Yeah, that title is a new revelation, right? I have been struggling lately. I am sure it is evident in my lack of posts, as well as the discouraged tone throughout the ones that I do finally publish. But, God is still good and I am still very aware of that. So good in fact, that I am once again blown away by the people he has placed in my path, to speak exactly what I needed to hear at the exact moment I needed to hear it. And, to be honest, those things you need to hear aren't always the things you want to hear. But, this revelation I desperately needed to hear.
You see, I have been struggling tremendously. Trying to hide the struggles with forced smiles, cute shoes and the amazing confidence in knowing who God sees me to be. Between summer visits leaving me childless for far too many nights, my attempts at keeping myself busy enough to not think too much about those visits, and the obligations I have now committed to, I am tired. I am burned out. I am weepy, longing for God's guidance and trying to work my way through life, instead of just living it. Not that any of this is a criticism to myself, we all say yes when we should say no. For reasons unknown to us, we seem to always feel the need to say yes. And yet, there are times we should say a simple, "I'm sorry. I can't." I understand this completely. Whether or not I can or will do it is to be determined.
A little over a year ago, I was given the best advice possible for the season I was in. I was told do everything you can to stay busy. To fall into bed so exhausted I didn't realize there was no one sleeping next to me. The busier you are, the less you will think and worry. It worked wonders for me and got me through a really tough spot. Newsflash: I'm not in the same season as I was a year ago. I have been running full steam ahead in every single aspect of my life. Making fun memories with the girls, working at Sara's school when I can, putting in my hours at work, volunteering to do tasks to fill time, as well as the to serve the ministries I feel called to serve in. I have done a great job. I only very rarely have nightmares anymore, and I sleep great (after my to-do list becomes my to-done list...). And I wake up exhausted.
All of this busy-ness has only propelled the need to "earn" my salvation. When I say no to something that will essentially bless or benefit the church I attend, someone in need, or one of the little people I love so incredibly much, I feel like I am telling God he isn't important, or that I don't appreciate the sacrifices made for me. For so many years, I was taught that perfection was the only way to heaven, and that my good deeds could help cancel out the bad ones, and even then, I wasn't guaranteed a spot in. Well, I have totally screwed up in so many different areas of my life, so I often fall back into the habit of working off my salvation. As if my good deeds could ever be worth the price of Jesus dying on the cross. Yeah, it wouldn't matter how perfect I tried to be, no good deed could ever benefit anyone as much as He did for me and everyone else that day. The book I have been doing in the connect group talks about the desire to be perfect, along with the reminder that perfection isn't necessary. Being perfectly loved is. The Bible reminds us in several places this desire isn't what God wants for us. He just wants us to sit back and remember what our salvation is all about, and regardless of our almost perfect or earth-shattering horrible days, we will still be loved. We will still be saved. We will still have a meaningful relationship with Him. Regardless.
So, struggling tonight. Between emotions of what this day represents (what is your anniversary supposed to be called when it is no longer your anniversary, anyway?), the start of a new school year, knowing that in order for me to survive right now, I have to accept help, and just overall feelings of unrest, I am just really having a rough little bit. I unleashed on a friend this morning, dealing with part of my worries and frustrations, and it helped for a while. Until I realized that the issues I was having and then dealt with weren't the source of my uneasy feelings. I feel so pulled right now, in so many directions. As I stood working today, hearing all of the women pour countless hours of time and prep to help me (well, and an entire community of single moms), I felt such tremendous guilt. Guilt that I wasn't back there helping. After all, they were trying to help me. Was it okay for me to not be helping them? Secondly, guilt that I am where I am. I hate admitting defeat. Well, divorce for me was defeat. I did something I swore I would never do, regardless of the circumstances. I left work shortly after, realizing my to-do list for the night was tremendous. I needed to run. No, I wanted to run. I needed to get away from all of it, all the pressure, all the stress. I needed to spend time with the girls before they are gone for yet another weekend away. I need to type a revision to some bylaws that needed to be finished last week (I know, I am really great at my job...). I needed to work on a sewing project. I needed to do homework. It just felt overwhelming, and like my priorities were out of whack. I packed myself and Sara up and off we went. The whole four minutes there, I felt such enormous guilt for leaving the other girls to do something for me. And, I felt bad because I let one come with me and left the others at home. We ran, well, actually, I ran. Sara scootered. It felt great. Our time wasn't great, but I perfected the art of running backwards, encouraging a child who wanted to give up, and ran the entire way. Not fast, but running is running. :) I came home to the same craziness that I left, and still felt so restless. Like I wanted to run again. After the girls fell asleep, (at the amazing hour of 7 and 7:30!!!) I sat down and in the midst of my chaos, I really just wanted to give up. I fought myself for a little while, then finally made the decision to reach out. And, I hate reaching out. I hate telling someone I am struggling over stupid nonsense, and that I just need someone to listen and tell me it is all okay. And, even worse, I hate knowing that whatever comes out of their mouth will probably be right. Basically, I hate feeling weak.
Anyway, short story shorter, the friend I called said something to me that just blew my mind. I was told, "Cil, your salvation is not in jeopardy." It was one of those slap me in the face moments. Not because this person was out of line, but because it was so not what we were talking about. But, it was right. I constantly find myself falling into the mindset that if I am not doing enough for the church, or if I tell someone no, I am going to lose favor with God. That He is going to punish me for not working myself to nothing. I told my connect group ladies a few weeks ago that nothing I can do will ever prove or disprove my worth in God's eyes. No human will ever see me the way God does. I was talking about the things people have said about me, and how hard I work to prove them wrong. I made the comment about those nay-sayers never dying to prove what my worth is to them. Therefore, what they have to say isn't really all that important.
This is going to sound totally crazy, because as I write, I have become so aware of a few pieces of luggage I need to take off of my back and let go. I feel sad doing it, but know that right now, it is just too much to hang onto all of it. And, my salvation will not be lost because I handed the luggage off to someone just as capable, or more. I will not be doomed to hell because I can't do it all. I was gently reminded tonight I am not Superwoman. As astonishing as that thought was, deep down, I know God never expected me to be the hands, feet, arms, legs, mouth, ears and eyes. I cannot do it all. In all reality, he probably just wanted me to be an eyelash... :)
On a more serious note, as I sit back and process things, I realize that peace I was so desperately searching for has settled in. Apparently, I needed those words far more than I realized I did. My salvation is secure. I do not have to worry, I do not have to fear.
Publisher's Note: Thomas deserves all the credit for the title of this post. He is the friend that kicked my butt... ;-)