Grateful Heart

Right now things are hard in my world. It’s not hard life changing problems. It’s hard like every two minutes another tiny thing gets piled onto my list of tiny issues and I’m becoming overwhelmed types of problems. As I write this, I’ve had a rough weekend and it appears that I’m moving into a rough week after last week ended on a bad note. The weight is piling up on my shoulders.

What do I do when this happens?

This morning I was reminded that when I have troubles, the answer is to pray. It is the verse of the day. Yesterday, I was reminded that it’s not my job to do all these things. It’s not my job to control everything. As I write this, I’m reminded of my favorite quote from one of my favorite books.

“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater his effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders – What would you tell him?”

“To shrug.”[1]

I’ve embarked on this month with the mindset that I don’t need to do everything. But somewhere during these two weeks, I forgot to stop doing that. Somewhere I forgot to take care of my mental health. I forgot that I can’t fix other people. I forgot that it’s my nature to work too hard when I don’t have to. I forgot that I should just let people be who they are. I forgot that I decided to shrug.

I don’t mean that I’m not allowed to care. I have to care in a healthy manner. I can’t fix other people, I can’t take on someone else’s problems, I don’t need to prove that I can handle all the things all the time. I can care about others without having to fix everything and always be in charge. I can just listen.

Because I forgot, I’ve lost my mind again. Even so, I’m finding my way back. I’ve pulled my serenity prayer back out because I’ve been reminded to give my cares to God and to pray when I have troubles. I’ve got a book from the library “How to Stop Losing Your Sh*t With Your Kids.” I’ve got another book called “The Smart Step Family.” We’ve got an appointment with a counselor. I’ve enlisted my husband to help me because I’ve once again lost my sh*t.

Over the last week, I’ve become angry, lost my temper, and yelled. I’ve relied on some coping mechanisms – leave the room, take deep breaths, take a walk, go lay down and cry, journal, and identify the trigger. I’ve gotten lunch and drank some water – because I know I get hangry. I’ve decided to enlist help of repairmen and put tasks off my list and onto my husband’s list. I’ve decided to stop asking why when it doesn’t serve the intended purpose.

I’m forcing myself to keep self-care on my list. Self-care is everywhere right now. It’s different for each person. It’s important for each person. What is self-care for me? It’s protecting my feelings, my body, my rest, my mental health.

It’s coloring for five minutes. It’s making a list of the things and then reassuring myself that I don’t have to do it all right now. It’s watching television alone so I don’t have to think – no binging, that’s escapism. It’s putting together a scrapbook page or two. It’s reviewing a photo album and reminiscing about happy times together.

It’s making a list of things I’m grateful for. It’s thanking God for all the blessings that he’s bestowed on me. It’s remembering that I’ve gotten the things that I’ve asked for and knowing that it doesn’t make it easy just because I’ve gotten them.

Marriage doesn’t look like happily ever after – sometimes we don’t work well together. Parenting doesn’t look like sweet smiles and snuggles all the time – sometimes we yell. Home ownership sometimes looks like one too many DIY projects when work gets busy out of the blue. Sometimes, it’s impatience, not enough money, not enough time, not enough energy, and the wrong ingredients for dinner. Sometimes, it’s smeared mascara or an ugly cry on the bathroom floor.

Because life is hard.

Then, it’s pick yourself up, dust off your knees, and keep going. Failure is a learning experience, relapses are part of the recovery struggle, and it’s okay to be human. In fact we can’t help being human. On bad days and on good days, I’m reminded to be still, to stop striving, that God is in charge. I am not perfect, all powerful, or in control of anything these day.

I’m thankful for that last one the most. Every day I need that reminder. I can’t do it all, I fail, I cry, I keep going because the God I serve is bigger than my problems.

At the end of the day, I can shrug because the God of the universe has my back. I shrug because my God will love me even when I fail. I shrug because even when things are hard I have a whole list of blessings. I shrug because even my problems are something that I am thankful for.

What about you? How is your day going today? You holiday seasons? Your year? Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

[1] Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand

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