When a change of plans reminds you that you’re enough

Life is weird and unexpected and crazy and difficult and wonderful and confusing and chaotic and interesting all at once.

And it’s beautiful—so, so incredibly beautiful.

I own a planner, but sometimes I don’t know why I even bother with it. Sure, it helps to remind me of appointments and plans I have, but it also gets filled with too many tasks that shouldn’t necessarily be added to my already-almost-overflowing plate. I often feel like those unaccomplished things on my list are staring back at me, mocking me with words that make me feel like I’ve failed. Like I’m not doing enough. Like I’m not giving enough of myself. Like I’m not trying hard enough. Like I’m not succeeding enough. Like I’m, simply put, just plain not enough.

And even though I know those thoughts are all lies, every once in a while, I let myself believe them.

This isn’t my author bio photo, but it almost was.

I wrote a book (which I can’t wait to share with you VERY soon), and it’s filled with constant reminders that you are enough—that you are valued, and you are loved, and you matter. And all of these things are true about myself, too. So why do I let these feelings of running a never-ending race in which I’m doomed to cross the finish line in dead last get to me so much?

I blame it on being human and having emotions.

I sat across from my dear friend and mentor Cristy earlier this week and poured my heart out with these feelings to her. I tend to bottle my emotions, so they all come out at once when I least expect them to, and the tiniest thing generally sets them off. She sat there with me and listened and spoke truth into me and reminded me of my value and in Whom I find that value. She encouraged me to take time later that day to rest—to do nothing and to be OK with that.

As a teacher, I’m a fan of spring break, because we truly do need rest more than we realize. I took some time that afternoon to lie in the sun by the pool and bask in its warmth. I turned on sounds of ocean waves to take me back to my days in California when I would sit on my favorite lifeguard tower or the sand and stare out at the ocean (I miss you with my whole heart, SoCal) and did something I hadn’t let myself do in far too long: I relaxed and did nothing. It felt so nice.

Almost 80 degrees and freezing

After a while, I decided to dip my toes in the water, and my reaction would have made you think that I was attempting the polar plunge in sub-freezing temperatures. It felt crazy cold! For some reason, though, I wanted more of that. I’ve been trying to increase my running mileage and speed lately, so my legs have been taking a beating. Even though I hate ice baths with everything in my being, I thought it might be good for me to suffer through one. I stared at the water, letting it challenge me to a dare. I went and sat on the side of the pool and dangled my legs into the coldness, the water only coming up to about the middle of my calves.

I don’t like the cold. At all. I don’t think that it’s a good idea for people to experience it, but some insist on being fans of things like snow and skiing and using the air conditioner. I don’t get it. As I looked down at that water, though, I knew that I was going in it soon. I didn’t want to, but I needed to—for reasons beyond a simple ice bath. Before I could talk myself out of it, I slid into the water until my legs were completely submerged. And even though I acted like I was a passenger on the Titanic who suddenly found herself in the middle of the icy Atlantic Ocean with no door that was clearly big enough for two people to float on, I survived.

I needed that victory.

I only lasted about seven minutes, but I did it. To me, that moment felt bigger than being able to highlight items off of my to-do list. While I was in there, I read from a book that sweet Cristy had given me earlier that morning, and there was a truth in there that I needed to be reminded of in this season fo my life: He will never put me where He cannot sustain me.

Saw Jules at the airport

On Wednesday, I went with two other teachers and 13 kids to D.C. for a film competition. I felt like I was running on fumes, but I knew that I needed to be there. It was only a few hours after we arrived that the organization in charge of the contest notified everyone that it had made the decision to cancel it entirely. After communication with our district, it was decided that we would all come home as soon as we could get a flight back. We ended up being in D.C. for barely 24 hours, and it felt like one of the longest days that the earth ever rotated around the sun. All of us were tired and confused and frustrated that the organization waited until everyone had arrived to make that decision, but one thought kept resonating in my mind and heart.

He will never put me where He cannot sustain me.

Good thing she isn’t actually driving yet.

Life won’t go as we planned all of the time—probably even most of the time. But I know that that’s a good thing. If everything panned out the way I wanted it to, I’d be much more of a mess than I am most days. The reality of my life can’t always match what’s written in my planner, and I feel like I’m in a continual pattern of learning to embrace that. I want the days when I end up jumping into cold water. I want the days when trips have plot twists, but you end up making some hilarious memories on an unexpected journey. I want the days when my heart feels emotions that it didn’t predict it would feel. I want the days when I can sit in the sun with no concept of a schedule. I want the days when I remember what it was like to be a carefree kid again and have zero worries in the entire world. I want the days when the storms blow in, and I am stuck on my sofa with nothing to do but nap.

And I forever and always want the days when God reminds me of his immeasurable love and grace and sufficiency in ways I never imagined.

Remind yourself that you're enough

I hope that you don’t have to question whether or not you’re enough in any area of your life. And I hope that, if for some reason you do, you are immediately reminded of just how much you are valued. None of our days will be perfect, and that’s OK. Sometimes it’s best to embrace the mess for what it is and replace your frustrations and anxieties with joy and gratitude in the small victories.

Because those seemingly small victories are often much more significant than you realize.

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.