Because life can be exhausting

I wish I could go back and tell my kindergarten self to appreciate and actually sleep during nap time.

Because that little girl is going to miss it greatly when she’s an adult.

I think we all go through periods of life that are more exhausting than others. It seems like there will never be enough hours for adequate amounts of sleep, the madness will never end, and we’ll be in perpetual states of zombie-like existences. After all, there’s simply no time for rest.

To be perfectly honest, I’m tired. Really tired. For years now (probably beginning some time during college), I’ve averaged about four to five hours of sleep each night. I’m aware that adults are really supposed to get between seven and nine hours, but that’s obviously not happening.

And let’s be real: Lack of sleep is not the only thing that makes us exhausted.

Life is hard sometimes. We deal with things that wear us out or leave us hurt and emotionally spent. We face situations that require so much of our energy that it’s difficult to expend it in other areas of our lives, as well.

My friend recently had her first baby, and her life has definitely changed in drastic ways. We met for froyo the other day, and she apologized for not being as perky as usual. She mentioned that there was baby throw-up in her hair, she hadn’t showered in two days, and she had attempted to throw on a little bit of makeup so that she looked somewhat presentable. She also lost her dad last week and yet is somehow keeping herself together. She’s exhausted.

Another friend of mine is going through a difficult breakup and all that goes with a broken heart. Crying sure can wear a person out. She’s also trying to remain strong and positive at the same time, and she still has to go to work and go through many other aspects of her life as if everything is normal. But she’s exhausted.

I met a man on the elevator the other day who was on his way to catch a plane to Chicago for a meeting, and then he had to turn around and fly home that same night. He travels quite a bit throughout the week for work and said he does a lot of day trips like that, and the weekends are spent going to his kids’ soccer games and making up for lost time with his family. He seemed exhausted.

I’ve been in a rough patch for quite a few months now and feel drained a lot of the time. I’m trying to make some bigger decisions than I want to deal with, and I’m also trying to forget about something that just won’t go away. On top of it all, on Friday I found out that I have to have a more invasive surgery than I originally thought. I’m exhausted.

We all have very different situations, and we all deal with them in different ways. When my friend with the newborn asked me how I’m doing, and I said I am really tired, I apologized and said I shouldn’t say that to her. But she said something I’d expect to hear from her: “It’s not a competition. I want to hear about it.”

And she listened.

snoozefest
Moments after this pic, my sister, Audrey (my parents’ dog) and I were all three snoozing.

She’s right, too: We all have our own reasons for feeling worn down, and we shouldn’t compare ourselves to others. Instead, we should simply be there for one another. People need people. No matter how busy we get or how tired we become, it’s always important to make time for people. If you throw yourself into your work or your training or whatever it is you focus much of your time and energy on that has nothing to do with the important people in your life, and you never make time for those who truly matter, at the end of the day, what do you have?

Exhaustion isn’t exactly a comfort for the lonely.

The difficult periods usually don’t last forever—and time doesn’t last forever, either. When you’re feeling exhausted, remember that there are people who care about you and will be there for you if you let them. And also remember that others out there are tired, too. You don’t know the story of every person you encounter, so try to keep that in mind and show a little compassion any chance you get.

I’m going to try to start making more time for others but also still finding plenty of time to rest and sleep. Sure, I’ll have to make some changes to my schedule, but I think I can do it if I’m diligent about it.

Besides, I don’t want to look back years from now and wish I could tell my 32-year-old self a bit of advice that I should have known all along.

That “FRANKIE SAY RELAX” T-shirt is wise

I’m not always jealous of infants and toddlers, but I think they have something going for them with that whole required nap time thing.

It’s genius.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not very good at resting. Don’t get me wrong–I love a good nap, but I often have a difficult time letting myself slow down long enough to do pretty much nothing. But, what I have come to realize is that “nothing” is sometimes actually so much more than “something.”

I went on the women’s retreat with my church over the weekend, and at first I was somewhat stressing about it. I mean, I just felt like I had so much work to do on so many different things, and an entire weekend away was a lot and not exactly what I needed. Well, it turns out it was actually so much more than what I needed.

I was reminded of three extremely important truths on the retreat that I overlook far too often:

Disconnecting isn’t always a bad thing. I think it’s quite easy to get caught up in constantly checking emails or social media networks that we often forget that it’s OK (and even healthy) to escape from them every now and then. Leave work behind you for a bit. I was able to chat and have authentic conversations with people all weekend without a phone constantly in my hands. And there was no need to take and post a boatload of pictures, either. A picture may be “worth a thousand words,” to some, but I’d prefer a genuine chat with actual words any day. (I’m not saying I don’t love pictures and never post them; I’m simply saying not every single moment has to be documented.)

Everyone has a story. You might read that and think, “Duh,” but how often do you actually consider that in your daily life? We’re surrounded by other individuals–many whom we don’t know–yet we rarely take the time truly to care about who they are. Maybe the person who rolled her eyes at you when she saw you were struggling with the self-checkout process while she was standing behind you at the grocery store is going through a rough divorce; perhaps the man who cut you off on the highway is rushing to be on time to his son’s last high school baseball game ever; it’s possible that the guy at the gym you think is cute won’t look your way because he’s trying to recover from a broken heart; maybe your workout buddy has been moody lately because she’s enduring some storms in her personal life.

Sometimes we have to look at situations and try to see beyond what’s simply on the surface.

I enjoyed getting to know so many different individuals of all different ages and walks in life over the weekend and being able to hear their unique stories. We all have stories–sometimes we just need people to listen to them.

PEACE
Yes.

True peace does exist. We live in a very busy world. It’s full of chaos and struggle. The madness can consume you if you let it. But there is so much peace in Christ. Just seeing the work of God in nature can be enough to make you sit and stare up at the sky in wonder. How does He do it? And why does the same God who created all of this love me in spite of how flawed I am? Being reminded of His crazy agape love He has for us–a love that loves us simply for who we are–is comforting in a way that I can’t explain. It provides a peace like nothing else can or ever will.

Every once in a while, it’s good to get away and find that rest and relaxation our souls long for and need. Your iPhone (or whatever you non-Apple people use) can’t function for you if you don’t charge it. Similarly, people need their own versions of recharging in order to live life and to live it fully.

And when you find that peace, you may discover just how big of a “something” that “nothing” really is.