doing it badly until…

Posted: May 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

I was serving at camp – a great cause:  ministry to abused and neglected foster kids.  The other volunteers – my teammates – were people I liked.  People whose sense of humor and priorities match mine.  Unpretentious, practical, hard-working, outside-the-box to varying degrees folks.  The mission was a cause after God’s own heart:  serving what are effectively this culture’s “orphans.”  For sure I was where I was supposed to be.

Still, I was struggling.  I felt like a failure – not once in awhile, but just about every moment of the camp.  It seemed like everyone else was working harder than me, and the judgy little voice inside of me announced repeatedly that people were tired of me not pulling my weight.  It looked like everyone else naturally knew what to do, and I always felt like I was scrambling to figure out my role.  At my regular job I’m accustomed to feeling confident and competent – to regularly earning the praise of my peers.  At camp I felt like I exemplified that rude saying:  not the brightest bulb in the box.  My usual awkwardness seemed to multiply itself exponentially.

That was the first year we did it.

I came back the second year anyway.  Despite feeling like a failure, I’d had more fun than not, and what we were doing was some of the most important work there is.  Also, here in middle age I mostly know not to give that judgy little voice inside me much credence – she’s mostly a big fat liar (see what I did there – judged her back – TAKE THAT!)

The second year was like the first year for me, only worse, when it came to the judgy little inner voice and the general feeling of inadequacy.  I knew what it was – the enemy of our souls for sure DOES NOT want us doing things like lavishing love upon these kids.  This was spiritual warfare.  I prayed and pushed through, remembering that the work I was doing was FOR the kids and ABOUT the kids – so, no need to make it about my emotional insecurity.  I stepped up and over the crisis of feelings, and I got through the week.  Afterward, I once again found myself ready – eager, even – to come back the next year.  It was just too good to miss, even if my fears were true and I really WAS the lamest member of the team.

A wonderful development occurred while we were planning the third year’s camp:  our director shared her frustration with all of the administrative work, and how it kept her away from the kids too much during camp week.  That needed to change.  I practically threw myself across the table at her as I volunteered myself to pick up what she needed to lay down.  That’s how I found my sweet spot at camp – year three was glorious for me.  I knew my purpose.  I understood my tasks.  No, I wasn’t perfect.  But I was confident and excited and looking at every turn for ways to do one of my very favorite things:  improve processes.  I no longer felt like a failure while serving at camp.

Now, we’re preparing for our fourth camp later this summer.  All year I’ve been looking over my stuff and looking for ways to make it work better.  The work is sheer pleasure.

Here’s the thing:  I am so glad I didn’t quit after the first or second camp.  At a younger age, I might have been tempted to do so.  We perfectionists/type A personalities are not pleased when we hit areas where we can’t seem to do anything right.  That discomfort was pretty acute the first year, and I’d quantify it as downright desperate the second.  A younger me would’ve decided that I just wasn’t gifted for this ministry, and would have signed up for something that fit my giftings better.  Why keep on feeling uncomfortable?

Some years ago, I heard a pastor’s wife telling about how, in her younger years, she had been saddled with some duties that came with the role that she just couldn’t do well.  She wasn’t gifted in those ways.  She was bad at the stuff that needed done.  But the role was hers, and there was no one else to fill it at the time.  So she resolved that if a job really needs done and is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly until one can either improve or find her replacement.  She shared about doing it badly for as long as it took, and purposing to do it badly with good cheer, knowing that she was doing the best she could.

That lesson has come back to me many times over the years, and has proven its value again and again.  This was one of those cases.  I don’t know if I WAS bad at camp those first two years (if so, people were too nice to say so); I only know that I FELT like a crashing failure.  I persisted because the work was of value, and I was giving it my best.  (For me, ever the straight A student, I took it as a lesson in how it must feel to be someone who gives their all to barely scratch by on a D+.)

In this particular case, I got better, not because my skills improved but because a role opened up that suited me.  Right or wrong, I understand that as a reward given to me because I persevered through the hard part.  Knowing what I’m doing feels WAY better than showing up to give my best while feeling like I am a giant turd.

