I almost threw a sandwich at Panera recently. When the plate clashed loudly against the table, it was a clue too late of my emotional fragility and inability to juggle all that was currently happening in my life. What I call a drip drip drip kind of season. Like Chinese water torture. Slow, irritating, cold drips of water onto the face. Drip. Drip. Drop. Tsunami. Of mounting emotions that make their way unbridled and to the surface. It was my fault, the sandwich part anyway. I didn't know it came with onions and my teenage son's smug reaction to this realization was the final drip. "You will eat that sandwich," I growled in a tone that I'm sure sounded like something straight out of Poltergeist. Yes, to the lady sitting in front of us who turned around at the commotion. The pastor's wife is losing her crap right now in the middle of Panera. Sigh.
Some seasons of life feel like juggling footballs, awkward and cumbersome and too many in the air at once. Like if one more thing gets added into the mix of what we are handling, it will be the thing that breaks us.
And what is too common and utterly unhelpful during that time is to act like we aren't drowning. Like the water isn't too deep and like our legs aren't exhausted from the treading and like we don't have a painful cramp in our side.
I have this tendency to carry a hundred bags at once. Hello to any parents out there. Luggage. Everywhere we go. All the time. My unhealthy inclination when someone offers to help is to smile and politely decline. "Nope. It's all good over here. I got this." Nevermind that I'm carrying ten plastic grocery bags on one finger that is about to break.
There is a great deal of pressure when you are in positions of leadership to have it all together. I'll write a book about this one day. I'm not just referring to leadership in the church realm. If you have a single person in your life who looks to you for guidance, then you are a leader in some capacity. Like it or not. There is pressure to remain calm, cool and collected at all times. To have the right response at all times. The correct posture of the heart. And while I am all about balance and responding as Jesus would, there isn't a single human being on the planet who has it together one-hundred-percent of the time. Not even that person that might be coming to your mind right now. I promise they don't.
Part of healthy emotional hygiene is the practice of confession. In admitting, "this feels like more than I can handle right now." Or, "I don't know how to navigate this." Or, "I feel irate. Overwhelmed. Discouraged. Numb," or whatever emotion begs to rise to the surface for air.
Just the confession alone lets just enough steam out that the emotion feels more manageable and not so overwhelming.
When I went through a season of counseling, I was surprised at how therapeutic the process of speaking what I was feeling out loud was. My counselor would sit across from me and listen, trained to ask the right questions. Trained to help unravel the web of tangled emotions lying beneath the surface.
This is my confession to you. To the one reading this. I am in a season of juggling. Not the normal multitasking, mom and life stuff. That's every season. I'm talking about juggling transitions. New locations, new responsibilities, and new doors opening. All good things, but even good things are difficult at times. Longing to feel settled and a sense of home. Juggling relationship dynamics that are complicated and filled with drama at times. And truth be told, sometimes I feel like I have no idea how to navigate that. Sometimes I mess up and don't handle it the way I should.
So if you see me having a meltdown in Panera, may I ask something of you? Don't judge me. Extend some grace. Pray for me. Ask me how I'm really doing. Beneath the external appearance of what you can see. Ask me to a coffee date (it will always win me over).
And do the same for others. Do the same for yourself and your own heart. It will do a world of good.