swimming


Lately I have felt like I am drowning. And I’m not usually this girl…but I have written about a similar feeling before here. That I am just trying to get through. And as soon as I find my feet. Something else seems to land in my way and push me under again. And I feel ridiculous because theses things aren’t so rough. And I'm mostly fine. It is just that things seem to keep coming. And as soon as I recover from one thing. I get hit by another. I wrote something new about it about a week ago, but didn’t really know how to wrap it up or where to go with it. Or even if I wanted to put it out there. Because I don’t like to be a complainer or have people email me and ask if I’m ok or hint that maybe I should take some meds.

But then this morning I picked up a book that I've already read, and read this. Again.
http://www.shaunaniequist.com/storage/media/learningtoswim_chapter.pdf
It is first chapter in Shauna Niequist’s book Bittersweet. And I heart Shauna. But I almost never read books twice. I’m not even sure why I picked it up. But I did. And she said exactly what I have been thinking lately. But better and without being surly. I even realized I had written one of the exact same lines in an email recently.

And so, below is what I wrote last week or so…..not nearly as good as Shauna and way more whiny:

This morning was a rough Monday morning. Except it wasn’t a Monday.
The husband who usually has morning duty is in another time zone. Which means I am getting my kids up, dressed and fed (no easy feats)…an hour earlier than their usual times. Plus, I have to be out the door at a ridiculous time myself…and I was already late yesterday. This morning was looking even worse.

Owen complained about his stomach, but I offered him a donut and hustled him along.
I dropped Tess in her class room, and sent Owen into another.
Again, not his usual routine at all…but what I have to do when Shaun can’t drop him off at school.
And as I’m about to get in my car, a teacher runs out and tells me that he is throwing up.
I rush back in. And watch him wretch a second time all over the carpet.

This is problematic for multiple reasons and so far the only upside was that someone else was going to be cleaning up the puke.

And I struggled to make decisions about who to call, and what to do. I had meetings and a field trip and it was way too late to be calling in for a sub. And when I did I was told that getting one was really doubtful. And that was enough for me to be done. Maxed out. Stressed. Five seconds away from tears.
And a little perspective. Not such a big deal. People out there are dealing with real stuff. Disease. Foreclosure. Divorce.
I’m just had a sick kid. And a complicated schedule.

But, recently I feel like it has been one thing after another. And my normal half full outlook is being tested. Things in my life that are normally easy. Seem suddenly hard.
Work. Friendships. Marriage. My health. Even just remembering to pay the water bill. Which I also just learned the hard way that they really mean that cut off date. And trust me, nothing is more humbling than walking next door and asking to borrow a pitcher of water.

And it always feels like everything hits all at once.
As soon as I find my way back to my feet.
I trip over something else.
One thing after another.
And I keep thinking it has to end. Things have to turn around. Haven’t I already dealt with enough this week. That I have had my fill and it is someone else’s turn.
And I go back to that old cliché. God never gives you more than you can handle.
Which I think that is baloney.
And that it isn’t at all biblical. And I’m pretty sure if anyone had tried to tell Job that he’d have slapped them in the face (or at least wanted to!)
I have always hated that phrase,
Mostly because it always seems like the little things do me in. And this means that God knows I am a pansy.
It is the harsh comments and locking my keys in my car and hitting all the red lights that seem to break me.
I sweat the small stuff. Especially when the small stuff seems to keep coming.
And so, I’m pretty sure that the opposite of that cliche is true. God pursues us. Continually. Persistently. Without relief. And it isn’t a matter of not being given more than we can handle. And the God I believe in doesn’t test or punish, but he doesn’t waste things either. And he is more than happy to remind me that I am not supposed to be handling it at all. That was never my job. That maybe being given too much is a chance to stop trying to carry it. That drowning is really a chance to swim.
And more importantly that it was never supposed to be about me to begin with. The story is so much bigger than that. 

So back to some Shauna Niequist. You really should go and read the whole chapter. Or just ask me to borrow my book but in case you don't…. Here are some of my favorite snippets:

"I learned about waves when I was little, swimming in Lake Michigan, in navy blue water under a clear sky, and the most important thing I learned was this: if you try to stand and face the wave, it will smash you to bits, but if you trust the water, and let it carry you, there’s nothing sweeter. And a couple decades later, that’s what I’m learning to be true about life, too. If you dig in and fight the change you’re facing, it will indeed smash you to bits.
It will hold you under, drag you across the rough sand, scare and confuse you.. If you dig in and fight the changes, they will smash you to bits. But if you can find it within yourself, in the wildest of seasons, just for a moment, trust in the goodness of God, who made it all and holds it all together, you’ll find yourself drawn along to a whole new place, and there’s truly nothing sweeter. Unclench your fists, unlock your knees and also the door to your heart, take a deep breath, and begin to swim. Begin to let the waves do their work in you."


And that sounds like relief. No matter how many waves keep coming. And so, mid-October may not be swimsuit season for most of us….but after reading that I was ready to stop fighting. Or just getting through it. Or even just trying to talk myself out of the fact that it is hard, because I don't think it stacks up to someone else's hard. And instead to start swimming. Letting the waves carry me rather than keep crashing over me. I’m just hoping that since it is fall, and mostly pants season, I won’t have to actually shave my legs first.

3 comments:

Kate said...

My worst moments are always when I think I have to stick and hold firm. I'm going to butcher the orignal, but i have to remember to be like a reed, and bend with the winds. But I don't want to bend. I want thngs to go my way. You know? I love the swimming metaphor. It's perfect. The joy of being caught up in something so big and powerful and loving.

Working on flexibility and letting the waves carry me.

Christine said...

I think we can all relate. I too feel like I am drowning. I know it is not big stuff but it IS all of the little stuff that happens all at one time. As I type this, my puking kid is on the couch.

Sarah said...

Damn. I'd better go pay my water bill. . . And I know we never see each other, but sometimes when I read your stuff I feel like we're kindreds. I'm going to steal the bittersweet quote, too!