In other cases, I haven’t always gotten better.  Sometimes I’ve served my time and then blessedly, someone with better skills comes along and takes over, much to my relief.

Either way, let me be clear:  IT IS WORTH THE DISCOMFORT.  Let me encourage you:  if you feel like you aren’t smart/skilled/cool enough to do something that you know is a right thing to do…do it anyway.  Just do it.  Do it badly, if that’s the best you have to offer.  Let God decide whether you’ll grow into the position or be replaced.

Either way, my experience is that great rewards come for the willingness to be of use.

 

If you’ve been around the blog awhile, perhaps you recall that the camp I’m referring to is our local Royal Family Kids Camp.  This is a week-long camp for abused and neglected foster kids (a round-the-clock/sleepover camp, not a day program) that takes all year to plan and over $30,000 to finance.  We still need 3 more male counselors – if you know someone who might fit the bill, let me know!  You’ll have to contact me here or in person, as I’m off Facebook still until June 1.

Today is day 19 of my month away from Facebook, Netflix, and sugar.  I’ve had easy 100% compliance on the Netflix ban.  I’ve accidentally ended up on Facebook a number of times, when not paying enough attention while Googling something, but when I’ve landed there, I’ve left quickly without peeking around to see what I’m missing, so I’m counting that as full compliance.  Sugar – I’ve done okay.  I haven’t DELIBERATELY eaten any added sugar, but there have been a couple of occasions when I’ve realized after eating that  – d’oh! that had sugar in it!  I’ve noticed each time that my body quickly responds with an almost immediate demand for more food, more food, more sugar, more food.  The switch in my brain has a hair trigger on it, apparently.

Though I spent a lot of time objecting in advance to this fast, and still more time complaining about it in the first days of it, I’m finally done complaining about it.  Those who know me well might be able to guess why I’m done complaining:  I finally got a glimpse of what God is up to with this little experiment.  It finally makes some kind of sense to me.

I have reached the zone of gratitude.

Because I am off of Facebook and Netflix, I was tuned in enough to catch a message in my email that I would’ve skipped (I KNOW I would’ve skipped, as I’ve been skipping all mail from this sender for several years now).  I opened and read, and it took me trotting right down an unexpected path.  I followed the path, and find it leading to an open door into a space that makes my heart beat a little faster.  I have a project before me now that I’m not ready to blog about today, but it is SO exciting.  If I’m going to push into this project, I’m almost certainly going to have to either continue the fast well beyond May, or at least re-approach those “screen distractions” in a severely limited fashion, going forward.

I didn’t expect that.  I wouldn’t have asked for that or wanted that.  But what I’m pressing toward is alluring enough that at this point I don’t mind.

And that, my friends, is how God so often works with me.  I can’t say how God works for everyone else, but for ME, when I obey the subtle promptings He gives me (even – perhaps ESPECIALLY – when I do so under great duress and protest), then He brings me to a reordering that I haven’t expected and wouldn’t have wanted, but am delighted to have discovered.

It’s exciting stuff.  Makes me glad I followed the prompting on this fast, even while it made me want to cuss and stomp my feet.

a planner to slow down?

Posted: May 15, 2017 in Uncategorized

I have a new planner.  I saw an ad for it on Facebook in April, and I marked the homepage.  Immediately after beginning my May fast, I raced over to that page and ordered the planner.  It’s a pretty unique one, being only 13 weeks long.  It is shaped around setting goals and then walking them out.  Somehow it felt like the right thing to have on hand while I am in this weird unplugged zone.

The planner requires me to sit down every evening and evaluate my today, and then do a bit of sketching out for tomorrow – I have instructions to account for every bit of my time in advance.  The advice given notes that this doesn’t mean “no breaks” or “no free time” – it just means I handle these things with intention.  I schedule them in.  This is to help me avoid just wasting time in a way that will leave me with regret later.  It also requires me to sit down every morning and spell out some specifics:  an overarching goal for the day.  A set of 3 target tasks.  And at both the morning and the evening session, it requires me to record 3 things for which I am grateful.

