I am lost and unsure what to do next or how to get it all done and He says come, I will “hold you by your right hand” and lead you. I want to shut out the world and pull the covers over my head and He whispers, “Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”

Isaiah 41:13

We are taught in Sunday school that there is nothing too big for God to handle, but we must remember there is nothing too small for Him either. He wants to be invited in to our messy house and our messy life. He wants to sit next to us and have a good long look at that “to-do” list and help us prioritize. He wants to hold our hand and help us take deep breaths when our children are throwing temper-tantrums.

My friends, whatever you are struggling with, whatever has you feeling drained and bested, don’t hide from it behind closed doors. I encourage you to invite God to come along side of you. Because there’s nothing He can’t handle…even dirty dishes.