Early last week I found myself in a hard place. The shooting in Orlando continued to weigh on me. The hatred and sadness of our world was overwhelming me as two more of our staff members were faced with significant difficulties in their personal lives. I had been sick. My to do list felt insurmountable, yet there were still Vacation Bible School details that had to be taken care of because we were preparing to welcome over 300 children, in addition to the 150+ youth and adult volunteers. I couldn’t remember the last time I cooked dinner for my family, and my son was starting to rebel at having seen so little of me (which usually means he tries to make up that time by waking up multiple times in the night!). Yet again, I found myself digging deep just to push on through the shame I felt of not being able to do it all, promising myself and others it would be better next week.
But then, as I sat in worship on Sunday morning, I realized why everything was feeling so hard. As I looked back upon my week, I realized just how badly I had neglected my prayer life. I’m not discounting or ignoring just how overwhelming the items that had been weighing me down were, but I was reminded yet again how prayer affects my ability to handle all that comes at me. And, again, reminded that I am not Super Woman; I am human. The title of “Reverend” in front of my name, or the degrees hanging on my wall (Figuratively, that is. I still haven’t gotten around to getting those framed and hung!), don’t exempt me from neglecting my spiritual life.
And so, early on Monday morning, I went and sat in the Sanctuary. In the quiet, with the sun streaming through the stained glass windows, I stopped. I allowed the heaviness of all I had been carrying to sink into the pew with me. I had no words other than “help,” and “here.” And I took deep, focused breaths, breathing in God’s goodness and love, and breathing out all the worry and fear and pain. Then I got up and went to smile and greet VBS children and their families and see the incredible joy and wonder on their faces – and was renewed again!
But, that’s not the end of the story! That night I decided to pick up a book I had bought a couple of weeks ago. (An actual book with words printed on pieces of paper bound together, and not simply on a screen!) The book is The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are by Brené Brown. In the introduction, I read:
“In early 2008, when my blog was still pretty new, I wrote a post about breaking my “dig-deep” button. You know the dig-deep button, right? It’s the button that you rely on when you’re too bone-tired to get up one more time in the middle of the night or to do one more load of throw-up-diarrhea laundry or to catch one more plane or to return one more call or to please/perform/perfect the way you normally do even when you just want to flip someone off and hide under the covers. The dig-deep button is a secret level of pushing through when we’re exhausted and overwhelmed, and when there’s too much to do and too little time for self-care.”
As you can imagine, I was hooked! (And, because it was actual paper, I got out my pencil and underlined, underlined, underlined!) Brown has done lots of research on shame and vulnerability and has written this book on “Wholehearted Living” as an antidote. She goes on to say that in her research she found:
“Men and women who live Wholeheartedly do indeed DIG Deep. They just do it in a different way. When they’re exhausted and overwhelmed, they get
Deliberate in their thoughts and behaviors through prayer, meditation, or simply setting their intentions;
Inspired to make new and different choices
Going. They take action.”
Not only was I hooked, but I was thankful. First of all, I was thankful that I was already on track with my thoughts around prayer and the neglecting of my spiritual life. Secondly, that I was not alone!! And thirdly, that I was able to see the way God was working, simply through a book, to remind me of these things.
So, as our staff kicks off this new blog, I am publicly declaring that I am human. I don’t have it all figured out yet – and even when I do, I don’t always do it! And I need the community of those who are going through the same thing, those who have made it through, and those are wiser than I, to inspire me and hold me accountable to live life in the wholeness of what God has intended for us.
It is our hope that as we share different thoughts or things that have been going on with us, our connections and our community will grow – Together!