Do the next thing…

It’s been a long, frustrating week.  It’s too much.  There isn’t any of me left, and there is so much that needs to be done.  So many things come up and all I can think is “Lord, I can’t do One.  More.  Thing.”  I can’t think or focus or give…my mind and my heart are full of THINGS and they are big THINGS…I can’t be a good missionary today.  Or a good mom or a good wife…

From an old English parsonage down by the sea

There came in the twilight a message to me;

Its quaint Saxon legend, deeply engraven,

Hath, it seems to me, teaching from Heaven.

And on through the doors the quiet words ring

Like a low inspiration: “Do the next thing.”

Many a questioning, many a fear,

Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment, let down from Heaven,

Time, opportunity, and guidance are given.

Fear not tomorrows, child of the King,

Trust them with Jesus, do the next thing.

Do it immediately, do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;

Do it with reverence, tracing His hand

Who placed it before thee with earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence, safe ‘neath His wing,

Leave all results, do the next thing.

Looking for Jesus, ever serener,

Working or suffering, be thy demeanor;

In His dear presence, the rest of His calm,

The light of His countenance be thy psalm,

Strong in His faithfulness, praise and sing.

Then, as He beckons thee, do the next thing.

 

Maybe…I can do the next thing.

 

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There will be peace in the valley…

One of my very favorite songs of all time is “Peace in the Valley.”  I am partial to Dolly Parton, but I’ll listen to anyone sing it.  I especially love the line that says “And I’ll be changed…changed from this creature I am…”

I am, on any given day, a hot mess.  I’m a walking bundle of nerves, with an anxiety level that makes my doctor wonder why I’m still walking around.  I take medication for my anxiety (Please don’t judge.  Just. Please.) and although it helps, it doesn’t completely shake the feeling of dread that lives in me almost all of the time.  I read my Bible.  I pray.  I read books by women who have conquered anxiety.  And yet…I fret. 

My poor husband.  Second only to “I Love You” in our house are the words “What’s wrong?”  “How can I help?”  “What can I do?”  And I have no answers.  I don’t talk when it gets really intense–I just shut down and walk around inside my own head.

We were apart from June 26th-July 26th.  My heart missed him so much that it physically hurt.  We talked every night, via Facetime, and every night I cried when I hung up, just wanting him here.  He arrived last Friday night, and I’ve spent the last four days worrying because he’s disappointed in me.  Our room at my sisters was a mess.  A MESS.  There were four of us, including my two teenage girls, living in that room, and it was a disaster.  Dan and I, we don’t like messes.  I had finally just given up on trying to keep it together, since I was running all over the place for the girls and trying to get things under control with them, but when he arrived all I could think was “He’s disappointed.”  Neither of the girls has their license yet.  They had an appointment a few weeks ago, but I forgot about it, and so we had to reschedule.  I’ve apologized 100 times for this.  I don’t think he really cares–he doesn’t seem concerned–but I still apologize.  My sister says I apologize too much.  I told her I was sorry. 

I cannot wait to be changed from this worrying creature that I am.  I want it to happen now–this freeing me from my anxieties–but at this point I’ll take the promise that it will happen in heaven.  Just as long as I don’t have to spend eternity this way.  Because really?

It’s getting old.

There will be peace in the valley
For me some day
There will be peace in the valley
For me, Oh Lord. I pray
There’ll be no sadness
No sorrow, no trouble I see
There will be peace
In the valley for me.

 

Retreat…

I’m a retreater.  For instance, right now, I am supposed to be at a gathering for my department.  I am, instead, at home listening to it rain.  And retreating.  Some people, when life gets tough, rush headlong into the fray.  I can’t do that.  Even on my best days, the thought of rushing into the middle of things is enough to bring on a migraine.  On days like today, when the stress is piled in the corners and sitting on the stairs and knocking on the front door, being with people would send me into a catatonic state.  It’s not that I don’t like people.  I do.  What I can’t handle is just…being there.  Making small talk.  While my mind is running elsewhere.

I saw a quote today that said something like “Everyone needs someone that they can say anything to without the fear of rejection.  BE that person.”  It’s true.  And being that person doesn’t mean that someone has to speak.  Just listening, without judgment, is OK too.  I have a hard time with this.  I know that I have people in my life that would be that person.  What I can’t bring myself to do is talk.  It’s so much easier to just stay here, inside my own head, where no one can hear my thoughts.

I live in a culture where, if you mention to someone that you’re worried or stressed, their immediate comeback is “Why would you be worried?  You have Jesus.  People who have Jesus cannot be worried.”  End of conversation.  I wish that were true.  Maybe it is for you.  But for me, it’s just one more reason to feel guilty about myself, about my faith (or the perceived lack thereof) and about my inability to just “let go and let God.”  And the last thing in the world I need is guilt.

All of this to say that if you know a retreater–someone who just has to be alone–don’t criticize them.  Don’t beg them to join you because “they need to get out and stop moping around.”  And for goodness sake, please don’t get angry with them because they aren’t dealing with life the way that you think they should.  Because believe me…they are doing the best that they can.  And it’s taking every single ounce of emotional and physical energy that they can muster to just keep holding on.

“Courage isn’t having the strength to go on – it is going on when you don’t have strength.” ~ Napoleon Bonaparte