Last week was one of those weeks that just left me reeling in exhaustion and emotion. Have you had those? Those are the weeks where, when they draw to a close, we look back and think ‘How on Earth did I just make it through all of that?’ Everyone has those weeks, where you are pretty sure the world has slipped off of its center and everything feels a little wonky.
I hesitate to lay out the details because I know that some of you walked through weeks that were so much more difficult than mine. However, because I really want you to see what God is working on in me, I want to share some things with you.
I am just starting to get over a bout with pneumonia. Pneumonia is no joke. I felt awful and so run down all of last week. Some of that still lingers into this week. Along with all of that, my grandpa, whom I’ve been in charge of caring for the last several years, is on hospice in the nursing home. He’s battled Parkinson’s Disease and Dimentia for a long time and took a turn for the worse about 2 months ago. It’s been a very long battle and has been so very heartbreaking to watch.
Just to make things a tad more interesting, all of this is happening on the same week that my Dad went into the hospital last year. The one year anniversary of his passing is this coming Saturday. That alone has been a very hard milestone to approach. The emotion and the memories that just hit me out of the clear blue have been enough to knock me clean off of my feet at times.
Needless to say, I’ve been a walking train wreck on the inside all week. I’m physically feeling sick and worn and emotionally feeling very raw. I’ve been trying very hard to take care of my family, move past my own health stuff, and be there with my grandpa. I’ve been trying to keep everything running smoothly. On the outside, things probably didn’t look too bad, but on the inside I was a mess.
The results haven’t been pretty friends. And would you like to know why? Because I was trying to do it in my own strength and for my own benefit. I was wearing myself into a frazzle trying to keep everything from falling apart all around me while keeping a smile firmly etched into place, because that’s what we think we are suppose to do.
Can I just be honest? That’s an exhausting game to play.
Yesterday, I went to church and then came home and watched my boys decorate our Christmas tree. When that was over, I packed my bag to go spend the rest of the day and evening with my Grandpa, by myself. When I got into the car, I realized how tired I was, so I put on a podcast by Francis Chan to keep me awake and alert while I was driving. It was so good. I love when God just gives you this little random thought, like ‘maybe I will listen to this to stay awake’ and it turns out to be exactly what you really need to hear. He’s good like that.
Anyway, Francis Chan was speaking at a retreat for leaders in the church and asking them to quit trying to be something that they are not. He was asking them to lay aside their phony facades of perfection and be real with their people. He was calling them into transparency and authenticity because sharing our struggles is one of the most sure fire ways to help someone feel like they aren’t alone in theirs. Not only that, but it shifts our perspective from one of ‘I must do all and be all’ to one of ‘God help me’.
It was just what I needed to hear. I had been running myself into the ground all week desperately trying to keep everything around me from plunging into chaos. I hadn’t asked for much help and hadn’t wanted to even admit how difficult the week had been.
So, last night when I pulled into the nursing home, I picked up my Grandpa’s hand and opened my Bible and gathered as much wisdom, peace, love, strength, direction, correction, and inspiration as I could find. When my Grandpa’s sweet nurse came in and asked how I was doing, I fell apart a little and told her how hard it was to watch this, especially after I sat in this same place exactly one year ago. I readily accepted her hug and words of comfort. I reached out to my personal friends and some of my sweet friends on Facebook and asked for prayers for comfort for my Grandpa and peace and strength for myself, and they responded in ways that bring tears to my eyes. I came home and crawled into bed and was graceful to myself by letting myself sleep in a little later this morning because my body desperately needs the rest. I’ve allowed my self time to read my Bible, reflect, process, and write this morning because that is the way I feel most connected to God. I let go of the ‘do all and be all’ and starting saying ‘God help me’.
The weight of perception can be crushing. Trying to keep all of the plates spinning in this circus act can be utterly exhausting. We often refuse to give ourselves grace and mercy. We don’t want to take off the mask of perfection because it’s possible that people will see that we really don’t have it all together.
Well, I’m here to tell you that I DO NOT have it all together. I never have. I’m sure I probably never will. BUT yesterday and again this morning, I was reading through Isaiah and was so encouraged that I DONT HAVE to have it all together because I serve a God who does. He is the beginning and the end. He is my protector, provider. His plans have been laid since the foundation of the earth and He never fails to keep his promises. He loves me. He has this whole great big world, and even my little tiny existence in it, firmly in His grasp.
I have no idea why last week was so rough. And it’s entirely likely that this week could be equally as difficult. But I know the one who created the moon and the starts and knit me together. He loves me and my grandpa. All that happens in this world and in my life will ultimately bring Him glory. I know that I don’t have to be perfect or understand His plans because He is perfect and His plans are perfect. As much as I can, I’m going to rest in that this week when things get difficult. As much as I’m able, I’m going to leave my mask off and show that the only hope I have of making it through is by clinging to the one who loves me and has this all firmly in the palm of His hand.
Isaiah 43:2-3a, 4a
“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you…”