I’m not good with the color gray. I never have been. My whole life has been a dealing of either black or white – but very little shading, if any, in between. For the longest time, living with extremes was simply a coping mechanism – it was my own way to structure my world and gain some sense of control over who I was and what was going on in my life. Now it’s just a habit that I am working on breaking through…sometimes more successfully than others.
One aspect that I consider to fall under the “black and white” spectrum of my life is my intense need and desire to be busy – I am famous for over scheduling myself, for never saying no to anyone or anything, to working myself practically to death. This has ended me up in not so pleasant places in the past – usually parked at home on the couch very, very ill. And this weekend was no exception to that.
Thankfully, I was NOT “very very ill”, but my body was calling the shots and, for once, I stopped to listen. I knew something was up when I slept through all my alarms Friday morning and then through the 5th and final practice hour later that evening. I collapsed into bed utterly exhausted only to drag myself out of bed again at 6am on Saturday morning. I felt heinously guilty over “sleeping in” the previous day – even if it was only till 6:45 haha and so I vowed to never let it happen again. As the day went on, I began to notice how exhausted I felt (again) and how massive of a headache I was accumulating as the morning went on. Lunch came and went and I crashed. Between 1pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday I spent a total of 12 hours asleep in my bed, and probably about an addition 3-4 hours just laying there resting/reading a book. I drank approximately 60 fl. oz. of Gatorade, threw up twice, and downed about 6 ibuprofen pills over the course of that 24 hour period.
And here I sit. It is almost dinner time on Sunday – I should be getting dressed and ready to go to dinner and a concert but I am reflecting on all that my body is able and willing to do for me even after all the years of abuse it’s undergone – at my own doing. This weekend was end end of week 3 here at Meadowmount and tomorrow marks the start of week 4 – we are almost halfway through. After moving to Michigan, spending 10 days at a camp in Missouri then driving to NY and having a week of orientation plus the past 3 weeks of being both a counselor AND a student….the constant being “on” and “in go mode” has finally caught up with me. I have quite literally been moving since the start of June and so it’s no wonder that my body came screeching to a halt – I’m just glad that it did so before it got any worse and I would have been REALLY sick.
I was walking a few days ago and passed a speed limit sign that read, “15 mph” below a sign that read “Curvy Road. Drive Carefully.” and it reminds me a lot of this summer adventure. 15 mph seems pretty slow, especially when you’re driving a car, but even when a car is moving 15 mph, the point is that the car is STILL moving, right? The car is continuing to make progress and move forward – just in a way that is safer and more cautious than whatever previous speed it happened to be traveling at.
That’s what this next week needs to be for me – a quick detour a little bit of a slower speed. It’s okay to slow down sometimes. It’s okay to take things a little bit under tempo. There are people here who seem to be able to just go-go-go constantly without even the blink of an eye. But I am not one of them and learning to accept how I work – mentally, physically, and emotionally – is all a part of this process.
It’s okay to play it safe every now and again and to put yourself first. It’s okay to realize that, in my black and white world slowing down would mean weakness and failure – but, even though that was my “go-to” thought process of the past, it doesn’t have to be the way I think right now in the present. I am allowed to live in the gray zone periodically, in fact – I might like it so much that I decide to step in and out of it a bit more often.
God didn’t design us to live in such a way that we are so busy pursuing an all-or-nothing life style that we neglect to honor Him and praise Him for the wonderful gifts and blessings that surround us. Candles can’t burn 24/7 or they’ll burn out a lot faster – and God didn’t design our human bodies and minds to work 24/7 either.
I came across one of my favorite songs today – I actually hadn’t listen to it or heard it in quite awhile. It’s called, “Open Arms” by Michael W. Smith. I was listening to it and drifting in and out of sleep and the lyrics really spoke to me – they reminded me of why it is that I’m here this summer and by WHOSE hand it is that I am here.
I am here by God’s doing alone. I am here to love. I am here to be open arms. I am here to lift up the lost and show them the cross. I am here to learn. I am here to grow – and I’m here to help others do the same. I am here to become – more of who God has designed me to be, more of who I am capable of being, more of a musician, more of a friend, more of a mentor, more love to all those around.
A friend of mine said it best when they said, “You can’t do your job well if you don’t feel well. So, take a rest. Take a break. Take care of yourself and show others that it’s okay for them to do the same.”
We all need to slow down sometimes. And we all need to be open arms.
Life is just like an old time rail journey … delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.”
― Jenkin Lloyd Jones