Many years ago I had taken a writing course with the author Julianna Baggott. She was great. Not only a wonderful writer but an articulate, funny and caring human being. One day we were talking about plot and character development and she used the author of "The Fight Club", Chuck Palahniuk as an example. He is known for adding much conflict to his characters' stories. Just when you think the character is dealing with a lot, more tough situations are dumped on him. As a reader, one gets to see how the character handles or doesn't handle the stress.
Do you ever feel that you are having to do as much as you can handle and then even more things are showered upon you? That feeling of being so overwhelmed that you know it is only the shear volume of the things that are surrounding you, that keeps you upright. You would collapse but there is no where to fall because the stressors are on top, beside and below you.
This morning I was feeling that way. The irony is that I am in the middle of writing the curriculum for a five week class on prayer. Talk about a living example! Talk about a reality show! I am praying for strength like you wouldn't believe. I wonder if I can handle all the volume of things on me?
Here is what I am learning in this process:
1) I have to read the Bible every morning. If I don't I will collapse. It is more than just a feel good or a "keep myself in God's good graces" activity. It is sustenance to my soul. If I didn't eat breakfast in the morning, I would not be able to be my best.
2) Delegate and let go. There have been some situations that, in my normal schedule I would be involved. But because many days I have to be in two or more places at once, I have had to let others pick up where I couldn't be.
3) Tell your loved ones what you need. I am so grateful for my husband. I have told him that I just can't think about meals for the next couple of weeks and he has taken that off my plate. (no pun intended)
4) Prioritize and say no. There are so many other things that I need to do this spring. One such item was to scrape and paint the outside of our screened porch. But I know that there is no way that I can do it. I have other similar items of household things to-do as well as commitments I had made in past years. I have had to say no and try to free up some time. Getting my father situated in an assisted living arrangement is priority number one.
5) Be kind to yourself. This one is the hardest things for me to do. For me, to be kind to myself I have to give myself permission: permission that it is okay to not do everything, permission to know that I will disappoint others especially those who think I should do everything, permission to know that I can take a little time for myself.
I also realized that I need to allow myself to enjoy the stressors. Sounds crazy but I am realizing that life is an ebb and flow of a flurry of activity and a time of stillness. I want to appreciate it all: the good, the bad and the ugly. I don't want to get through this time of my life and be angry at myself for not handling it with grace. Someday I want to look back and say that it is only through God's grace that I was able to handle all that came my way. I want to be able to point to blessings that have sprung up from the stress and give God the glory.
I want to be able to say that, "Yes, I did have April (stress) showers, but look at all the May (grace-filled) flowers."
What about you? Do you feel you are showered with conflict? How are you handling it? What steps can you take to lesson the load? Have you seen May flowers from your April showers?