I recently came off an amazing three day staycation with my husband celebrating 20 years married. It was a change of scenery. Moments of full presence and uninterrupted conversations. It was good food and drink mixed with massages and long hikes, without a ton of kids in tow. It was fun. It was bliss. And then it was over.
I came home to my current reality which is much like yours, "ground hog day." I love my kids, and we have an incredible home. But back to the four walls with limited ability to go beyond. Never ending Zoom rooms and passwords. A routine that remains mostly the same with very little margin for fun. This is the life I created, but with a global pandemic still knocking on our door, it is the life I have. And then I heard it in the back of my head as I sank in my spot doing my morning devotion with journal in hand--"should." You "should" be grateful Jen. You got away, your kids are solid. You have great online resources and the finances to fund it all. You are healthy, have a job, enjoy your home and all that live on it. You have been married for twenty years! You really "should"... “Should” is a loaded word – a command to do something or stop doing something. I’m telling myself to be grateful, but I’m also telling myself to stop having other feelings. I know that never works. The truth is, I’m feeling grateful and grouchy. And, I’m frustrated for understandable reasons.
Research shows that gratitude is good medicine. It increases happiness and improves your mood. It is also a spiritual practice that is Biblical, and I choose to live by. Undeniably, it’s essential to be grateful for the good things in your life. Yet, the practice of gratitude can be tricky.
What about the things that aren’t good? What do you do with your less “positive” feelings? Like many, you might feel the guilt. I did. You harshly remind yourself in the paragraphs of self talk to "look on the bright side" and remember all the good things in your life." "Stop complaining, it could be worse."
This type of reminder to be grateful is embedded with a message to stop having other, less desirable emotions. Yet trying not to feel something generally makes the feeling stronger. I heard another author describe it like this.
It’s like trying to submerge a beach ball under the surface of a swimming pool with your hand. It might work for a minute, but soon the ball slips and shoots into the air with more force than it had before you pressed it down.
So what can we do when we are WEARY? Here's four things I did.
BE HONEST: Despite your efforts, suppressing negative feelings won’t make you a more positive person. Many well-meaning people who strive to be grateful have very negative self-talk: You are lucky. Stop whining. You should be grateful. All things that might be true, but it is actually okay to not be okay. So give yourself a minute to be honest with how you really feel before you just move into action to avoid it. Remember the beach ball. It will shoot through the sky like a cannon if you simply suppress.
BE KIND: Not a suggestion to throw all caution to the wind. I'm a health coach. So I'm not talking about eating yourself into a frenzy. My personal kindness came in the form of a second cup of coffee. Something that soothes me without sabotaging. Food is not bad, but it’s also not to be used to numb or escape. I’m not saying cancel life. But maybe a shorter list of things to do. Maybe the fact that you made your bed or showed up for one Zoom meeting is enough today.
BE SLOW TO MAKE MEANING: What I mean is that in the middle we can't always make sense of it. Sometimes we just have to wait. We stand in the uncomfortable for a period of time. In this moment we are not to figure it out, but to lean into God’s magnificent question…do you trust me?
BE NEAR TO JESUS: The Lord wants YOU to come to Him, right now, just as YOU are. That means that you don’t need to try to fix your flaws or any sin that you might be living in, but rather, just come to Him as you are right now so that He can begin to love you and embrace you. No matter where YOU are in life, Jesus says to YOU,
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
The creator of Heaven and Earth is saying to YOU, that no matter what you are going through, no matter where you are in life at this moment, “Come to me, … and I will give you rest." Perhaps you are: Struggling in your marriage/relationship? Struggling with your finances? Struggling with an illness? Struggling in your school studies? Struggling with the death of a loved one? Struggling with being picked on or bullied? Struggling with a sin of some kind? The Lords response to you is, “Come to me, … and I will give your weary heart rest."