This post is part of Lysa TerKeurst’s “The Best Yes” Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with many other inspiring bloggers. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE. (http://goo.gl/bQVJW0)
“When a woman lives with the stress of an overwhelmed schedule, she’ll ache with the sadness of an underwhelmed soul.” (Taken from The Best Yes Chapter 3: “Overwhelmed Schedule, Underwhelmed Soul” by Lysa TerKeurst)
Between Lysa’s The Best Yes and Dr. Henry Cloud’s Necessary Endings, (which could easily be called The Best No) I’ve recently been brought face to face with the fact that I still experience fallout from my past.
My first marriage experienced nuclear meltdown more than seven years ago. I still fall into some of the old unhealthy behaviors I adopted as coping mechanisms during the decade or so before the disintegration of that relationship. Why, Lord, is this still my default when those days are far behind me?
Here’s how it used to be: If I knew that he was on a binge again, I dreaded going home to play the waiting game. (If you’ve ever loved a chemically dependent binge-er, you can identify.) The ache of wanting him to come safely home so I could kill him myself (or at least wring his wiry little neck) always seemed worse when there was nothing to do but sit there and wait.
That all-night, all-the-next-day waiting was the worst, creating a toxic concoction of hope and dread that birthed stomach ulcers that bled and burned for days. Should I make dinner? Call the police? Stay here waiting, or go looking for him? NIGHTMARE.
I hated every minute of that desperate waiting, so I created a coping mechanism. Work. After work, I worked – staying in my classroom until long after everyone else had gone home, made dinner and watched American Idol. I made lesson plans for weeks in advance. Sharpened pencils. Alphabetized scented markers. Rearranged desks; anything to keep my hands busy and my mind semi-occupied until enough hours passed that I could go home too exhausted to lay awake and wait.
Work worked for a while. Years even. Eventually my underwhelmed soul created such an overwhelmed schedule that I became a workaholic. Even during those “clean” months between his rehabs, I continued my addiction to work. More evenings than I can count, when he was home, sitting on the sofa with the TV remote in hand, I was still at school. His sickness had infected me, infected our marriage, our lives. No, I didn’t binge on cocaine. But I did numb the drug’s side effects with busyness.
It was hard to decide what to leave undone. Difficult to have chaos anywhere in my physical world because my emotional world was out of control. I was aching for normalcy, so I created it where I could. I stayed in that groove for a long time. And grooves were formed in my brain. Pathways and patterns and habits that have not broken easily.
Lord, I have to do something differently. I cannot continue to live like this.
I prayed that prayer just before Valentine’s Day as I came out of the valley of indecision and made a decision to stay with a friend when he didn’t come come and wouldn’t answer my calls. Again.
Lysa says, “Not making a decision is actually a decision. It’s the decision to stay the same.” She’s right. For all of those years, when I couldn’t decide what to do, I was making a decision to allow the pattern to continue. I was choosing insanity – continuing to do the same thing, expecting different results. Maybe this time, he won’t use. Maybe this time he’ll stay clean. Maybe…
So, what about now? Now, when I’m happily married to a loving, emotionally attentive husband. Now when I no longer have the pressures of a full-time teaching job? Now when I have a flexible schedule and the ability to sleep until ten on a Monday morning? (I don’t.)
I still work. Still say, “Yes” to time consuming projects that don’t fit my long-term goals. I still over organize and over analyze and over do. If tendrils of painful emotions need to be numbed – I work. If I’m not sure what tomorrow will bring, I overwork tonight. I’m a binge-worker. My overwhelmed schedule is often created by none other than moi, me, myself!
So, thanks to Lysa, I’m prayerfully looking for my “best yes.” Thanks to Dr. Henry, I’m deciding what areas of my life need “necessary endings.” I’m positive workaholism is one. I certainly don’t need the “underwhelmed soul” that comes from overdoing it. Been there. Done that.
I have a feeling I’m not the only one who struggles with repeating patterns from the past that need to be broken in Jesus’ name. What’s going on with you? Do you need to say “no” to a few things? Do you need to say “yes” to a new way of thinking? A new way of doing?
“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13-14 NIV)
May I invite you to pray this prayer with me?
Father, I believe You deserve my best yes. You know the plans You have for me. Please direct my path, moment by moment. If I am numbing with busyness, show me where the hurt is and help me to trust You to heal it. If I am hiding in work or accomplishments, let me hide in You. If I need to end a harmful habit or a relationship, please give me the courage to let it go. I trust You. You invite me to rest, not to strive. I choose to rest in You. Amen.
New York Times Bestselling author Lysa TerKeurst has written a new book about finding your Best Yes. Many call this book “inspiring” and “fabulous.” I call it a game-changer. You can grab a copy at http://goo.gl/ZFUZbD
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