Still at my parents' house, snowed in. The kids and I stayed up late enjoying the good ol' cable tv.
I slept hard and deep, the particular sleep of being a child once again. My parents are almost 70 years old, but nothing about them is "elderly". They are capable and active and being here always gives me a certain measure of relaxation and a chance to be something other than The Only Grown Up In The House.
So much seems to be happening in and around me lately. Recently, I remarked that I was "struggling". I guess that's a good word for it, though it feels a bit less active than a struggle. Some days I feel paralyzed. Others, I'm just tired. It's hard to be creative. Insecurity lurks underneath the edges of daily life. I recognize some familiar signs - isolation, fear, feeling responsible for every negative thing, seeing all the things around me that I cannot or do not do.
I know there's some spiritual tie-in here. The standard line is that if you're not being with God on a daily basis, if you are not living in Christ, then you'll struggle to maintain the daily challenges of life. Compound that with the responsibilities of working for an institution whose primary concern is leading others towards spiritual health, and we have a recipe for some difficult days. I will admit that I'm spending more time doing than being, although I'm trying to be. I'm captivated by what I'm reading in the Bible these days, but the daily routine of study and reflection and prayer is haphazard at best. It seems like there's always so much to do, and the doing gets in the way of the being.
Yesterday, I read these words about leadership:
"Hey leader, just give up. Throw in the towel, raise the white flag, just quit trying so hard... After all, is this really worth it? Aren't you simply tired of taking arrows in the back from your own team? Hasn't it been long enough to try to change their minds or ways? For all the hard work you've been doing to try to help your organization with no one recognizing your efforts, really... just relax, go with the flow... you'll have less headaches and your days can be so much easier." Mark Meyer
It terrifies me to admit how much I relate to those words.
Not so much because I'm feeling beaten up by my team; just that those words of surrender sound so tempting.
Not too long ago I was living deeply in the realization that God had led me to leadership. I was embracing it, relishing it, and accepting the reality of where I was, how I was serving, and my capabilities. I even wrote about it here.
The joy of that realization feels a bit more like a burden these days. And the fact that I can't enjoy it, live it up to it, embrace it, forge ahead - all these things bear down on me with the crushing weight of four small words that have chased me throughout most of my life.
You're not good enough.
This seems to be the boulder at the base of my gut, the foundational core of my being. It is fed, lately, by every mistake I make - every forgotten detail, every neglected email, every error in judgement, every single thing I could have done better. It fuels the illusion of perfection that has dogged me all of my life.
I thought I had beaten this thing; I thought that therapy and counseling and good decisions and a healthy work environment combined to heal the rawness of this belief that has pushed and pulled me in and out of so many of my life decisions.
I guess not.
It's still there.
Funny, the leader in me recongizes that there's a great spiritual application here; that the basis of my need for Christ in line with my faith system says that this is exactly where I have to start. "I'm not good enough; I need Jesus." Unfortunately, this cycles back to another negative; "You know better. You need to straighten up and fly right. You know the answer to this problem. You are capable of more. Get yourself together! Clean your house! Get back to exercising! Do the right thing!"
So perhaps the issue is not so much that I'm stuck in the personal negative, but that I'm not functioning clearly in the spiritual positive. The truth; the notion that in spite of the reality of my "not-good-enough" status, there is something - Someone - greater. The "propitiation for our sins".
I'm tired. I'm feeling older. I'm having trouble keeping a workout schedule. I'm dragging around ten pounds that annoy me. My house is a cluttered mess. I'm mildly anxious about my financial future. One of my friends is moving on and it makes me very sad. My eldest daughter is graduating. My kids are growing up. I am falling short in so many ways.
I hesitate to post this, because my blog now feeds into Facebook. This confession might be read, far and wide. Part of me struggles with the thought that people who see the "Sunday Beth" might feel cheated, knowing that the cheerful, excited, energetic piano playing Christian is, deep down inside, fighting all sorts of unpleasant battles. The leader in me is afraid that if you see me real, you might not like me so much. Or your spiritual life might be damaged. But I've been there before, and the cost of pretending is too high.
And aren't you just like me, deep down inside? Haven't you been here too?
Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good. - Romans 8.26-28, The Message