My extended blog break–at least this time–is somewhat intentional. I really wanted to wait until I was mentally in a better place, or at least until I could frame my thoughts differently. But–that moment hasn’t come yet, and so I write with all the candor that is me, and all the baa-humbug that defines my mood right now.
There is an old nagging feeling that generally comes toward the end of the fall semester, generally around or immediately following Thanksgiving. For the last two years, I’d escaped it, so much so that I’d honestly forgotten about it. Yet, this year, here it comes again–burnout. I began to notice right after the Thanksgiving holiday how increasingly tired and cranky I seem to be, and how much harder it is to complete the everyday tasks associated with being wife and mom. Forget the non-routine activities that accompany being a church worker, a friend, a business woman or employee. It’s a lonely place to be in the midst of all the holiday joy that surrounds me.
Don’t get me wrong. I love the Christmas season, and this year, we’ve actually had cold weather, so it feels more like all the images we generally associate with this time of year. We’ve had some holiday fun.
The youngest was a born star 🙂 , sharing her whole three lines with passion and fervor in the kids’ Christmas play at church. In all seriousness, there is nothing like the simple praise of a child to remind of what the Lord wants from us all.
I wish I could have looked at those events from a different perspective; from the mind of a weary well-doer, they were quickly diminished into just one more thing to do.
Earlier today I was sharing with our son my own thoughts of the very last pages of Know What You Believe, which speak to the ultimate judgment of every believer and non-believer. I had written a closing prayer, for lack of a better term, in which my final words were, “a life poured out for You, Lord, a life poured out.” I thought about what that really means, and it occurred to me that today, I really did feel empty, as if everything had been drained from me.
It’s not just burnout that’s bothering me. One of my favorite uncles passed away on yesterday after a battle with cancer. I began to think about his family and how hard it will be each Christmas season as they recall the last memories of their dad. Then I began to think about my own father, and how it was about this time 15 years ago that he began a very quick descent after an almost undetectable spot of lung cancer found its way to his brain. He lived only six weeks after we moved him here for more advanced medical treatment. I hadn’t thought about all of that in many years, but that’s the thing about misery; it looks for justification to be miserable.
As I stopped today to clean out the dead foliage amongst all the flower pots (another sign of my state of “funkiness”), I couldn’t help but think that, the frustration of it all, is that I really don’t like feeling this way. We have a ministry at our church that assists people who need extra comfort during the holidays, either because of lost relatives or some other memory. I totally respect that, but I want as much as anyone to enjoy this season and to be renewed before the coming of the new year in the comfort of our Lord, who was born to die so that I might live. So, with our church’s annual Christmas concert and a couple of parties coming, I’ve been taking some deliberate steps to prayerfully give me a fresh outlook.
1. I remind myself that there are others who wish they were in my shoes. These shots of the 2010 Paralympics were a part of our youngest’s current events today; what more measure of blessing does one need?
2. Take the focus off of me. It’s given me great joy to give to some friends this year who’ve really needed help and comfort. We’ve had several opportunities to donate time to the church, packing food and decorated grocery-filled boxes. This weekend, the kids will pick their annual gift to another kid through World Vision.
3. Tap into those holiday traditions that bring me joy. I missed “It’s a Wonderful Life,” but I plan to watch “The Nativity Story” very soon. I love the way Mary’s quiet obedience is portrayed in this more recent version. Amidst all the persecution, she holds to her love of the Lord, and she gains a respect and an eventual affection for Joseph. Striking up some Christmas music would be the cherry on top.
4. The two elementals that undergird all of these other activities are prayer and rest, and those are the two things I’ve not done enough. So, the kids have 8 days of school left, including tomorrow. We have a couple of parties and one more parade that I’m praying my way through. We then take three weeks off. In between now and then, I’m so thankful for family and friends who will call their sister-in-Christ’s name before the Lord.
There it is, and I’m sure it’s almost as painful to read as it is to write. Nevertheless, it’s where I am, at least for the past week or more. May my honesty bless someone else who’s looking forward to feeling better this season. I fell better just writing it, and hopefully getting it off my proverbial chest will be on the road map to getting back to myself.