There are mornings I spend just wanting to climb back into bed. I want to start over and pretend like the past few hours of my life didn’t happen. Either I made a mistake or I wasted time, and instead of coping with it, I let it affect my attitude towards my whole day. Nothing seems redeemable in my eyes, like my morning is a casserole in the oven too far burnt to save.
The other day, I told my therapist about this problem of mine, and she naturally had some wise things to say.
“Perhaps you need to create a reset button for yourself, something that you physically do as a declaration that you are starting your day over. Instead of sitting in your failures and shame, you can “hit” the reset button and choose to start over instead of letting those things affect your whole day,” she told me.
I went home kind of excited after that, not because she told me how to solve all of my life problems, but because she gave me something to do. I now had something to work towards and aim for. My task-driven personality thrives off of these things.
So I did what she said.
I pondered what my reset button would be for a couple days and I settled on showering. Yes, I decided taking a shower will be my reset button. It will be my way of cleansing myself of all my morning impurities and mistakes. Any time I feel like I got off on the wrong foot, I’ll step into the tub as one person and step out of the tub completely different. Genius, right?
But then there are times that doesn’t work. The wiring in my brain won’t let me let go. I know I should be able to move on, but the perfectionist in me is screaming lies about my potential and my worth. How do you fight that? I’m twenty years old and still feel like a five-year-old cowering in the corner when they’ve done something wrong.
And this is when I need to cry out those pocket prayers, the four-letter sentences you reserve for times of desperation. Lord, I need you. Jesus, please help me. Save me from this.
Sometimes I feel God’s presence immediately, but more often than not, I have to wait for it. Because I have so many doubts and anxieties, it takes a minute for the reality of the supernatural to sink in. And every time, I’m surprised. Wow, God! You showed up! Of course He did. He does that, you know. But you can’t tell that to the girl sniffling on the couch who just got out of the shower and feels like she’s out of options.
I had the privilege of preaching to the middle schoolers at my church this past Sunday. After working with middle schoolers for over two years, I’ve seen my passion deepened and my gifts strengthened in ways I never expected. But when I’m given an opportunity to speak to them as more than that obnoxious girl who plays all the games on Sunday morning, I sometimes hesitate to take up that offer. I get scared of not having anything to say (as always, though, I find that I do have things to say. I’m a writer, for crying out loud!).
I gave a sermon on Sunday about being thankful and how thankfulness is preceded by hope and followed by worship (check out Hebrews 12:28). I went home pleased and exhausted. As soon as I reached my bed, I collapsed into it and didn’t wake up until two hours later.
But when I did wake up, something wasn’t right.
A storm was raging outside my window and something was raging inside my heart.
I was angry and upset with Grant (for reasons that don’t need to be discussed) and I called him to communicate these feelings to him. After an hour of arguing and whining and yelling and interrupting, we reached a point where the silence between the two of us was deafening. I’m holding my phone, fuming. He’s holding his phone, frantically trying. We’re miles apart in both distance and understanding.
And the shame washed over me.
Here I was, arguing with this man who loves me so much more than I give him credit for, and I just preached to a room-full of kids on thankfulness. I felt like the fakest faker in all the world. I preach God’s Word and can hardly live it out.
And even after realizing the fault in my attitude, pride was holding on too tight for me to just let it go. Four-letter sentences could probably fix this, but I could hardly muster one word.
So I thought one word instead. The smallest pocket prayer.
And as I was laying in my bed and holding my phone, still fuming, and he was laying in his bed and holding his phone, still frantically trying, something happened. Orange shone through my closed blinds. My room was glowing all around me. I turned over onto my stomach and peeked through the blinds behind my bed, and what I saw rendered me speechless. The storm that had been raging as we were arguing was gone, and what was left in its place was a beautiful sunset. And let me tell you, this sunset was beautiful but also eerie. Everything was tinted orange. I had never seen anything like it before.
“Grant, look out your window,” I whispered to him through the phone.
“Why? Are you there?” He asked.
“No, just look.”
I hear some fumbling and then silence. He’s speechless for a second, too.
“Everything’s orange,” he said.
And just like that, the cold exterior around my heart melted.
“I love you,” I whispered.
“I love you too,” he said back.
Tears started falling down my face as I again recognized the beauty of this man I have in my life.
And I again realized the beauty of God’s presence after what felt like a never-ending, raging storm.
That’s silly, Jessie, you might be tempted to say.
I know it is. I know it’s silly to put so much stock into one orange night. Just like it’s silly to put so much stock into showers and metaphors and reset buttons.
But when it comes to God, I don’t want to put anything past Him. I don’t want to say He can’t show up and change things.
I’m sharing this because it helps me. I write to process and I like to share what I write so I’m not alone. But I’m also sharing this because I know that things I write has helped people feel less alone, too.
So this one goes out to the perfectionists, the ones too hard on themselves, the ones wishing for reset buttons and life-sized erasers. Sometimes your reset buttons will work, but sometimes they won’t.
And when they don’t, I pray (literally praying right now) that you allow yourself to accept the grace only God can give. The grace to be yourself. The grace to move on from mistakes. The grace to let go after arguments. The grace to again set about practicing what you preach.
I need that grace. I know that come morning, I’ll probably need it just like I do many other mornings. I know that there will still be many days I leave my house feeling frazzled and disappointed. But there’s grace for when I’m feeling inside-out on those upside-down mornings.
And there’s grace for your mornings that are like that, too.
My people have been lost sheep; their shepherds have led them astray and caused them to roam on the mountains. They wandered over mountain and hill and forgot their own resting place. (Jeremiah 50:6)
There’s something so significant about rest. That’s something I’ve been learning the past couple weeks. Day after day, I’m wearing myself thin. There’s just so many things I want to do and so many people I want to see! Even when I tell myself to take a break and just spend the day relaxing, I find a reason to leave the house or work longer or stay out later than I need to.
Yesterday morning, as I was reading through Jeremiah 50, I came to this verse in which the Lord is referring to the Israelites as lost sheep because they “forgot their own resting place”. I, too, had forgotten my resting place.
I kept believing that staying busy is healthy and needed, when really I just needed to run to the Lord FIRST. If I had, I’m sure I would’ve made better decisions, such as actually getting into bed at a decent hour or maybe saying no to a few commitments I didn’t need to make. And even when I had no choice but to be busy, I still should’ve knelt at the feet of the giver of peace. He does provide exactly what we need to get through our hectic and stress-filled lives. The problem is, I wasn’t letting Him. I had forgotten where true rest comes from and how vital that rest truly is!
For the next week, I will finally have the chance to rest and relax- on the beach in Florida! I’m so thankful that God has given me an opportunity to take a vacation in such a beautiful place. No work, no stress, nobody driving me nuts- it sounds like a dream come true right now. But if I get back from my vacation and then end up doing the same things I was doing before, what good is it? If I know I need rest, A LOT more of it, and God is a provider of that rest… well, then I got a few things to change!
And if you’re feeling the same way I am, knowing that you’re being worn thin and all your efforts to relax and wind down have been pretty futile, perhaps you need to make a few changes yourself. And the first change I suggest for both you and I is running straight into the arms of our Father who never leads us astray and causes us to wander aimlessly. We find rest, peace, and joy in His presence. That’s the only place we really need to be.
If you have a busy schedule, fine. If you have a lot of things to do and a lot of people to see, that’s okay. But don’t think you can get through it alone. You need a Shepherd looking out for you. Don’t forget your resting place.