Saturday, March 3, 2018

Permission Granted

Hey Girl.

Yes, You, Dear Reader.  I’m talking to You.  I have something that I want to say, a message that has been bubbling from deep within, informed by my own experience and etched upon my soul.  I tried to write about something else, but I couldn’t get You off my mind.

You are tired. So very, very weary and you can no longer keep up with all the things. You have been showing up at the appointed times. You have been checking the boxes.  Life is unfolding around you, yet you feel like you are missing it entirely. Like a spider in a toilet bowl, discarded for disposal, you are flailing frantically, a last-ditch effort to keep your head above the surface.  Any moment now, the waters will come rushing forth, swirling and spinning, and you know you won’t be able to hang on against the force.  It’s only a matter of time before you find yourself washed down, down, down.  Down to who knows where.

“Is this it?  Is this life now?”

These are the words you find yourself whispering as hope and joy feel all but a distant aspiration.  You long to experience life’s pleasures, to be present, maybe to be a little less angry.  You are frustrated by hardship, defeated by exhaustion and you just don’t want to do any of it anymore.

You’ve been showing up to all the things, saying “yes” to all the requests asked of you and now you feel bitter and unseen and overlooked.  Has anyone noticed your efforts?  Has anyone even paid attention to how many things you crossed off your list today?  You are doing-doing-doing and achieving and attempting to please all those around you but have never felt emptier.

You may not recognize it yet, but you have lived your life a prisoner to your mind.  Your mind, which tends to don a jersey in the opposing team’s color, is doing everything in its power to take you down all day long.  Thoughts torment you, telling you all the ways you aren’t measuring up.  They tell you if you don’t earn an “A” grade, you are not worthy of love.  They tell you approval is something you must work for.  They pile guilt upon guilt, eventually miles high, the gasoline that fuels you to keep on trudging ahead and doing the things that leave you bitter and weary.  They say if life isn’t hurting, then you obviously aren’t doing it right.  

I am so blessed, and I really should be thankful for all that I have,” you tell yourself, conjuring up pictures in your mind of orphans in third world countries, just as you’ve been taught.  But these words taste as sharp as acid in your mouth, ingenuine and forced.  Deep down, you are far from grateful and this feels like an unholy ugliness, something you must keep hidden.  How dare you not appreciate all the good in your life?!  And so along with a checklist of other things you “should be” feeling, you swallow your emotions, don a smile and forge on ahead. 

Each time you find yourself with a moment of quiet in your typically-chaotic days, you feel incredibly guilty.

“You really should do something productive,” the voices tell you.

“No one else is getting a break, so why should you?”

“You don’t deserve this,” they say.

Well I’m here to tell you it’s time to SHUT THOSE VOICES DOWN.  

We cannot continue to guilt ourselves out of enjoying the pleasures of life.  Some of us (and you know who you are), in the name of “hard work ethic,” have been ignoring our body’s cues, begging that we slow down and rest.  We wear our stress like badges of honor and are quick to judge those who aren’t over-worked and under-rested.  We see people around us setting boundaries to preserve their well-being and jealousy and envy turn us sour.

“Lazy,” we call them, accusingly, only because it makes us feel better about ourselves and justifies our overtaxed natures.

More recently, God has taken my former mode of operation and turned it on its head.  With outside help, I have begun to recognize that my over-committed, no-margin lifestyle wasn’t doing anyone any favors.  And the girl who once said yes to everything now, on occasion, says no.  The one who believes her measure of worth is directly correlated with her level of productivity is slowly fading.  The one who once viewed rest for the “weak and lazy” is now fighting to create moments of peaceful quiet nearly every day for the sake of her own sanity.  I am working to overcome my feelings of undeservedness because, the more I read scripture, the more I realize that the God I believe in longs for us to enjoy and experience pleasure in his good, good gifts.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-14 says “So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.”

Some of you need to hear this word today. Some of you need to lower the bar for yourself at least seven notches.  Some of you need the permission to STOP.  You’ve been spending every spare moment or all the preschool hours doing and accomplishing, and your weary spirit is barely hanging on.  You’ve lost the ability to feel real joy.  You don’t know what brings you pleasure anymore.  Each time you try and do something “for yourself,” your mind races through all the things you “should” be doing instead and you end up more drained than you were to begin with.

You have permission to stop.  You have permission to pick up a book and read all afternoon long.  You have permission to not accomplish a blessed thing during every single nap time this week.  Heck!  You have permission to be the one taking the nap if sleep is what you need!  You have permission to put your feet up this weekend and let the laundry mountain grow.  Your soul is weary, and you aren’t going to make it at this pace.  It doesn’t matter what everyone else in the culture around you is doing.

You need to do what YOUR soul, mind and body are crying out for. 

And for you, the act of resting, truly resting, takes far more strength than getting anything crossed off on that list ever would.  So, rest, my friend.  Permission granted.

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posted by kelsie