The Sink that Broke the Camel's Back

12:34 PMHeather

I knew then. Right smack dab in the middle of the Verizon store. 

Have you ever been in the middle of a situation and you can see how you are reacting, like some out of body experience? And it is quite telling, to say the least. Because when your buttons are pushed and that one little thing (which really isn't a big thing at all) sends you over the edge... and you know that you gotta get it together. 

Maybe someone cuts you off in traffic and up until then, you thought you were holding it all together pretty well. But the intensity of your reaction tells you otherwise. 

When the tiniest little straw breaks the camel's back and it serves as a big fat mirror to your own condition.

A big fat mirror that is screaming, "You should not really be this unwound. Quit fooling yourself! You are puddling over something that is not a big deal. Get over yourself!"

Getting over myself is my new mantra when I see that what I'm doing and demanding and wanting is really contrary to what God wants me to do.

Like maybe taking a chill pill and showing grace when Verizon drops the ball for me as a customer.

Like choosing to see the bigger picture to realize what I'm frustrated with is really a first world problem. And I am allowing it to steal my joy for the day.

So I came home that night and did the only thing I felt capable of doing. 

I climbed into bed and called it a day.

And then I said this little prayer, "Lord, I'm done. I admit, I'm not okay. Truly, for no good reason that I can see. But, I'm struggling here. I don't know why. I don't know why I'm letting these things get to me, but they are. So help."

Wouldn't it be nice if that is when the heavens parted and an audible voice came through some huge ray of light from the ceiling and showed me the way out of it all--revealing to me how to get a grip, woman.

But, nope.

Instead, I laid in bed feeling guilty for feeling so tired and worn from just life. You see, I am a perfectionist and I have a lot of trouble giving myself permission to struggle in any way, much less giving myself permission to just rest when I am in a season of struggling.

So, there I was. In a litmus test of life. And my two hours at the Verizon store was proof that I'm a woman on the edge. And even worse, a woman on the edge who thinks I shouldn't be and doesn't know how to get it together and keep it together.

Basically, I'm a mess. As far as the reasons for my unraveling, as I tossed in the dark that night, I finally came to some conclusions. 

This is a season of mothering where I am being challenged to let go.

Like a lot. Like for reals. 

To let my kids leave my home to go on trips and adventures without me around to make sure they don't forget to brush their teeth or take their meds or monitor their choices. 

It's a whole lot of letting go of control.

And pretty much, I hate that. 

Because truth be told, while it was physically exhausting to meet their every demand in life as babies and toddlers, I had a measure of control over most things. 

Now, the physical demands have diminished. My people can fix their own meals and handle all the basics in life. Some do their own laundry. One drives himself anywhere he needs to go.

But the mental and emotional exhaustion is at a whole new level. Because their playground is becoming the whole wide world, and I can't sit on a park bench just inches away to intervene anytime I see trouble or danger lurking nearby.

Instead, I have to loosen my grips on the reigns and for the love, trust them to the God I've taught them about and release them to His care. 

And His control.

Pretty much, this summer, God has been hitting pretty hard on the reality that I am not God and I am not all knowing or all powerful. 

But He is.

I wish I was doing better at absorbing these hard lessons of surrender.

I bet Jason and Kelly at the Verizon store also wish I was weathering it all better, too.  Instead of watching me about to lose my mess when my plans fell apart because they couldn't make good on something.

So I was limping along at the airport the next day when I put child #2 on an international flight all by his little lonesome self. He was off to Canada for three weeks of fun and family in the cool breezes of northern Alberta. 

He was ready. Which was helpful as I tried to convince myself that I was ready. But inside, I just felt this crazy mix of pride and angst and worry and joy and sorrow as a flood of mental images crossed through my brain. 

Like when he was a little boy, with that huge back pack strapped on as he entered the world of kindergarten.

That's what I saw when he strapped on that big back pack as his carry on, offered one last hug, and said good-bye while the gate agent scanned his boarding pass. 

I turned to my husband and said, "Will this ever get easier? There's just nothing but leaving for the rest of their lives! They'll leave and go to college. Then they'll leave and get a job. Then they'll leave and get married. One child at a time. This is my lot in life. Will I feel like my heart is being ripped out Every. Single. Time?"

(Oh, yes. Being married to me is all sunshine and rainbows)

It was just about at that moment that I got this text from my oldest child, who was home with our youngest child.

Him: "Ok, I need to show y'all something when y'all get home..."
Me: "WHAT?"
Him: "I think it's best if I show y'all when y'all get home."

That's when I immediately dialed his number, while my heart is all falling outside my chest as the big jumbo plane is pulling away from the gate with my younger son on board.

I can't even describe to you bloggy friends what my first born was telling me.

Because that's when this just happened. 

Examine exhibit A.



It felt like a metaphor for my emotional state this summer. As I'm all falling apart with the lessons of surrender and the call to release things to God's control.

I'm falling off the wall here. 

I feel like I'm just coming apart. 

I sent this photo to my dear accountability and prayer partners. My snarky and sincere posse who listen and respond and joke and support me, even when I'm falling off the walls.

One of them summed it up:

"You're SINKING!"

Indeed. I'm sinking. I'm sinking in this season of all that God is trying to show me. It's brutal and hard work to lay yourself on the altar and ask God to bring you to freedom. Because it means you have to unchain yourself from your idols of being in control and your handcuffs of worry and unbelief. It means you are coming to a place of seeing how desperately you need his grace. It means you have to loosen your white knuckle grip on comfortable things to take a leap of faith into new things. 

That's what happens along the way of learning to live on the unforced rhythms of grace instead of relying on your own performance.

It might feel like being torn and broken in two.

I haven't figured out exactly the best way to cope with all these emotions along this journey. Although I know I probably owe a big fat Starbucks drink to two certain employees at Verizon.

And I know that I can rest assured that even when I'm sinking, God is right there along the way. He even offers friends along the path who can laugh WITH me. Truly, WITH me, not at me.

Right?

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