This one’s for the few but faithful folks that visit my blog and wait expectantly for posts and tweets. The last week or so has been rather crazy. And from what I hear, I don’t seem to be in the minority when making that statement. It was the first week of school for most people, which naturally carries with it an unusually high level of stress. But this post isn’t going to be about ways to manage stress or cope with crazy (although those are topics on my blog post “to-do” list). This one’s going to be a little more personal. It might not be one that reaches a broader audience, but it’s something insightful nonetheless and my hope is that you might be able to see a piece of yourself in my story.
I’ve been going through a rough patch. Some people like to debate whether or not “overwhelmed” is a feeling. I say it is. It’s one that can practically smother you if you’re not careful. The thing that makes feeling overwhelmed so dangerous is that it’s not always foreshadowed with gloom and doom. Your life can be filled with excitement, joy, anticipation, goals, and prospects. Couple these healthy stressors with a few negative relationships or burdensome commitments, however, and you’ll soon find yourself knee-deep in trouble.
I have a lot going for me: I’m establishing an online presence, I have a steady and well-paying job, I’m starting at a “real” university, I’ve started on some freelance work, and I finally feel like I have a vision for the future.
That’s a lot on my plate. I work 18 hours a week at one college and travel to another university for my 15 credits worth of classes four days a week. I’m also raising a 4 year-old daughter, serving on the Celebrate Recovery leadership team at my church, and going to physical therapy multiple times per week. I’m running a blog, promoting myself through social media, and writing freelance articles too. All while trying to maintain my sanity. It’s a lot.
I tend to downplay it: “Other people do all of this and more. Why can’t I do it?”
The answer? I can.
I’ve been told it multiple times; usually by the people I swore would be the most unlikely to utter the words. Never in my wildest dreams did I picture the people who saw me in my darkest moments to tell me, “No Brittany. You’ve lost your right to say you can’t. You’ve done the impossible. After everything you’ve survived, this will certainly not be the end of you. You are a miracle.”
We never ask for hardship, desperation, or the feeling of being utterly overwhelmed by what life has brought upon us. But it’s usually in these moments that I’m most able to witness and experience an outpouring of love. You’d think after all this time I would realize this fact and come to expect it, yet it still sweeps me off my feet. The way God uses hardship to draw us into relationship with both Him and others while refining us, making us stronger, and revealing our inherent worth as human beings continually astounds me.
The people who saw me at my worst refuse to let me be anything less than my best. Those who have believed in me through it all still encourage me through my doubts. And there are always new people joining me on my journey; bringing hope and meaning to my life, always telling me that I’ve done the same for them.
I know that I can do it. What it really comes down to is how I do it. That’s a choice I get to make. This period of my life is stressful, yet it’s full of potential. I get to decide whether or not I make it glorious. So I think I’ll knock my course load down to 12 credits instead of 15. I’ll take a few steps to manage my temperance. I’ll eat.
To most people these decisions come naturally; they’re common sense. You might not understand it, but for me it’s more difficult. They’re things I have to mull over and do with great intention.
Some days we feel like we don’t really have a choice in the matter; all we feel is utter exhaustion. On other days we’re filled with frantic excitement. But, while life is full of ups and downs, most of our days are spent in the middle and it’s on those days that we get to make a choice. We get to decide which side of the spectrum will shape and define our thoughts and actions. It’s that daily decision that colors and flavors our lives for years to come.