It has felt good getting my body back into a habit of exercising each morning before beginning my day. I have now gotten back to the point where I feel off without it, which is a routine that I have honestly missed quite a bit. But my daily exercise and extra workouts are not the reason I am feeling thinner lately. No, the “thinner” I am feeling is an emotional and mental thinness.
At the end of his time as a Ring-bearer, the hobbit Bilbo Baggins described himself as feeling “thin…like butter scraped over too much bread”. It was a feeling of not having enough of himself anymore for life, for…anything, really. It has been over a month at home, closeted with husband and daughter, and it feels as though it gets a bit harder with each week, in which I am sure I am not alone. Rest is, ironically, proving hard to come by, and I have felt my optimism flag. Anxiety is manifesting as weariness, irritability, and overwhelm; some days, it is hard for me to recognize myself as myself. I feel poured out…worn thin.
I miss me. This thought came as a shock even as I wrote the words. I do. I miss me. I miss believing the optimism and encouragement that I pour out for others. I know it is true, but I miss believing it as much for myself as I do for other people. The tap is always on, always running, always pouring out. And yet…it feels as though if I turn it off, the very foundations of my life will shudder.
Earlier this week, my daughter’s teacher posted a very sweet permission for us parents not to be the perfect teachers to our children during this time. Encouraging us to tend to our little ones’ hearts and souls and to worry less about their academic achievements. As a teacher myself, I admit that I am having the hardest time managing my 1st grader’s Reading, Math, and Science lessons along with everything I am doing for my own 8th grade classes and students. And I have felt very much thinner and the less for that this week especially.
I have felt less for sleeping in a bit in the mornings and then not being able to fit in my workout and all of kiddo’s schoolwork before my class, office hours, or a meeting start. Less for not managing my day down to the minute to accommodate everything and taking a luxury (rest) that I apparently cannot afford. Thinner.
I am not God. Allow me to say that again, for my own benefit. I am not God. And yet I am holding on to everything so very tightly, you’d believe that I must have some cosmic responsibility for everything that is happening. But I don’t, nor do I want to.
I know what I WANT.
I WANT to spend meaningful time with my daughter that doesn’t involve some kind of fight or tantrum or fit.
I WANT to rest, to allow myself to take time for quiet, stillness. I WANT to tell my family to take care of themselves for a while and engage in some hygge without guilt.
I WANT to delve into my relationship with God, to grow and deepen in my faith during this time.
I WANT to read, to engage my imagination and intelligence, to tumble headlong into stories and wisdom and stimulating ideas.
What I AM is flustered, rushed, overworked.
What I AM is irritable and overwhelmed almost from the moment my feet hit the floor in the morning.
What I AM is poured out and depleted but with no idea of just how to say that (though I guess I just did).
What I NEED is soothing for which I do not have to work.
What I NEED is a break for which I do not feel guilty afterward.
What I NEED is to be filled up.
What I NEED is to be poured into, but we are all perhaps a bit short on that, aren’t we?
We are all in the midst of something that we do not know how to do. We are all in the midst of stress, weariness, worry, and even fear. You may be right here, too, Dear Reader, in this place of thinness, of emotional/mental scarcity. You may not have much to pour out today or this week. That is okay. If permission is what you need, then here I am to give it to you. From one “thin” person to another, it is okay. You are allowed to do just what you can.
If all you can handle with the kids is one subject lesson, then this teacher is giving you permission to let that be enough.
If all you can handle this Sunday is personal devotions and not a full-fledged Sunday School lesson with the family, then you have this pastor’s wife’s encouragement to stay in your bedroom with the door closed.
If you are home and to the point of wanting to defenestrate your dear ones, then this mom and wife begs you to take a walk (carefully, of course), a bath, shut the kids in the backyard, do something for yourself even if it is a “corrected” coffee in your bathroom at 11am.
If you are leaving the house every day to walk into an uncertain world, you absolutely have this human’s blessing to cry in your car.
We all need a place where our emotions are welcome, and yours are welcome here, Dear Readers. Always.