In addition to that, I had to start out the book choosing three 13-week goals of the S.M.A.R.T. variety, breaking down the sorts of tasks that should get me from here to there.  There are pages to evaluate entire weeks and checklists for easy recording of little things I want to do on a daily/regular basis.  Basically the folks who invented this journal went out and read all the best time/goal management books and put all the best ideas from all those books into this nifty journal.  Thus far, I’m very much a fan.  I can’t do the thing justice by describing it here; ask me to show it to you sometime (I’m ridiculously excited about it), or if you don’t know me, check it out here or here.

On one hand, the planner is helping me a lot with my tendency to procrastinate on projects that I don’t like.  Every day, I write chose one such item to place on my list of 3 targeted tasks, and because I’ve written it down, I almost always get it done that same day.  In this sense, the planner is making me MORE PRODUCTIVE, which was what I assumed I was going for.

On the other hand, the planner is teaching me quickly how much I ask too much of myself.  In the first week, most days I made a plan that was just too ambitious.  It didn’t account properly for how long tasks take me.  It wasn’t that I needed to step up my game, it was that I needed to stop trying to be a superhero.  I don’t have special powers.  I can’t move at the speed of light.  There are so many hours in a day, and that’s what I have to work with.

I have to tell you, I find it ironic that I seem to have purchased a planner to help me SLOW DOWN.  Don’t you think that’s the antithesis of what seems to be the purpose of a planner?  I think my functional medicine practitioner would approve, though.

Jumping off today into week 3, I am learning what a realistic day looks like.  I am starting to figure out how not to pile myself up so much that there will be no hope for success.  That’s counter-intuitive for me, as I have built myself an identity of “Karen Who Gets Stuff Done.”  It FEELS like aiming for less.  But really what it comes down to is beginning to get real about my time and my abilities.  Here’s the surprising thing to me:  it feels BETTER than my old/usual way of asking entirely too much of myself in order to try to get the most possible work done.  I’m working smarter, not harder – a thing I urge people to do all the time, but clearly hadn’t been practicing in reality.

Pretty good gift.  Pretty good place to focus on a Monday morning.  Let’s do this thing!

Something I hadn’t realized before jumping off into a month off of Facebook was how many different ways and times I’d be offered the opportunity to derail and get right back on.  While I’m not “jonesing for Facebook,” I am also not particularly thrilled with being away from it.  Funny then, how often I find that when I google a question, if I don’t pay attention, the link for the answer drives me to a Facebook page.  Over and over in the past 9 days I have found myself there, not because I TRIED to go there, but because I searched for something and didn’t pay enough attention before clicking.

Of course, once you’re on a FB page, even though it’s not your OWN page, you can immediately see how many notifications and messages you have.  My number was pretty spectacular, the last time I was inadvertently driven to a FB page by inattentive googling.  Happily for me, I’m not tempted to “just take a peek” when this happens.  I highlight and copy the information I’ve come for, making a point not to look around, and then I quickly make my exit.  Easy peasy.  I made a commitment.  It stands.

I also find myself unthinkingly trying to open FB when I’m on my phone for other purposes.  I moved the icon to a location that isn’t quickly available; countless times I have found myself absent-mindedly searching for it in its usual place without even realizing I was doing so.  So I guess I’m glad I moved the icon.  It’s surprising to me that I do that without even knowing it!

Apparently FB is not happy with my time away – it has now resorted to sending me emails.  “Did you notice the comment that so-and-so posted on her picture?”  “Have you checked out what your friend liked yesterday?”  On and on.  Most days there is an email trolling along in my inbox, trying to draw me back in.  I just chuckle and delete them, but it DOES occur to me that somebody out there – scratch that – that the people making money off of FB – really want me to be there.  Always.  Without interruption.

