I’ve learned something new about myself this week. Something that’s probably obvious to those who know me intimately but I’m a slow learner when it comes to the truth about the way I see myself. I don’t like what I’ve seen, not one little bit.
On Monday, I woke up to the alarm clock–H’s alarm clock–which is set to go off later than mine. I’m the first one up in the morning, responsible for awakening my Rip Van Winkle’s from slumber. This isn’t a good way to start your week.
After walking blurry-eyed across the house to the bedroom doors of my children, muttering nonsense while leaning on their door jams, I fired up my computer to publish the link to my guest post. And I discovered that the last three posts on my website vanished.
This unwanted recurring theme has become a staple on Monday for the last three weeks. I’ve awakened to the frolicking ways of evil computer gremlins in the darkness that enjoy robbing my peace at dawn.
But this time, it was the final straw pulling down the pile of other worries I didn’t realize were teeter-tottering on my chest. Every bit of scaffolding I was using to hold myself together collapsed in an instant. The heaviness became unbearable and instead of asking for help, I did the unthinkable.
As tears were streaming down my face, dripping on the legs of my flannel pajamas, I held the phone up to my ear listening to a computer geek talk techno gibberish. When H walked into the room, sniffling from a virus and late for an overnight work assignment, I physically pushed him away while he was trying to be helpful and compassionate.
I don’t multi-task well. When I’m on the phone and someone tries to talk to me, it incites anger I didn’t realize took up residence. But my knee-jerk response in a moment of crisis was to push the one person away who loves me the most.
Because when my responsibilities don’t go the way I plan or expect, I don’t feel like I deserve to be loved like that. Being vulnerable seems suffocating and shame feels safe. What I learned about myself this week: It’s much easier for me to be the one giving help than the one receiving it, because I can control that. Or at least that’s the lie I was believing in that moment.
I can handle it myself can be the most deceiving paradox.
While the world says we must be capable, learned, experienced and confident, Christ calls us to be dependent and needy. I chose the former and lost myself in the process.
My coping drug of choice is perfectionism. When I go there, instead of the lap of Jesus, it’s like popping the tab open on a can of shame that’s been well shaken. It spews into every emotional crevice that says, “You aren’t enough.” And once fully entrenched in the exhausting cycle, I tell myself that I must now give up and quit. Everything. That’s what I posted as my status update on Facebook.
While feelings are real, they don’t often tell the truth. You know that, right?
But this is the beauty of the communion of the saints.The truth, it was spoken back to me in comments, texts, personal messaging and phone calls, within minutes. Honestly, I didn’t expect to be humbled like that.
My initial response was to push it away like I did with my husband, I couldn’t even look at Facebook or answer the phone calls. But when I surrendered all of it to Jesus, I received the love like a Father comforting his children. It transformed an ugly day into a piece of beautiful topography in my story.
The next day, as H and I were talking, he told me he was praying for me on the drive back from his meetings. He asked God to encourage me after all I’d been through. He didn’t know about the thread on Facebook and the unbridled acts of kindness until I told him about it.
Then God parted the veil and revealed what redemption looks like through the countenance of joy and relief on H’s face. When the sun rises tomorrow, I will redeem His gift of mercy with thankfulness.
Thanks to all of you who offered prayers and encouragement to me this week. You’ve left an indelible imprint on my heart and I’m grateful.
Linking with Tell His Story, Imperfect Prose and Chatting at the Sky.
Everyone needs a reminder every now and then of how much we are loved. You are no exception. I’m glad that God did that for you this week.
I agree Shelly, that was the takeaway for me this week. I needed to know that. I’m feeling quite humbled by what happened. Thank you.
s.m.i.l.e.s and tears….I think we are cut from the same cloth, my friend.
Glad to know I’m in good company Jody.
So happy you let us in. We, as in I, need that lesson too.
I thought there might be too many I’s and me’s in this post but my prayer is that it would be helpful for someone. Your comment blesses me.
Love the way God uses us each to lift us up out of days like this one, Shelly. Especially when it is to bring healing to old ways we think of ourselves…I just had to list your link on my current post, because I can see an echo of sorts… 🙂 Pam, apples of gold, http://wordglow.wordpress.com/2013/12/04/ebenezer-stone-wednesday/
Thank you Pam, its great to hear from you. Hope you are doing well friend. I’ll check out your post in a few.
The “echo” I am thinking of is not so much in what I wrote in my post, but the thought behind the theme of “ebenezer stones” – you’ll see what I mean :). Praying your computer issues disappear for good too! Know how frustrating and scary it can be when you put so much into something like this writing…
It was a joy to pray for you … we all need each other.
Thank you for encouraging me Glenda, you are a blessing.
I told you to hang in there till tomorrow, that there would be a good word waiting for you. That’s my mantra. Wait until tomorrow to pass judgement on today. And always look for that word
Well, you are right and full of wisdom. I kept asking God to redeem the day and He is always faithful to show me the redemption in bad circumstances. He’s awesome that way. Thank you!
Can I steal that mantra, David?
That's supposed to be a heart. 'Cause I love you.
I see that heart and thank you Deidra. Right back atcha. You are a gem in my life.
Totally true. I graduated with Rip Van Winkle! 🙂
Ha! That is funny.
I think you’re vulnerable every time you click “post”. My eyes see no shame, only beauty marked by redemption. Thank you for being honest. We all need more of that!
What a lovely thing to say Rachel, thank you. Loved connecting with you yesterday and seeing all that snow accumulate out your windows. It’s going to be 78 today and the leaves are still turning here . . . my kids are grumpy about it, they want cold weather. The grass is always greener isn’t it?
