“Hello me! Meet the real me!” From Megadeth’s “Sweating Bullets”
Does anybody really have it all together as much as they seem? All the time? Outward appearances may make it appear that way for some. Most of the time I appear to most as a perfectly sane person whose life would seem to be in decent order……or as much as could be expected for a husband, father of four, manager of a family business, middle school basketball coach, church leader. Full plates cultivate character, I guess?
I’m not ready to reveal the secret of where the bodies are hidden, but I do know that most people have a fine line between order and chaos that isn’t visible to others. Between peace and hopelessness. And even for Christians who may have their hope firmly rooted in Christ, it’s easy to find yourself at times on a downhill slide that leaves you in a serious mental funk. And you know better. But you can’t jump for joy because you feel like you can’t even stand up from being knocked down again. It only takes a few events of the wrong type to knock us down. But how do we prevent the knockout? And how do we force ourselves to continue to get back up?
I can’t pretend to write or know about life’s hardest blows that I haven’t experienced…..broken marriages, terminal illness, financial ruin. But I can write about the ongoing weight of leadership as it relates to a mighty and loving God.
“Feeling claustrophobic, like the walls are closing in….”
Heavy burdens of responsibility and leading seem so light at times when our trust and hope are in Christ. Stress……worry……nah, not me.
Matthew 6 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
And then I return to work after four days of visiting with family over Thanksgiving. And serious computer and network problems have left me 5 days behind…….and I still have to coach basketball in my spare time (about 4 1/2 hours of time on the 3 game days this week)……and I still have to get my kids to school and juggle schedules……and did I mention that my wife is out of town until the weekend……and did I mention that there is no physical way to spend the time at work required to “catch up”…….and did I mention that I had a severe headache that required 2 doctor visits and 3 shots over a 3-day period?
“If the war inside my head, would take a day off, I’d be dead.”
And a week later, life has edged back toward normalcy. People close to me knew only of my physical pain. But no one on earth knew of the the war in my head as I struggled with physical pain and the inability to function, lead or accomplish anything as I edged near some type of breaking point. Why do I keep it bottled up? Beause I’m supposed to carry other people, lead other people, hold them up. I have to be strong. No outward signs of weakness. Right? Yeah, sort of.
“Just keep swimming.”
Yes, I did jump from Megadeth lyrics to a Finding Nemo quote. It’s hard to bang into the head of a leader (especially men) that the world doesn’t stop spinning when we fail to accomplish things. Colossians 3:23 tells us to do our best for the Lord, but it doesn’t say to die trying. Take care of yourself and don’t pretend to be invicible. We can’t provide for or enjoy our families from a cemetary (or find success in business, for what it’s worth?). Know when it’s time to swim at a slower pace. Slowing down does not equal defeat. Every day is not meant for world records……thriving. Recognize “survival” days.
I can have full understanding that my strength comes from the Lord, but if I fail to recognize my need for him in times of weakness…….
It gets harder and harder to stand back up, and I find myself be knocked back down again seemingly by smaller and smaller things. Don’t be afraid to slow down. Let someone else fight the fires at work that you’re convinced will burn the entire universe. Let someone else coach your basketball team. Step away from church duties. Do something you’ve never dreamed of doing, SIT STILL and recover. Circle the wagons and heal. As long as your children are fed, warm, and clothed….. take a rest from the rest of the world. Trust God to reveal to you what is really important, and peace will return. Sometimes it becomes necessary to simplify your surroundings, your outlook, and your ambitious nature. And be honest with yourself and with others. When people ask if you are ok, just say “NO, but I’ll be ok. I just need to be left alone.” If God places someone in your path that has the ability and willingness to “refresh” you in some way, don’t turn them away. Even though life does come in quick bursts, life itself is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Be there for the end.
As Moses told his people as they faced the Red Sea in the front and the Egyptians in the back, in Exodus 14:14 “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”
And google the lyrics for “Sweating Bullets” if I lost you.