If all of this sounds hateful toward FB, trust me, that’s not my feeling.  I sure know a lot of good folks who have a lot of uncomplimentary (and potentially true, to some degree or the other) things about this form of social media.  As for me, I don’t hate Facebook.  It doesn’t stir envy up in me.  I don’t only see posers and pretenders there.  Yes, there is the possibility of wasting time and only being shallow there, but there is equally the possibility of connecting with faraway friends, of delving deep into interesting subjects, of expanding my horizons, and of using it for an awesome prayer tool.  Facebook is what you make of it.  You won’t find me hating on it.  Which is why I’m not impressed with being off of it for a month.

Yes, I am stubborn and silly enough to be arguing even as I know that I was very clearly led in prayer to take this month off.  I am following the lead.  I am looking earnestly for what I am supposed to be learning.  But am I of the “this is so freeing!” or “good riddance” type while fasting FB?  Nope, and nope.

Along the way I’m having an uncomfortable adventure.  I’m not only off of FB, I’m also off of Netflix and (processed/added) sugar.  That’s a whole lot of distractive/numbing agents off the table.  I am under the assumption that since God brought me here, He’s got some stuff to say to me.  I “happened” to hear this really excellent (though unwelcome) podcast, and then my pastor, “by coincidence,” recommended this pretty good (though deeply annoying) book as a highly unwanted follow-up (being the gracious church member that I am, I was pretty snarky with him about it the last time I saw him – sorry about that, dude!)  Both have spoken some truth to me that I don’t want to hear.

I love multitasking.  The truth is, though we think we rock at it, science shows we really can’t do it well at all.

I love bunny-hopping frenetically from task to task, with peeks at email and social media tucked in between hops, never lighting very long at any one location.  Studies show that this damages my brain’s ability to focus and think deeply.

I love filling the “boring” spaces of life (standing in line, time in the bathroom, etc.)  with drinking up reading on the internet.  What I’ve been learning says that if I never allow my brain those “boring” times, it will get so addicted to stimulation and entertainment that it won’t be bothered with doing hard work.

I.  HATE.  THIS.

I guess the best time and way to learn it is while I’m on this big not-my-idea fast.  In the midst of it, the connectedness of the messages coming at me is crystal clear.  I’m listening, I’m listening, I’m listening.  Complaining all along the way.  Working with all my might to work at least part of this out the way I want it to go.  Listening with a ‘tude.  But listening.

That’s good enough for now.  I’ll report more when there’s more to report.

 

There’s a giant group (2,000+ fairly local people) who hold 3-day weekend spiritual retreats a couple of times a year; I’ve been a part of that group since the weekend after my Melanoma surgery, something like fifteen years ago.  My first time at that retreat was and continues to be a major force in my own spiritual formation – I would not be the same me, had I not gone that first time.

From time to time, I get a call asking if I want to be on (volunteer) staff for the retreat this time around.  Sometimes I say yes; just about as often I turn the offer down, mostly because it’s a bit of a commitment and if you know me, you know I tend to have a lot of commitments all the time.  Since I don’t want to offer my half-effort, I only sign on when I can fully offer myself.

Truth:  sometimes I say no because I am legit over-committed in the moment.  Sometimes I say no because I’m tired or overwhelmed at the time of the call, and while I always stop to pray before the YES, I don’t always involve God in the decision for the NO.  For the record, that’s not the way following Jesus is supposed to work.  (And I’m aiming to do better on that front, the next time the call comes!)

Regardless of my lack of total faithfulness on this front, I continue to get invited to participate.  (Note:  the actual following of Christ is an abundantly merciful and gracious experience; if your experience of following Him hasn’t washed you over in mercy and grace, if your experience is harsh and filled with condemnation and demands for perfection, maybe you’re following a person or somebody’s idea and not actually Christ.)  I am home today resting up after one such weekend, filled to overflowing from what I gave, so full of gratitude that it’s leaking out of me at every turn.

