31 Days of De-Stressed Living, Day 25: Understand Your Limitations

time suitcaseAre you a “drama junkie”?

When I was a kid, my Sunday school teachers taught me that “joy” was about “Putting Jesus first, Others second, and Yourself last.”

What they didn’t say is that is also the recipe for resentment, when the balance gets out of whack.

I’ve had to learn the hard way, for example, that holding down a full-time job and full-time family means that there is only so much I can do for someone in crisis. Pray. Call. Take a meal or send a comfort box. Perhaps work out a short visit. But I cannot in most cases make the problem go away — and if I spend too much time helping my neighbor tend his garden, the weeds begin to take over my own.

It often doesn’t feel like enough. Selfish, even. But is it selfish to recognize that I have limited resources (time, energy, money) and need to prioritize giving my family what they need?

Sometimes, my “drama junkie” tendencies win, and I rush headlong toward a crisis, trying to eradicate any trace of the problem — there’s a rewarding kind of emotional rush that goes with it. It took me a long time to realize this, but this is a very real form of selfishness, abdicating the responsibilities of my own vocation in order to over-extend myself in someone else’s garden.

The last time I did that — taking over the care of three boys whose mother was fighting leukemia — put my own children at risk (something we discovered, and paid for dearly, a year later). Sure, my friend needed help — but my children needed protecting even more. That experience taught me the importance of understanding my own limitations, and of not letting the “drama junkie” win.

Do you have to fight your inner “drama junkie”? Is there any area of your life where you are over-extending yourself, and need to acknowledge your limitations?

 

 

 

From Tearful to Cheerful: Thoughts of Thanksgiving

To be honest, I started out this Thanksgiving weekend feeling surpremely sorry for myself.  It would just be us for dinner – my family is far away, his family is unavailable, and for one reason or another no opportunities presented themselves to invite anyone over. (I know that sounds lame, but true nonetheless.) So I got a little turkey, made the pistachio fruit salad, and decided to make the best of it. But inside, I was grumbling all the way.

Poor me. All alone with my family, with all of us healthy and plenty of food in the cupboard. No, we couldn’t travel this year (like we do most years) but all in all, it could be MUCH worse.

Then I was reminded how much worse. Yesterday I discovered a dear friend had been hospitalized with leukemia. Her oldest son (whom she and her husband foster-adopted 11 years ago) has the rest of the family sleeping with one eye open as much for self-preservation as filial concern. I went to go visit her in the hospital this morning, and my friend told me about her list of all that she was thankful for, as a result of this sickness.

Of all the people who had reached out to let her know how much she means to them.

Of the answers to prayer that she had already experienced by offering her suffering back to God.

Of all the ways her doctors had been fighting on her behalf, even before she knew she was ill.

Yes, she had much to be thankful for.  And so do I.

So tonight, as I put the last vestiges of turkey carcass into the trash (after “souping” them all evening), pour the last glass from the wine bottle, and sit down to compose this last little reflection for my “Weekend Ponderings” message to you, I just have to say . . . Truly, we have much to be thankful for.

Lord, I’d like to thank you for my friend Roxy, and ask you to illuminate her path.
Give her light enough for the rough places, and courage enough for the dark ones.
Give her only enough suffering to make her holy, and only enough worry to cling to you all the more.
And finally, Lord, as I hold her up to you in prayer, help me never to tire of interceding
not according to my will, Lord, but yours.
In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, Amen.

Mary, Seat of Wisdom, please pray for us.