Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Just Ask Me

Ask me how to get through… just ask me. Ask me how to survive, when the aching in my heart is so loud, deafening in my ears.  So many people think the roar is outside: the turmoil is some circumstance that pounds me down in the ground. We laid two loved ones to rest, this year alone, and just within months of one another. The dust from the others we laid to rest has not even settled. But that’s not the problem. The storm out there is not the problem. It’s the storm in my head that is the problem. IT’s the dust of a lifetime of injury and the most damaging injuries are the ones I’ve done to myself.

How do I get through? Just ask me…

1 I’ve decided to stop “just surviving.”
This kind of thinking plagues me. I am in crisis mode all the time and it leads to bad decisions.  I have decided to make decisions as if I’m sitting in a beach chair at an all-expenses-paid resort and I’m watching  someone else’s kid play, blissfully in the sand.

2 I turn my back on the mess
Just now, not five minutes ago, I cleared the clutter off a spot on the table and piled it up in a corner on the desk. I picked up my lap top,  put it in the cleared spot, and turned my back on the mess. This is not a permanent fix. Tomorrow I will do the hard work of cleaning up the mess, but today I need space. I need space to process and reflect and REST. I need to be still and listen to God speak. For just a moment. This is beyond my personal tendencies. I want everything fixed and cleaned up and Pinterest perfect NOW. Obviously God has other plans for me.

3 I accept how God made me
I don’t have a lot of energy. I’ve tried to seek medical help and nutritional help and LOTS of Christian counseling. I’ve decided that God gave some women small hips and breasts. Others he gave big hips and breasts. Some women he gave tons of energy and some he gave very little. Some women are strong and independent. I admire them so much! I am clingy and dependent on my husband.
Maybe, just maybe, that is how God made me: a weak, fragile vessel. Who am I to say to the potter, “What have you made?”? I turn my back on the mess, sit down in my beach chair, and tell God how thankful I am that he made me the WAY he made me.

4 I take an objective look at my sin
I am here confessing my sin and asking God to cleanse me. I am not going to stay here and whip myself for the next month because I had a moment of weakness. But I believe it is important to recognize that we have moments of weakness. Otherwise, we become hardened to sin. David prayed, “Lord reveal to me any wickedness in me.” I have to pray that prayer to keep from developing pet-sins.

5 I set boundaries with other people
The older I get, the more I realize how much other’s problems affect me. I want to manage everyone. I want my grown children to make good decisions. I want my friends to be happy and well cared for. We women give and give and drain ourselves (literally) for goodness sake. We are good and we want to help as much as we can, even at the expense of our own well-being and (sometimes) sanity.

I recently went on a retreat in a remote area on a plateau that required those attending to drive up a steep gravel drive way. That drive way was very long and well maintained. The owner of the facility spent some time trying to figure out how to send the ladies a different route to the back gate on paved roads. The problem was that GPS programs always sent driver to the front gate.  

I asked the owner, “Are you worried that people’s cars won’t make it up the drive way?” He explained that most people, even if they had four-wheel-drive, were not used to driving on gravel and when they reached a steep spot they would spin their tires and dig in before climbing further. After a few people have experienced this, the integrity of the drive becomes compromised. If forty cars do the same thing, eventually there will have to be a repair to the road. Nothing bad would happen to the driver or the car but he wanted to preserve the integrity of the road. After all the other route wasn’t much more time. It was just harder to find.

I feel that we are being used by God to help people climb up in life. Most people don’t really know how to navigate relationships well. Many times we get stuck in a relationship and are spinning our wheels. I have a hard time with boundaries. I really have a hard time letting someone go and telling them that they can reach that place of restoration but they are gonna have to take the long route to the back gate. Because sitting there, letting someone spin their wheels on me, is damaging to me. They might be helped by me but the price is too high. If I want to be available to help others, I have recognize those who are spinning out and let them take a different route.

The hard thing is: many people do make those bad decisions you feared they would make. Many women did get lost trying to find the back gate. We have to be able to let people make their own mistakes!

6 I try to remember that setting boundaries is NOT climbing in a hole
I have been hurt and I withdrew from all my friends for a time. This is going from one extreme to the next. We have to have friends. We have to work through hard spots with our families! Some of us with different personality types need less or more friends and less or more time with people. We all need to make an effort to have the relationships that we need to have.

That means accepting people who are not perfect. That means forgiving people. Forgiving someone does not always mean being their best friend or even close friend again. It doesn’t mean inviting your abuser to dinner. We have to engage people without letting them dig their wheels into us. What if my friend was so worried about the retreat center’s driveway, that he closed the doors forever? No, we find a way to help people while maintaining our own emotional and mental wellbeing.

Right now, I am trying to help you stop spinning your wheels by sharing what I am doing to get traction. Do I have it all figured out? No. I just know that this is a moment to pay attention to what is right. It’s easy to figure out what is wrong. Takes some intentional introspection to figure out what is right. 

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