“Remember that time we thought it was a good idea to quit our jobs and start our own ginormous things?”
That’s what my best friend, Krista said to me with all the sarcasm and exaggeration the moment called for when I texted her yesterday afternoon to tell her I’d just lost it with my family.
I guess my tendency is to get anxious when my house isn't in order if I feel like my life isn't in order. In fact, when I was starting this blog, I asked my kids for help coming up with a tagline. I asked them, "What's something Mama says all the time?"
"Get your crap off the floor."
Ha! One of them even made this lovely graphic.
Awesome. I don't know if I've ever actually said that, but my kids have the best sense of humor.
Anywho, my frustration yesterday came out of nowhere. It caught me completely off guard. All of the sudden all I could see was everything everyone had not done in the last 24 hours. Dishes, laundry, bills, tidying up… I’d spent the day before cleaning my house like a cleaning service would. And I did it with such a tender heart of love and service for my family… which, I’ll be honest, isn't always how that goes. I’ve been known to get so fed up with the condition of my house that I clean out of spite. I don’t know what that is. Anyone with me? I'm working on it.
Anyway, the blaming and irritation was completely self-righteous, totally undoing the good motives from the day before. Never mind the fact that I hadn’t done much around the house in weeks as I've been in the midst of crunch time for a major event. What was my deal?!
I didn’t yell or fuss, I just guilted and mercilessly pointed it all out to them. Never mind the fact that my teen folded three loads of laundry that day, my tween did the dishes by herself the afternoon before, and my husband had picked up a ton of extra work to help bridge the financial gap the week before. All I could feel in that moment was the weight of everything I had to do, the passing of time without a formal (read: paying) job, and my complete lack of grip on it all.
I really don’t know what came over me. It’s like I had a momentary lapse in kindness. I knew I was being completely irrational and that I was blame shifting, but I couldn’t seem to get ahold of my feelings for a solid hour. I wasn’t really lashing out, I was just withdrawn. I sat on the edge of my bathtub texting back and forth with my girl, just confessing and trying to get my heart right. For some reason, we have a practice of sending each other photos of ourselves at our worst. I guess that’s how we keep it real.
I’m glad I have this moment documented. I feel like the photo makes me want to look myself in the eye and say, “Tina,” (That’s what everyone, including me, calls me when I’m clumsy, forgetful or otherwise wacky), “are you hanging out with Jesus? No? Well, you should go do that and stop feeling sorry for yourself, girl.”
I finally got it together enough to pray.
“Jesus. We don’t do overwhelmed and falling apart. I mean, you know I do if I’m trying to do all the things on my own, but we don’t freak out when we’re doing stuff together. I need you. You're so, so good. You make me nice and capable and put together. Please help me get myself collected. I want to glorify you.”
A few minutes of silence and listening later, I got up feeling peaceful and just went about normal life again. Later on, Krista texted me again, “I hope your family showed you a ton of grace.”
They did. Unspoken and sweetly, we each extended Grace and owned our part of the breakdown. We are all acutely aware of the large number of incredibly heavy balls we have in the air as a family right now.
Before my time on the tub, my husband had come and found me pacing in our room and simply listened to me feel real big-like for a minute, hugged me, and told me everything was going to be okay. And then he got busy with some chores and fixed dinner. God bless him. My kids got to work doing the things they had neglected to do and I quietly folded the no-longer-countable loads of laundry on the bed while I processed it all, slowly as usual.
We had a nice family dinner, watched The Voice together, and generally moved through the rest of the evening peacefully and without any tension. It's amazing what shifting the focus from us to Jesus will do to our hearts, no?
This morning my pastor posted something about meanness and anger being rooted in fear.
Fear crept in for just a minute… Just one minute and I lost my mind. I took my eyes off of His promises and I started worrying about money and logistics and all the 84 thousand things I need to do and Satan had me right where he wanted me. Crazy and mean.
So today as I'm processing (thank you for joining in the fun) the first freak out of this sort that I’ve had in almost a year of working on this whole ginormous thing I started, I’m preaching a lot of things to myself… Like, how there’s no shame in our need of Him. Like how I need to not let my pride make me lose sight of the big picture. I seriously went back to my Instagram feed to see what all God has taught me along the way so I could remember how to be a nice human and not do that to all of us again. I remembered how He’s told me to remember, trust, and wait… Ha!
