Hey my bloggy friends! I'm back! I hope you didn't give up on me. I haven't really had the time or the energy to get anything new posted for a while now. Plus, I really haven't been in a very good frame of mind to share anything worth reading. It would have been all doom and gloom, pissed off at the world kinda stuff. So you can thank me for sparing you that kind of thing. Haha!
I've been trying to sort through lots of painful thoughts and feelings these last few months. Wait, scratch that, it's been more like these last four years that this "sorting through" thing has been going on. I've had some pretty good days, not so good days, and really bad days, as far as trying to work through all the physical and emotional challenges I've been walking through. The death of my brother three months ago really threw me for a loop. It seemed to stir up an emotional hornets nest. It brought up so many painful feelings from the past, which had nothing to do with my brother, that I thought I had already dealt with, but obviously hadn't fully processed the pain from those things. On top of having the grief to deal with, I've been trying to deal with all these crappy emotions from the past. Whoa! Where did that come from???
Have you ever had a season where it seems like you constantly have difficult, painful, heartbreaking things happen, over and over? Did it seem like it would never stop? Did you feel like you were going to collapse under the weight of it all? Did you get to the point of just wanting to give up? That is exactly how the last four to five years have been for me, but even more so since my brother passed away. I keep wondering when it will finally be over. I am so ready for a new season to begin. I don't even know who I am anymore. I'm not the same person I used to be. The pain and heartbreak have changed who I once was. I don't know what my purpose is anymore. Did I even have one to start with? I don't know what I believe anymore. Does God even care about me at all? Why does it feel like He has completely left me? Are His promises true for me or am I too far gone? These are the sort of things I have been struggling with for quite some time. Talk about feeling like you're brain and emotions are on overload! Gee whiz! I want to get off this ride now!
I finally realized that I was not able to handle all the emotions I was going through in a healthy way because I was physically exhausted. I had pushed myself beyond what I could deal with. I've learned the hard way how important it is to take care of myself and to make time for me, which means it's okay for me to say NO. I've had to face the fact that I am not Superwoman. I cannot be everything to everyone. I cannot rescue or help everyone. I cannot, nor do I have to, always be there to do whatever someone else wants me to do. I have wants and needs that are just as important as other peoples wants and needs. These have not been easy lessons for me to learn. I can sometimes be a little hard-headed.....okay, maybe a lot hard-headed when it comes to things like changing old habits and ways of thinking. No one likes to admit they can't do something. No one wants to admit they need help from others. No one wants to have to deal with the guilt trips you get from yourself, and sometimes others, when you choose to say no. As a recovering people-pleaser, telling people no, especially family, means you have to deal with this huge guilt trip from yourself, and sometimes from the person you are telling no to. It is no fun at all!
If you are feeling pushed beyond your limits or like you're burning the candle at both ends, then it's probably time for a change. I can tell you, from personal experience, if you don't take notice and do something about those red flags that are waving at you, your body and your emotions will start breaking down. Our bodies and minds are not meant to constantly be overburdened and stretched beyond what we can handle in a healthy way. All this can leave us stressed out, exhausted, and even depressed. Our bodies were created to have rest. We need to take off the Superwoman/Superman cape. We all have our limits, and that's okay. One person may be able to bear more than another, so don't compare yourself to someone else. This is not about someone else, this is all about you. It's all about knowing what you can handle and what you can't, and being okay with admitting you cannot do it all. It's about recognizing the warning signs that are telling you that you are pushing yourself beyond your limits. It's about making some positive changes for yourself. You are worth it. You have to actively pursue those changes because they will not happen on their own. If you don't make time for yourself, no one else will. It's not going to just happen without making the effort. You cannot give to your family or to the people you love, out of a grateful heart, if you are so worn out and exhausted. To continue trying to give more of yourself than there is to give only results in bitterness and anger.
There are some things I can't change about my life, but there are also things I can change, and one of those things is what I do with my time and energy. I am responsible for how I use my time. God gives us all 24 hours every day, so what am I going to do with it? Am I going to continue to live my life feeling like I am pushed beyond what I can physically and emotionally handle, or am I going to stop and take inventory of the things I give my time and energy to? Am I going to make the necessary changes to get my life and my health back in order? Just because we're busy does not mean we're fruitful. Overextending yourself is not going to produce good fruit.
I want to share a suggestion with you that was inspired by a dear friend of mine recently. It made me realize that I'm the only one who can do something to change the things I choose to spend my time doing. It made me realize that no one else is in charge of the way I spend my time, but me.
So, here's what I want you to do:
1. Sit down somewhere quiet for a few minutes. Grab a cup of coffee or tea, a pen and a piece of paper. (Yes, that means you have to stop everything for a few minutes and sit down. You can do it! The _____ (fill in the blank) will still be there when you get done.)
2. Think about all the things you do every day, all the things you give your time and energy towards.
3. Make a list of those things. For some of you it may be a very long list, but do it anyway. You may be surprised once you see everything you put your time and effort towards.
4. Decide what's important on that list. Decide what you want to commit your time and energy to. Every time you say yes to something, you're saying no to something else. Are there things or activities that you really don't have to be committed to? Remember, you don't have to be committed to everything. What are the things on that list that need to be priorities and what are the things that are just taking up your precious time? Are there things on that list that you do because you're afraid to tell someone no? Are you only doing it because you're a people-pleaser? (Oh my friend, I so understand the pressure of that one. It's hard to say no, but it's even harder when you get so physically and emotionally spent that you no longer have anything to give and your body is starting to rebel because it can't take anymore.) Side note: There may be things on that list that you need to be committed to for a certain season. That's okay. I have some of those on my list too. It won't be that way forever.
5. Do you see any areas where you need/can make changes? What changes can you make to help free up your time and bring more peace in your life? What things do you need to say no to? (Here's a great article on "How To Say No": http://stress.about.com/od/settingboundaries/ht/say_no.htm)
It's not easy to make changes, but when you've come to a fork in the road where you know you can't keep going the same old way anymore because you are suffering physically and emotionally, it gives you a little more motivation. We are only hurting ourselves when we keep trying to do more than we are capable of. Don't ignore the red flags. You can make the needed changes to help bring more peace to your life, to have a little more time to focus on yourself, but it will require being persistent and determined. Rest is beneficial to our minds, bodies, and our souls. Best wishes to you my friends, as you sort through the things that take up your time. Life is too short to waste our precious time on things that aren't bearing fruit. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Until next time my friends, be blessed!