Today I received the gift of a few hours of uninterrupted time for myself, amidst a whole lot of summer parenting. I have come to firmly believe that parenting is an extroverted calling. For me to be present and enjoy my child requires that I make (what feels like) constant choices to say “no” to my penchant for producing, and for heavy internal processing. So, when I realized I would have a little time to myself, I began to dream of all the ways I could rest. It was a delicious dream.
And yet when the time came, I resisted the rest. In the moment, it felt so much better to take up my to-do list and accomplish. So that at the end of the day, my insecure part could look back and say, “See! Look what I did today! I got so much done. I am strong. Don’t you think I am good?” So that my needy place could feel a little less needy.
There is a very old current in me. It has raged strongly, wearing a path through the terrain of my insides, leaving tough, rocky shoreline on its path, and wearing me down. When I am in this current, I feel unassailable. I feel safe. I have spent so much time in these waters, they feel like home to me. This current of workaholism and white-knuckled strength feels like one sure thing I can rely on during stress. When I am in the stream, I believe for a little bit that I can stay above criticism and judgment. I believe that I can push past my fatigue and make happen what I need to happen. I believe I can protect myself. I love this place in me for all its strength; I feel a loyalty to it for what it has helped me to endure.
And yet I know that it lies to me. The truth is, I cannot arrange for what I most truly need. The truth is, I cannot successfully outwork rejection, fatigue, or resistance, inside or outside of me. This place promised to be the only friend I would need. It left me isolated behind a barrier of strength and uniqueness.
It is the end of the day. The day I squandered with urgency and need for accomplishment. I’m rocking on my porch, finally still, miraculously able to laugh at my earlier frenzy. I want to ask Him: “See, look what I did today! Don’t you think I am good?” I can hear the breeze, and the birds singing us to sleep. I can hear that He wants me to tell Him that I need Him to delight in me, that I need Him to have finished the work. He wants me to hear His lighthearted laughter over me, for my vain labor today and next week. He wants to help me out of the current, help me admit I am fainting for a strength greater than me. And when I do that, when I awake from my insanity, I am most fully myself. I am not alone, but surrounded by many of His faithful ones who invite my need. I am a child again, the daughter of a strong and able King.
Meredith joined The Barnabas Center staff in January 2009, upon completing her Masters in Counseling from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and her Bachelors in Religion and Psychology from Furman University. She counsels, leads women’s groups and teaches a seminar called “Hope in the Darkness” for those walking with individuals suffering from depression or bipolar disorder. Meredith, her husband Jon, and daughter Charlotte live in Fort Mill, SC.