One of the perks of my varied life experiences is that I can comfortably play many different, even opposing, roles: mother, daughter, leader, follower, teacher, and student. It’s all good, until I find myself in the midst of a role I’m not prepared for.
I have a very high capacity for giving, so it takes a lot to wear me out. But this spring and summer I had been giving and giving to so many people for so long and wasn’t taking time to recharge myself. Burn out for me doesn’t come in the typical “I give up” fashion. I can keep functioning and checking things off my to-do list, but I can’t ‘people’ anymore. I can’t sustain a relationship. I become cynical, judgmental, and lug around this “but what about me” chip on my shoulder, all the while still giving to others. It’s a terrible version of myself and it’s not who I want to be. It’s ugly. That’s where I’ve been for the last couple of months and it’s miserable.
I am a great problem solver and like to cut to the chase. (Just let me figure this out and learn the lesson so I can move on with life!) As this season got tougher, I worked harder on my own to try to connect with God and rest and read and do things that normally recharge me, but I was just spinning my wheels. You see, this wasn’t a hole I could get out of on my own. The only way out was to be carried. The only time the light shone through was when I became vulnerable with my people and reached out for their help. I hated it. I felt like a teenage girl whose behavior screams “look at me!” With hands shaking and tears in my eyes, the closest friends got some raw and vulnerable texts and emails from me. And my tribe showed up. Every time I reached out it was met with exactly what I needed. The love and encouragement and affirmation from those around me gave way to finally being able to rise from the darkness.
I’m always telling my oldest that his brothers won’t want to play with him if he always makes the rules and always wins. In the same way, my friendships can’t grow if I never give others a chance to reciprocate and be there for me the way I’ve enjoyed being there for them. In order for my relationships to go deeper I have to give my friends a chance to love me back. If I never need anything from them, I miss out on the amazing things they have to offer. They know how to make me laugh, they know how to brighten my day, and they know how to care for me. Being on the receiving end of this caretaker thing is not a role I’m comfortable with, but I’m learning to just sit and be loved.
I like seasons of life where I get to hustle, work hard, and do things on my own to make my life better. I like to be in control of how little I need from other people. When the only cure for this darkness was vulnerability and the love and care of others, it was a huge stretch for me. I am still not good at it, but I’m learning. I’m being recharged daily by the people who love me dearly. It still feels awkward to me, but love and worth are not things we were ever designed to hustle for anyway. Good thing I do awkward.