Thursday, January 5, 2017

Enoughness is Real

During Christmas break we traveled to Minnesota. The first morning there, we got ready (which is admittedly a task when your kids aren't used to living out of suitcases) and set off for the Mall of America. I've never seen it so busy. The noise and commotion was incredible and the thing about fatigue is, that kind of thing exhausts you. I already had a headache and after a tour through the American Girl store, I told Brian I needed to sit down. I was dizzy when I turned my head and my body felt shaky and weak.

He took my purse and led us to an unoccupied bench. I laid my head on his shoulder and breathed. Here I was, at the beginning of a big fun day, and my body was already done. I felt surprised and disappointed. I kept asking myself, "Don't you want to push through this and make it happen?" But the obvious answer from my body was, "I can't." It was a moment for me, there at the edge of my limitations. I could see my favorite store from where I was sitting and I imagined all the pretty things (which would normally make my heart flutter and give my feet wings). Nothing. I looked at my kids and heard Chandler say he wanted to visit the Lego store. Nothing. Tired put its foot down and there was nothing I could do.

Helpless. Powerless. Those are words I grappled with when I processed this experience in therapy. I asked myself what it meant to be overwhelmed by something. My trauma shouted, "You'll get hurt!" And truly, when something terrible has happened to you, these things are illogically connected: powerlessness and harm. But this isn't always the case. You can be overwhelmed by things that are okay and even good, like falling in love. My need for rest was overwhelming, but I wasn't harmed. So if powerlessness doesn't mean harm is pounding down my door, it's not a reason to panic.

And if it's not a reason to panic, I don't have to ask myself to always rise above everything. I realize I just used a ridiculous amount of superlatives, but that's exactly how ridiculous my expectations have been. I demanded I be strong enough to go toe to toe with any force in the universe and tried to puff myself up so big, they would all just slink away. I cheered myself on with things like, "If you want it badly enough..." fantasizing my desires were so powerful, anything opposing them would shrivel and die.

This has not been my experience, of course, and the discrepancy between how powerful I wish to be and how powerful (or in control) I actually am, tells me I'm not enough. Not even close.

Sitting in therapy, I pictured this (below) while I thought this thought: I am just one of the forces in nature. 

Sometimes I will overcome and sometimes I will be overcome. 

Also, I am human and get tired and need rest. This isn't bad. It's natural. Even my mall meltdown wasn't bad persay - it was a natural result of how hard I'd pushed in the weeks before Christmas and having fatigue. No big.

But it SEEMS big when you take it as proof that when harm comes, you won't have what it takes to ward it off. That's how my trauma translates situations where I encounter my limits. "See? You're like a sitting duck." If you're also a control freak, you may notice we avoid situations where we'll reach our limits and have to deal with the reality that we aren't all-powerful.

But it's okay that I'm not. Why? 

Because there's a force in the universe who is above me and below me and all around me who CAN go toe to toe with any force in the universe and win 





When harm comes, as it will, it can't touch my ultimate safety. God's all around me and no force can get through him to touch the real me. Who I am, everything about me, is hidden in Christ. Come hell or high water or loss or death, I am safe. 

So what does this do for my efforts to orchestrate life? 

I feel like I've been standing at the front of a classroom, and the teacher has just asked me to take my seat so she can get on with things. Oh, I don't have to run this show? 

I sit down in my rightful place and feel the relief. There's instant stress in hustling to be as strong as God. We weren't made for it and we know it. We see how far we fall short and decide we aren't enough.

But from my desk, I realize no one asked me to be up front or have all the answers. 

I was always supposed to just sit here and learn. I can do that. 

So I'm enough. For real.

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