On Tuesday evening, Garrett came into the kitchen as I was cooking dinner (assembling would probably be a better word- not much cooking to fish sticks, tater tots and mac'n'cheese). He saw the meal and made a comment, a harmless, true and poignant comment, and I proceeded to completely fall apart.
It was Tuesday, which is a long day around here as we leave the house before 8:00 in the morning. Something about one day of teaching, something about the absence of a nap and the presence of a need to be on all day, something about that completely drains me these days. And I find myself in a raw place on Tuesday nights. This night was no exception.
Garrett apologized for the comment, thought he hadn't said anything out of line, and went on to hear me stumble my way through an explanation.
"It's not just that tonight's dinner is this. It's that my life is this," I tried to explain through tears. "It's like everything I'm doing is fish sticks. Like no matter how hard I work at anything, in the end it's...fish sticks."
He disagreed and tried to talk me off that emotional ledge and we went on to eat it thankfully and watch The Voice and get the kids to bed. But I've thought about that statement this week, thought a lot about these last few months of my existence.
I find myself saying now and then, "I don't quite feel like myself." This rings true somehow, rings out in a way I can't quite articulate. My mind is slightly fuzzy, my ideas feel just beyond my reach, my words resist me when I sit to write. I'm not quite me, I say, attributing it to loss and fatigue and the everydayness of every day. But this week I began to wonder, At what point do I acknowledge that this is me, that this is me right now, that the tired and foggy me is just as much me as the clear-minded, productive me?
That thought scared me a little. I would rather think that the Real Me is temporarily broken, that my Old Self is wandering out there without me but should be back any minute and I'll simply put it back on and everything will come into focus. I resist the idea that this is the Real Me, and that my brokenness isn't going anywhere, and that there's no Old Self that will knock on the door.
This whole line of thinking has forced me to admit how uncomfortable I am with my own brokenness, and how I find accepting the help of others to be beyond humbling- almost humiliating.
In my life right now, my husband takes up so much slack with the kids. My mom comes one afternoon every week so I can run errands alone. My friend makes dinner for me on some Tuesdays because she knows that day wears me out. Another friend has stopped by to clean for an afternoon, three Fridays in a row. I'm thankful for this outpouring of support, thankful that it has kept our home functioning in the midst of this fall. But there's part of me that feels embarrassed; it would be one thing if everyone was pitching in because I was (fill in the blank: publishing a book, working part-time, being a rock star, etc.), but to think that all these people come and help and at the end of the day, there's no clean socks and I can't seem to meal plan and I'm still barely getting fish sticks on the table? Meaning: if I need a little extra help to be awesome- that's OK. But to need extra help simply because I need it, that's hard for me to face.
But this is me. This is Real Me, living in November of 2014, grappling with the reality that this fall isn't what I thought it would be, and I'm not what I thought I would be in the midst of it. And life keeps going. And there's not much to do but wake up and shower and pour cereal and load the dishwasher and sing the timeline song and read Hippospotamus for the three hundredth time and cut PBJ's and declare Nap Time For All. And I can do that in panic, comparing myself to some strange idea I'm clutching about What I Am Capable Of, or I can do it with peace, not chanting "This too shall pass" but resting in the truth that Jesus is Enough. He's OK with all this. And, in really brave moments, I embrace the truth that if this fog never passes, I am no less loved. I am no less me. I am simply me, right here and now, moving in grace to meet the day that is ahead.
It's ugly, those moments when you realize, as an adult, that your understanding of grace and love and works and perfectionism is still so rudimentary. Those moments when you see you have so far to go to see yourself in truth. Those moments when you need Jesus so much that it scares you a little. Or maybe a lot.
I'm living in those moments, learning to make peace with the here and now, learning to be truly grateful and honest with my limits, learning to chill out and shut up and just take a nap already.
So that's that, folks. Maybe your life is soaring along, and the very least of your efforts is changing the world. Maybe you're feeling in a good groove or in the midst of some healthy rhythms or loving the dailiness that is your every day.
Or maybe you don't know where you're at or how to articulate that you feel a bit banged up, or how to explain to people how you got to this place when you don't quite know where it is. Maybe you're winded or reeling from loss or confused about your purpose or feeling alone. Please take heart. This will probably, most likely pass. But even if it doesn't, you're no less you. You're no less loved. The broken you is no less beautiful, and Jesus is no less present.
Have a great weekend, friends. Catch you later.