Saturday, October 22, 2011
There's the feeling of anxiety that rises up inside every time I walk into our garage. I think maybe it's the fear of drowning... in all the boxes, precariously placed odds & ends stacked on themselves, random homeless objects that so desperately need a place to call their own. I get a similar feeling when I walk into a casino, with all that sensory overload; except instead of blinking lights & smoke to stress me out & make me want to run for the door, it's the panic of knowing that all the sensory overload is coming from my stuff-- that it belongs to me, or at least is under my umbrella of responsibility, and that no one else is going to make it better except for me & my hubby.
About every-other week, we make a valiant effort to tame the chaos, like taking a machete to the edge of a rain forest & trying to beat it back. Sometimes, there is a small sense of accomplishment, but after a few days, the futility of it all sweeps over me again as all the flat surfaces are consumed by papers, tools, clean & dirty clothes, and millions of work-related objects that crawl in during the night.
But the root of it is that all the chaos really is just a physical representation of how I'm feeling inside. It does feel like I'm drowning sometimes-- like I'm just barely keeping my head above water while I carry our work & ministry & family & all the regular everyday duties of life. I have spent so many weeks aching for the weekend, waiting to catch my breath, worn out & disconnected, and honestly a little whiny. The whiny, worn out ache sometimes compounds, as unexpected obstacles get in the way of the rest that we had been looking forward to.
What's strange, though, is how difficult it can be to take the moments of rest when they present themselves. It's tempting, when I feel like a limp rag after putting our toddler to bed, to flip open my computer and spend an hour online doing nothing of real significance; or to click on Hulu & catch up on a few TV shows. It is so much easier than thinking or conversing or engaging life-- nothing against all those activities, but sometimes at the end of the day, I've just had enough of all the relational stuff.
The thing is, though, I never really feel restored after shutting myself off like that. Yes, I've taken a break, and sometimes we just really need a break... but I know that it wasn't really what I needed.
Chris & I have been trying lately to set aside one day a week to just rest-- not to make plans with friends, or work on the house, or run errands, but to just spend time as a family & read books & take naps & go for walks (I know, we've invented something truly revolutionary-- don't tell anyone). I realize that this whole Sabbath concept has been around for a couple of years now, but to be honest, I don't know many people who actually observe it-- and I certainly never have made an intentional practice of it before. We haven't quite nailed it yet, either-- there are weeks where obligations creep in or activities get planned, and it seems like I can always tell, come Monday, when I haven't done a very good job of protecting my Sabbath.
Looking back over the last few months, it seems like a bit of the weight has been lifted from our shoulders. I don't carry that same semi-desperate feeling that used to always lie just under the surface, hoping for a free second to breathe. And in those moments when I get a little time to myself, it helps to ask, "Is this something that will actually restore me, or am I just looking for a fix?" Although I am rusty & clumsy at it after being out of practice, forcing myself to write is a step forward towards restoration.
We have also learned the beauty of asking for help, which has been a bit of a hard step for someone who prefers to be on the giving end of help. I suppose it comes from a fear of not earning my keep or being seen as needy or spoiled, but it can be tough to admit that I need help & to accept "charity". But as the drowning feeling increased, I threw out a need (for help with child care) and discovered dozens of people eager & willing to help. It has been amazing, beautiful and humbling to receive from so many generous friends, and to feel even more of that weight lifted off my shoulders.
So even though the garage is still a riot of boxes in various stages of un-packed-ness, and even though I noticed dark circles under my eyes the other day, I am confident that our tiny shuffling towards rest has actually brought about the restoration (even in tiny doses) we've been aching for. And I celebrate the little victories.