It’s beginning to feel fallish out. Overnights are cooler, but the days are still warm. It isn’t bright out quite as late in the evening or as early in the morning. The leaves haven’t begun to change colour yet, but the mums in my garden have started to wake up. There’s just something about the fall. It’s earthy and nostalgic and romantic and cosy. It’s my favourite season.
I feel like I’m most productive in the fall. I’m the most alive. I do my deepest thinking. Or perhaps everything just seems deeper and more meaningful. Either way, I’ve noticed an increased contemplativeness in myself of late. Maybe it’s the end-of-summer-but-not-quite-the-start-of-school exhaustion. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis. Or maybe it’s just the fall. Yes, I’m going to label it fallishness and get on with my deep contemplations.
Strength. It’s been on my mind over the past days and weeks.
I’ve always been strong. I like helping friends move and being able to haul as much weight as the guys. I can carry two of our big water cooler jugs at a time. I can swing a sledgehammer or an axe with gusto. And I’m very sure that if she would hold herself still long enough, I could bench press my 11-year-old. I’ve been called “freakishly strong” and I like that, but it’s probably a little bit less than 100% accurate.
The truth is this: I’m stubborn. Like nobody’s business.
Some people may see that as strength, but if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that it’s not true strength. It’s temporary. It’s a burst of determination that gets me through the task at hand. It’s not raw physical power.
The same can be said of my emotional strength. I’m not an anxious or stressful person. I don’t freak out very easily. I don’t worry about much. I don’t physically absorb stress in the form of ulcers or high blood pressure or migraines. Sometimes I clench my teeth in my sleep, but once I notice I’m doing it, I tell myself to stop. Does that make me strong? Not really. Again, I think I am just stubborn. Just pushing through to the other side of this task, this day, this project, this obstacle.
This stubborn strength has served me well. I am keenly aware that it’s not my strength. My self-talk is full of reminders that I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength and the Lord is the One who sustains me and holds me up through whatever stormy seas He leads me into. I know that He gave me my stubbornness at an early age to train me for things to come. He knew that I would need this inner fight for future battles that no one else could foresee or imagine. And He gave me a husband with the same grit.
When I was in labour with my first child, I distinctly remember arguing with the midwife about how much longer it was going to take. I was at the end of my strength and I knew it. She, having actual expertise in the matter, tried to tell me it was still going to be a while. I told her that I couldn’t keep going. I either needed a break (which I knew didn’t make any sense, but it’s all the sense I could vocalise) or I was going to have to have something to help me manage the pain. I just couldn’t do any more. She tried to talk me down for a contraction or two, and then agreed to check my progress again. Whaddya know, my baby was born a few minutes later.
I feel like that now. A break isn’t realistic. The end isn’t visibly near. But I’m so done.
I saw a quote on facebook yesterday that said, “God gives the hardest battles to His strongest soldiers.” It was meant to be encouraging, I’m sure. And normally I would take it as such. But right now I find it oppressive. I’m tired of the battle and I don’t want to fight anymore. I don’t want to have to be strong. This soldiering stuff sucks and I don’t feel particularly honoured that God entrusted a harder battle to me.
What is my point? Why am I writing this publicly? Am I even going to click that little “publish” button? Yeah, I am. Obviously I did. I guess in a backwards kind of way, I still want to be an encouragement to other people who are going through tough stuff. Even those of us who appear to be strong all the time have weak moments. We all need to refresh and regroup once in a while. It’s okay to be overwhelmed. It’s okay to melt. And whatever you may be facing, no matter how alone you feel, I hope it helps to hear that you’re not the only one.
We’re heading off for a bit of a family vacation soon. I’m praying, desperately hoping, that this will be a time of joy and peace. But even if it’s not, the Lord will soon renew my strength and give me new wings. He can do it for me and He can do it for you.
In the meantime, no I am not suicidal or homicidal or even depressed. I am still enjoying most parts of my life – friends and ministry and health and change and growth and this glorious fallish weather. So don’t worry that I’m about to fall off the edge of sanity. I just wanted to try to express my contemplations.
And I’ll try not to be so morose next time.