Speaking of waiting: I took my friend Amanda to have some skin cancer cut out of her face yesterday. Yup, that’s how fast I lost grip of my perspective. Its like two hours later and I’m wrapped up in made-up troubles… She was so brave. They took a layer, bandaged her up, and sent her out to sit with me in the waiting room until pathology determined whether or not they got it all. Then she had to go back and have them take another layer. And then wait. And finally, they sewed her up. We had almost six hours to chat and in that time I asked her if she had anything she wanted me to write about. She said, “You should write about waiting!”
Fun fact about me: The very best way to torture me is to tell me there is a surprise coming but that I can’t know what it is or when it will happen.
It. drives. me. insane.
And that’s where God has been holding me for like two years. I know He's growing me out of my impatience because He’s all like,
“Hang on, baby girl… it’s coming. And it’s gonna be AWESOME!”
The first time He said that the conversation that followed went like this:
I said, “What is it?! What is it?!”
"I can’t tell you, but it’s going to blow your mind!”
“Well, what am I supposed to do in the meantime?!”
“Just remember my faithfulness, trust me, and wait for it to come.”
"But what IS it?!”
“Just be patient and believe in my promises. Keep moving and doing what I say and when it’s time, it will all be revealed. Trust me. It’s worth the wait.”
So I’ve been waiting. Pretty patiently. Most of the time... But yesterday, fear crept in and I got anxious.
My friend Ashley told me recently that she was reading somewhere that excitement and anxiety are caused by the exact same chemical process in our bodies. We can shift our thinking and realize that what we’re worrying about could be thought about as something to be excited about instead. We can train ourselves to change worry into excitement. Woah.
So, yeah, why would I worry when He’s promised me that everything will be awesome in its time? I can choose instead to be excited and expectant about what’s to come, knowing that it’s going to be better than anything I can even imagine! Can I keep my crap together long enough for Him to deliver? Nope. Not without clinging to and keeping my eyes on Jesus. Clearly.
He can remind me to be excited about His promise of provision and ever-expanding capacity as I follow Him. He can gently usher me back on the path of kindness and grace when I veer. He can help me prioritize my to-do list if I'll talk to Him about it. With Him, I never have to do the overwhelmed thing. I can move confidently, in love. No fear allowed.
I guess I’m figuring out that He’s teaching me how to be better at waiting. Mostly, He’s showing me how to wait without complaining. I used to want to whine and beg like a spoiled child, demanding my surprise right now! But He’s graciously showing me how to build my patient endurance so as the race picks up in pace, I can handle it. He’s adding things for me to carry as I wait and follow so I can get stronger and handle more over time. He’s making me better while I wait.
So, my flash of insanity, spurred on by fear, just slapped Satan right in the ugly face. He thought he could cause me to feel like I was being crushed under the weight of everything God has so generously allowed me to carry. But, I’m now more committed than ever to getting stronger and stronger while I wait for my first class, all-star, perfect-in-every-way, miraculous surprise. Why would I settle for anything less than God’s best? After all, "You rush a miracle man, you get rotten miracles.” -Miracle Max, The Princess Bride
How do you handle waiting? Please comment so others might be encouraged and helped! What are your go-to verses when you’re feeling impatient?
I have a super practical tool for you if you’re struggling in the waiting or dealing with fear, anxiety, or other unpleasant thought patterns. I’ll email it to you if you want it. Just use this form to let me know.
As for Krista’s humor in the face of my freak out, I want to say this:
We never thought it was a good idea to quit our jobs. As each of us walked through that process separately and unexpectedly, we knew that it was a GOD idea. Those are always ideas worth running with.
What is God prompting you to do that fear and anxiety might be holding you back from? If you want more practical tools like the one I’m offering here, or if you want to discover the God-sized dream that God has for you, you better grab your ticket to Collected-LKN before we sell out! The event is on November 18th in Cornelius, NC. Learn more here.