I was told many years ago to remember that feelings are not facts. That has been a useful piece of information. Shelly, I am glad that H was praying for you and that your friends rallied around you and that God redeemed the day for you.
Thank you for always encouraging and offering prayer support Carolyn, even in the midst of your own pain and hardship. I appreciate you.
Yes and amen. Thank you for walking me through it. I’m about to respond to your message in a bit. Lots of love to you today.
I learned that lesson about receiving the hard way–on my back in a hospital room. I had no choice. But you do and I am glad that you chose to open up and receive all that God has for you because he loves you so. And when all is out of control–well, it really isn’t. He’s got it! You are a gem!
He’ll do whatever it takes to get the message across won’t he Kelly? I want to be listening and attentive, but sometimes the stress drowns out his voice. But he is faithful still.
LOVELY. Thanks for writing it out for us, Shelly. As Jen Lee might say, “smooches!!”
**mwah** — that’s my word for smooches right back Diane.
I am so blessed by you, Shelly. Thank you for how you show *you* in your writing, beautiful you.
Jennifer, I don’t want there to be too much of me and I in my writing but today, I guess it called for that. Thank you for your sweet encouragement, it blesses me.
It’s amazing how God works. And also?–I’m shocked at how alike we are. I often struggle with pushing away help and comfort, God is working on me, and He is working in you. These words bless me! Love you!
I know, its freaky how much we are alike. I feel like we are mirrors for each other and I’m thankful for that. He’s always working, even when we think we’ve mastered something, until the day we draw our last. Love you too!
The thing that’s often hard for me to remember… Scripture tells us to encourage each other. We strip them of that opportunity when we don’t allow ourselves to be vulnerable. Love you big, friend.
Sandy, you know, I hadn’t really thought about this that much until you pointed it out. I needed your words. I was starting to feel guilty and embarrassed by this whole episode, but you’re right. If we aren’t vulnerable, we miss the blessing that goes in both directions.
Amen, amen, and amen. I pray that the example of vulnerability and honest seeking within the community of faith is one I can model. I was blessed as much by your desperate cry as I am by this now. I struggle with this and reading your words cast light and hope on my greatest fear…that I cannot get out of my own way to get to God.
Peace and good as always,
I am thanking God with you for hope. We need hope in our desperation. And I’ve started a discreet Facebook campaign if you haven’t noticed, of being honest about the stuff that isn’t always pretty. We need to let people know we struggle and our days aren’t perfect, so they don’t feel alone in their hardship.
Shelly, just on computer for first time while in Dayton! So sorry you have had such a rough week. It is so true that the definition of stress is “when things are out of your control” and isn’t that the whole truth of life….reading your post, am so glad things are better. Your emotional honesty is cathartic for so many!
Hope you’ve had a good time visiting friends in Dayton Paula. I’ve wondered if the terrible weather is going to impede your drive back home.
Just found your site through Rebekah. I love your message here about stepping into community when we are most vulnerable. I am learning this lesson myself, and it’s HARD. But the rewards…so worth it
It’s nice meeting you through our link ups at Rebekah’s Chris, thanks for stopping by to introduce yourself. And yes, I agree, being vulnerable is scary but when we are brave, its the most rewarding thing we can do.
Shelly, I did see your post on Facebook and while I did not comment, please know you were in my prayers. Sometimes I’m more comfortable lingering in the background. But I so felt your heart here. I’ve been so blessed by the community of friends showering me with love and prayers recently. On the more difficult days at times I want to keep them at a distance but I try to be quick to remember that God has placed them in my life for a reason. I try to remember what it is like to be on the other side of wanting to be the person to lend a helping hand. What I’m trying to say, I’m really trying to not be so quick to keep the people who want to love me at a distance. It can be easy to do though can’t it? Especially on those difficult days when we feel unlovable. Loved hearing about your husband praying for you. There is such power in prayer. Truly beautiful. I’m always so touched by your transparency. Thank you.
Thank you for praying Beth. I’m trying to be better about reaching out and not hibernating when I’m struggling with my imperfections. It’s hard, sometimes feels a bit humiliating but the rewards definitely outweigh the fear of being vulnerable.
‘what an incredible post, Shelly. I identified with all of our words and you are so right, comforted realizing I am not the only one struggling like this. Thank you for your honest sharing. Isn’t blogging a wonderful way of finding the words to express how we feel and to savor and capture our journey?
I so needed this blog entry today. Your quote, “”My coping drug of choice is perfectionism. When I go there, instead of the lap of Jesus, it’s like popping the tab open on a can of shame that’s been well shaken. It spews into every emotional crevice that says, “You aren’t enough.” And once fully entrenched in the exhausting cycle, I tell myself that I must now give up and quit. Everything.”
smacked me between the eyes and heart. The lap of Jesus is a much wiser spot to go than my own unforgiving head. This has been me for a couple of weeks and me on and off over the years. Thank you for giving it words so that I can now see more clearly and with God’s help choose more wisely.
God is going to bless you BIG TIME, Shelly, because of your sweet, humble spirit (Proverbs 15:33). In fact, it’s already begun. Look at all the comments below–a tidal wave of ripple effect! No doubt the knowledge that your words have touched hearts brings great satisfaction. Enjoy it as you turn it to gratitude and praise (which I know you will, because that’s the kind of woman you are)!
Oh Shelly, I love this. I’m going to schedule it right now to share on Monday. It’s just the sort of thing I think we all need to remember on a Monday. <3