Today I am freshly reminded that we NEED to serve and help others, if we want to experience all the great stuff God wants to give us.  I’ve known this for a long time.  I watched my parents modeling it as I grew up.  My 12-step journey hammered into me that failing to take what I’ve been given and give it to others is a step backward for me – a step away from health and joy and freedom and a step toward the forces that left me needing the 12 steps.  My biggest spiritual gift is teaching; I have discovered countless times that until I give of myself by teaching others a concept or a technique or whatever, I am missing a level of understanding of that thing.  Teaching something ALWAYS clarifies it for me, shows me deeper things about it, ties it in to other stuff I know, and clears away some of my insecurity or tentativeness about that thing.  I get it best when I give it away.

I guess that’s another “God’s economy” thing, this business of the necessity to give if one wants to fully receive.  By human logic, seeking, taking, and focusing harder on what one wants would seem to be the most efficient path forward.  I am so grateful that God’s economy doesn’t work like human logic, aren’t you?

My encouragement to you:  if life isn’t working for you, if you can’t get what you need, if you can’t figure out what the heck God wants from you:  start giving and stop looking so hard for that thing you need.  It’s probably hidden inside the giving.

My pastor wrote a pretty cool manifesto that is a good place to start, if you’re interested but unsure how to get going.  It can be found here.

 

If you linked to this blog through Facebook and want to tell me/ask me something about what I’ve written here, please leave your comment below.  I’m away from Facebook for the month of May 2017 and I won’t know you asked or said something if you post it over there until I return in June.  

a reluctant adventure

Posted: April 23, 2017 in Uncategorized

I’m revving up to step off into a little “adventure” that is not so much of my own choosing as a path I feel I’m being led down.  I am not excited about it.  I don’t want to do it at all.  I have tried pretending to myself that I can just ignore the leading, but it’s pretty persistent.  I have looked for ways to work around it, but I just keep getting brought back to it.

So, I guess I’ll do it.  I have moved from “hell no, let’s not even discuss the possibility” to kicking and screaming to passive resistance and now I’m at “okay fine, whatever, I’ll do it.”  I’d rather not, except for the simple truth that generally when I’m being led like this and I choose to yield to the leading, I don’t regret it in the end.  Scratch that – not generally.  ALWAYS.  I have never, ever regretted following when I’m being led in this fashion, but I have frequently regretted being a stubborn turd.  So here I am.

Here’s the deal:  for the month of May I am shutting off three things that are potentially escapism, numbing agents, addictive in nature, or just flat distractions.  It’s not forever.  It’s one month.  I’ve been having arguments in my head with things people around me have been saying about two of these three things (the other one, there is no argument, it is flat out evil in my life).  I’m tired of having arguments in my head; the other people don’t hear them anyway, and until I test my hypothesis, I can’t know whether I’m right.

Oh.  What are the three things, you’re wondering?

Facebook.

Netflix.

Sugar.

It’s easy to know the sugar needs to go.  I’ve done enough dietary experimentation to understand that for me, sugar is poison – a powerfully addictive substance that hijacks my self-control to a level that is horrifying, when I really look into it.  I’ve gotten off it more than once, but right now I’m back in the full sugar swing, because addiction is like that.  Time to shut it back off.  When I shut it off, the loss of its power over me feels like a literal changing of who I am.  Why do I let it back?  Well, the 12-step community doesn’t call addiction “cunning, baffling, and powerful” for nothing.

Netflix – that’s a medium-sized argument.  Yes, we “binge” our way through series.  No, I don’t live my life around it.  I used to be a very extreme TV addict; I feel like that is broken completely off for me.  Nonetheless…could I be using my time better, especially now with the weather improving?  Probably.  No harm in taking a month away from the TV screen (and at our house, it’s Netflix/Amazon Prime or nothing – we have no other form of TV available – and yes, I’m including Amazon Prime viewing in the ban for the month as well).

