I’ve always seen characters in movies and on tv shows have that magical breakdown moment where they just LOSE IT on someone. They reach their limit. They get pushed to the edge (much like Curtis, the husky, bacon loving child from Wife Swap all those years ago). The character just lets all the words fly. They let out all their pent up thoughts and anger and frustration on whoever is the lucky recipient. And I had one of those moments. On Friday. In my office. With my co-supervisor present. IN FRONT OF MY BOSS.
I wish I could say that it was an eloquent speech, one that I’d thought through and practiced to make sure I didn’t lose my “edge” (HAH. I have no edge. If you know me at all, the only edge I have comes out when I’m advocating for children and teens who have no one). I wish I could say I didn’t cry or almost slam my head on my desk because I was so tired my arm couldn’t hold my head up. The truth is…I lost my marbles and it’s because while I’ve been so focused on taking care of everyone else, I’ve forgotten to take care of myself. Let me preface this post-I work for a great nonprofit. I love my job. My cosupervisor is a gift from Jesus. My immediate boss has been on maternity leave for three months and before she left, we had worked so hard to help me keep boundaries to save my time and to also be able to serve my team the best way I knew how. When she left… that all changed… and I’ve been struggling ever since.
Last week, I walked into work on Monday and was feeling pretty good. I felt okay. My head felt clear, I woke up early enough to actually thoughtfully consider what to wear. I put makeup on while standing in my bathroom instead of using my rearview mirror on the way to work. I had matching shoes. I FIXED MY HAIR WITHOUT THE USE OF LAYERS OF DRY SHAMPOO AND HAIRSPRAY. For once, I felt like I had it together enough that the facade wouldn’t be completely false. I don’t like having to keep up appearances, especially the ones that I feel like I’m only keeping up with because of the people who placed those “appearances” on me. So, last Monday, I kind of felt like I had made it through the hardest part of my summer, I was one week away to my normal coming back! And I hadn’t had a total meltdown since one of my staff members told me I was the reason they hated their job in June… or in July when the other staff member told me I never taught them anything about the job and I was the worst. I hadn’t had a personal screaming fit in my car during the middle of a work day in what felt like ages (don’t kid yourself. It was maybe a month ago the last time I had to run out to my car). I was so close… and then I got that email. At one point in my day, I had to turn off my computer and just fill in my planner. After Monday, I came home and crashed. Same thing happened Tuesday. Wednesday was a long day, followed by Thursday. And by Friday and reading several emails and me feeling like a complete failure at my job, the limit was met. I had nothing left. So when my boss came in our office to ask me and my cosupervisor about something completely unrelated, I was already defensive. As she started to ask us questions, I was answering and keeping my eyes down and feeling the huge tears form behind my eyes. When my boss asked me why I was being defensive, my first response was “yeah I’m defensive. I don’t feel like I can do anything right…and I’m tired and I have nothing left.”
I don’t write this as a “woe is me” piece of literature. I write it as a warning… a warning that if all you do is serve other people and you never allow yourself to be poured into, you will lose your marbles. I love people. I love the fact my parents raised me and my sisters with this amazing love for others. I don’t remember a time when we weren’t out in the community giving meals to those who didn’t have anything. I don’t remember a time when we weren’t driving through downtown and my dad rolling down the window to give money to a homeless person, or my mom taking us to the Goodwill to donate our personal things to kids who didn’t have anything. That is an amazing thing to have your life built on and it’s something I want to continue to build my life on. What I have realized so far on my “vacation” time is that I can’t continue you running myself in the ground. I can’t keep acting like I have it all together when I really don’t. I can’t keep Jesus at arms length and operate out of what I think “works”. Jesus isn’t meant to be a spectator in your life; he’s supposed to be right there with you.
All this to say, I know I’m not the only one who loses their marbles. Don’t feel like you’re the only one who doesn’t have it all together. Don’t feel like you have to have it all together. If you lose your marbles one day, there’s always another day for you to try and pick them up. It’s okay to aspire to serve anyone and everyone. It’s okay to be an overachiever. It’s okay to aspire to win everyday. And its definitely okay to ask for help. Asking for help is the best thing that could ever happen to you. I think the best lesson I’ve learned so far, is that Jesus wants to teach me how to rest in him and how to really take care of myself. Man, Jesus just gets it. And that’s a good thing, because I definitely don’t get it. Well, I kind of get it. Just when I think I do get it, I very quickly realize I have so much more to learn.
“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light’…”