Part 1: Take A Deep Breath
A few months ago we were having an Influence Network planning meeting and we were setting themes for each month for the first half of 2015. It was a fun process, deciding what kind of content to give our women and praying about where God might want us to head. When we got to January - you can imagine the themes I suggested. Moving Forward! Dreaming! Goals! I was almost shocked when there was a little pushback. That's not necessarily how everyone views January and as I listened I remembered that this month is sometimes overwhelming, sometimes underwhelming, and it comes with all the trappings of the thickness of winter. The theme we settled on was Take a Deep Breath - perfect for both types of women. Those raring to go (and needing to take a deep breath first) and those maybe a little wary of stepping forward (and needing to take a deep breath).
Whenever I've spoken at churches or conferences this past year, I've shared a little about the idea of inhaling, being inspired. Essentially I've talked about the great need for us to shift away from desiring to be inspiring and into women who are inspired by God. What does the word inspire really mean? To inhale, to breath in. I think taking a deep breath is a fantastic idea.
2. Breaking Point
I rarely say I'm at my breaking point. I realize that on paper my life can look a little overwhelming. Four kids, my husband is a church planter of a small church, I run one small business with a team of three women, I co-run another small business with five other women, I'm constantly on social media, and I'm gearing up to write a book (or two) this year. Sixty five percent of the time - it just feels like life and I'm incredibly grateful for that. Thirty percent of the time it feels like "Hahahaha! This is overwhelming!". Definitely a lot, but not something you can't laugh about or fix with a little prayer. But 5% of the time? It feels soul crushing. It feels like I can't breathe. It feels like I'm going to FREAK OUT and have a panic attack and scream all at once - I CAN'T DO THIS. ONE PERSON CAN'T DO ALL THIS. PLEASE GIVE ME A BREAK. I have a feeling, no matter what your days look like, you have those moments too.
But I try to reserve truly freaking out till I get to that point and then I try to tell people so that I don't actually lose my junk. As someone who's struggled with suicidal tendencies and extreme anxiety - I try to be good at really expressing when I'm going to lose it before I really lose it. And I found myself over the last week or so slowly alerting those people that know and love me intimately - I'm not doing good.
3. The Past Month
Right before Christmas break, I'd say I was at an 82/100 on the scale of the amount of stress I could handle. Fall 2014 was amazing but it was freakishly overbooked (my own fault) and just plain overwhelming. Great overwhelming, really. The shop has been really growing, the church is off to an amazing start, four kids were lively and active - all incredibly good things. But I knew I was hitting my threshold. I was craving our Christmas break and I anticipating it so much. A break from work, social media, quiet family days with fun activities, and some time to dream and plan for the New Year. I knew I'd need that deep breath before we take on the things we're trying to take on in 2015.
But that's not the way the Lord wrote it. Because of where some things fell on the Naptime Diaries and Influence calendars, there wasn't really one true day where I could totally take my work hat off. I didn't get intentional and step away from social media. We got a puppy - which brought a ton of joy and fun, but I'm the puppy's primary care-giver, so I essentially got a fifth child and a new schedule to balance. And the culmination was one incredibly bad day. Nick had gone away for two planning days at a nearby beach condo. I felt pretty frazzled and overwhelmed with the kids and puppy in general. Then our dryer broke. And then.... I found the lice.
I'll spare all the gory details and just say what ensued was a week of stressing and standing over children's hair (and my own) - meticulously picking out bugs. After we acquired a new dryer, I had to wash and dry essentially everything we touched for days on end. My prayer and planning day got canceled and then got canceled again. I even dreamt about combing out lice in my sleep (I still am) and mostly just lived at my 96% stressed out level for a week on end. Those businesses I wanted and needed to cast vision for and start kicking into gear? I couldn't even. My marriage - the dreaming and planning we usually do together? We've barely known how to when to talk to each other. Quiet time or space time to process? None.
It could've been so much worse and that thought kept me going. We were battling lice, not cancer. And in all honesty, it wasn't the lice - it was the lack of the deep breath I needed more than anything.
4. Daily Deep Breaths
Last night I was at a worship service and it took me so long to acclimate to the kind of thoughts I knew I needed to be having. In my head, all I heard was:
I CAN'T DO THIS.
I CAN'T DO THIS YEAR.
I CAN'T LOVE THIS HUSBAND AND SERVE HIM HOW HE NEEDS.
I'M NOT A WRITER. I CAN'T WRITE A BOOK.
REMEMBER - I DIDN'T GO TO BUSINESS SCHOOL.
AND I'M AN AWFUL MOM - WHY DID YOU DO THIS?
These thoughts are genuinely so rare for me, I was shocked to find them. But I felt them through and through. I tend to be way more on the optimistic side, but that's what was there and I wasn't sure how to handle the gruesome accusations my own heart was hurling at my head.
But He kept whispering back: deep breaths.
Daily deep breaths.
It's not about you. I didn't ask YOU to do anything.
You don't have to do anything, I'm the gardener.
Abide in me.
your weakness = My Perfect Power
So that's where I'm at.
Preaching that 2014 message to myself now that 2015 is here and I need it desperately. Believing that when I inhale HIM and His presence, whether it's in a quiet moment or an incredibly chaotic one - He'll give what I need. I'm not sure how the beginning of your year has gone, but I pray it's been incredibly peaceful.
In case it hasn't - I feel you sister.
Those deep breaths (and the infinite supply of the Inspirer) are there for the taking.
Let's just breathe Him in.