Facebook?  I don’t know.  I feel like all the arguments for that are “outside” of me.  I don’t feel that rush of competitive, threatening jealousy or insecure one-upsmanship that so many refer to when talking about Facebook land.  I am not sucked in by the wasting-your-life baloney that is available there – it doesn’t seem that hard to me to just scroll on by the crap to get to the good stuff.  I have great connections with people I care about, who are no longer within easy visiting distance.  I have wonderful sources there of folks I only marginally know who regularly provide links for fascinating, excellent articles.  I have the ability to know some things I can pray for folks on my feed, just by watching the nature of their posts.  Do I ever “waste time” on Facebook?  Heck yeah.  But what I waste time on there is no worse than the time-wasters I would choose in another format.

Aaaaaanyway.  I’m arguing.  And the point is not to argue.  The point is to follow the lead.  So I’ve only got a few more days before my month off.  On a funny note, I’m attending a women’s retreat later this week that will effectively knock me off of Facebook and Netflix four days early (will I come home Sunday night and check out Facebook one last time before the adventure commences?  Seems likely to me.)

If this post reads as some stupid “humble brag”…that’s not the intent.  Trying to keep it real here.  It makes sense to me to document ahead of time where I am on it, so that I can compare notes later to see what the journey was like.  For sure I am no spiritual giant for doing this – a spiritual giant would not be arguing and pouting on her way out the door, am I right?

I’ll let you know how it goes.  I have no ban on blogging, and I’m guessing with those other things cut out, I may find more time to write.  Meanwhile, we’re not there yet.  One more week to go!

We were practicing a specific kind of intercessory prayer, listening to God and waiting to get a word or a picture for one person at a time.  It was my turn – the group was praying over me.  Someone got a picture:  the energizer bunny.

I felt relief as I immediately knew what that was about.  God sees me!  He is talking to me, telling me that He knows me, that I am enough, that I don’t have to keep trying so hard.  He is pleased with my desire to serve, but that doesn’t have to define my every moment.  I can let go of scrambling to do, do, do.  I can slow down.

Then, amidst my relief, another voice.  The person who got the picture for me added their thoughts.  I was going to become more active, more productive.  I was going to be like someone else we both knew, someone who goes, goes, goes all the time.  My activity was going to be ratcheted up.

The idea scratched in my ears like nails on a chalkboard.  It made me more tired than I already was.  I went home and went straight to bed, asking God, “Didn’t I hear you right?”  How could I do MORE?  The idea of needing to do more made me want to quit altogether.

I continued to pray about that over time; when my freak-out was over, I was able to hear Him assuring me.  I had heard Him right.

Still, I didn’t really know how to slow down.  I kind of worked on it, but it continued to be somehow just beyond my grasp in the many months since that prayer session.

One great thing about God is He keeps on talking, when we don’t get it the first time.

I got sick a couple of weeks ago – the kind of sick that presses me down on the bed and holds me there, captive.  I was down for the count for three days; on the fourth, I woke up feeling better and thought the storm was over.  I jumped out of bed at 5 AM and proceeded to hustle around my house, getting stuff done, thrilled with the recovery.  After five hours of hustle, I crashed, landing back in bed and cancelling an important meeting I should have attended, could have attended if I had just not leaped into SuperKaren mode that morning.

That set me back so hard that for the following seven days,  each day I had to stop in the afternoon, quit everything I was doing, and just go home for long naps, sleeping a deep sleep that is a thing from my past, beyond my reach at night anymore.  The naps were not optional.  It was discouraging.  I felt like I was NEVER going to be well and whole again.

In the midst of this struggle, I was emailing with my chiro/functional medicine practitioner.  I told her about feeling so much better and then crashing again.  She had urged me already to slow down.  I confessed that I don’t know how to slow down.  I expressed my surprise at this revelation.

Then she used a word that made me cry.  You are convalescing, she said.  You haven’t been well for two years.  I’ve seen your excitement as you are healing, and it is good, but this isn’t going away in a period of weeks.  It will take months.  You have to slow down.  You have to focus on being, not doing.  I know you can do it.  I read her thoughts, shocked, and wept.  All this time I’ve wanted my MD to pay attention, listen, help me…and now someone is doing that, and in the moment it was kind of devastating.

Convalescing?  That’s what I’m doing?  I’m a vocabulary girl; I was sure I knew what that word meant, but I spent some time studying it around the internet anyway.  It speaks to slowing down, separating oneself from the hurry of the getting-stuff-done world.  Once upon a time, people who were healing were sent away to quiet locations to convalesce, for weeks or months at a time.  Set aside to rest, take walks, create art, sit by bodies of water and do nothing.  I read about this and a great longing stretched out in me.  Oh, how I’d love to be tucked away somewhere like that!

I was still processing this when the next wave of input came from another source.  I’m giving a talk later this month at a women’s event about the importance for Christ-followers of regular study.  I previewed that talk last week in front of a team of about twenty women, sharing my journey with lots of specifics about the various ways I study.  I was/am excited to give this talk, since study is my jam.

Then it was time for them to give me feedback.  Collectively the room liked a lot about what I shared.  Collectively they all also said stuff that boiled down to:  HOLY COW WOMAN, you are overwhelming!  You need to let “normal” people know that they don’t need to do alllll those things that you do!  You’ll scare people into not trying, if they think they have to live up to that much!

Uhhh…oh.  Really?  The funny thing was that when I’d been asked to give this talk, even though study is my jam, I had worried a bit that what I do might not be enough.

My long-time prayer and accountability partner was in that group of ladies.  She took me aside later.  “No wonder you’re tired all the time, if that’s what you’re doing!”  She urged me to slow down, to stop filling every spare second with effort.  To stop doing so much and practice just being.  Maybe this is why I don’t sleep so well, she noted.  Maybe this is the source of my busy “working dreams” that leave me waking up exhausted from all the fruitless “effort” therein.  She has gone on to urge me since then:  rest matters.  You have to rest.  She’s wonderfully relentless – when I say I will try, she reminds me, laughing, that Yoda says, “There is no try, there is only do!”

That same day of the meeting, my daughter Julia let me know that my busyness had shown up in her dream.  My granddaughter was sick and struggling; in her dream, Julia was arranging to keep her home from school to heal.  In her dream, I was gruff.  She’s just a preschooler, but I was adamant:  she’s big enough to be in school.  She doesn’t need time to heal.  Don’t keep her home.  We chuckled together about it, and Julia noted that in real life while I am terribly hard on myself, I always give everyone else permission – rest!  Slow down!  You don’t have to do all that!

Yeah, it was just a dream, but by this point I was clear:  God and I are having a conversation.  I need to be listening.

Aaaaannnnd He’s not done talking yet.  One of my favorite bloggers is Dr. Kelly Flanagan, a psychologist with gentle, brilliant insight whose writing speaks deeply to me.  He released a book in March, and I pounced on it.  It is called “Loveable:  Embracing What Is Truest About You, So You Can Truly Embrace Your Life.”  I’m reading it on my lunch breaks at work.

That gets awkward, for this reason:  the book makes me weep.  I open it up, I read his gentle, loving words, and the tears just run down my face.  The basic message is simple – you are enough.  You don’t have to try so hard.  I have had so much healing on this front already that I kind of thought I had arrived; my daily tears when I crack the book open tell me that I’m nowhere near arrived.  I’m drinking in his words like water in a desert, filled with gratitude but also perpetually shocked at my own continued vulnerability on this point.  I haven’t thought that I was trying to “earn” anything with my doing.  But I’ve been wrong on that point.  This much is clear.

I’m breaking a rule of appropriate sharing by opening this all up while I’m in the middle of it.  The problem isn’t solved.  I haven’t yet regained my grasp on rest.  I’m trying to figure it out – trying to let go.  Trying to let God open up the place in me that locked the concept away.  I’m sharing because I’m not the only “getting stuff done” person stuck on the hamster wheel and trying to remember how to rest.  If you’re in the struggle with me:  I’m praying for you.  Pray for me.  We can do this.  God wants us to get it, which means we can, and we will.