by Rachel Hollis, from her new book Girl, Wash Your Face
You’re sitting in your house, in your neighborhood, in your city, and thinking, This is so hard. Nobody else understands. I can’t keep up. Blah, blah, blah. And God is up there like, Good and perfect daughter, I have been talking about this since Jump Street!
Being overwhelmed isn’t a new concept.Having a tough day or week? Do you snap at your husband or want to pull your hair out? You haven’t cornered the market on that. You are not the only one. The way you deal with your stress, though, is where your individuality comes through.
So maybe you’re reading this and you’re thinking, Okay, I’m in… I get it. Let’s embrace this chaotic life! But how in the heck do I do that?
Start by giving yourself some grace. We all mess up; we all make mistakes; we all forget pajama day or mix it up with picture day. I’ve screamed at my kids, my husband, and myself. None of it feels good, all of it devastates me, because the loss of control is so upsetting. But you know what? Tomorrow is another day and a chance to try again.
Take a breath. Find humor in the situation, and force yourself to look for it when it’s not immediately evident. A couple of years ago when we were getting certified to be foster parents, a social worker had to interview each of our kids. We sat in the living room with them while she asked innocuous questions over iced tea. She gave them harmless prompts… harmless until she spoke to a barely four-year-old Ford Hollis.
“What makes you happy?” she asked.
He said he liked to go swimming. “And what makes you sad?” she followed up. Without hesitation he told her, “When Daddy scares me in the night.” Both Dave and I froze like deer in headlights. What? What the heck was he talking about? And why was he choosing right now, with a social worker from Child Protective Services, to work through this?
“What do you mean when Daddy scares you in the night?”
“You know, when he comes to my room in the night and he’s mad at me.”
Y’all, when you do an interview like this, you’re already on edge; but when your kids say something crazy, you think that not only are you not going to get approved for foster care but also you might lose the children you do have.
More questions revealed that Ford was talking about the night before when he’d woken up in the middle of the night and tried to sneak in bed with us (which is against the rules). Daddy was grouchy when he had to walk him back to bed three times at two o’clock in the morning. It’s hilarious in hindsight, but at the time, before we’d gotten clarification, I thought I was going to hyperventilate. So push yourself to laugh at hard situations. In fact, the crazier the situation, the more humor you should be able to mine from it.
Don’t forget to take a break, take care of yourself, go on a date, or get your nails done. Take some time just for you to refill your cup, and you’ll be better able to embrace all the madness when you step back inside of it.
Find a tribe of people who are in a similar walk of life as you are. Once you find them, be honest about where you are and what you’re struggling with. Learn to ask for help, and when someone offers help, accept it! Accept any and all help you can get and consider it a gift from God! I cannot tell you how many women ask me how I “do it all,” and when I tell them that I’ve learned to ask for help, they look at me as if I’m an alien.
“Like, help with what?”
For example, when your mother-in-law says she’ll come for the afternoon and entertain the kids, say, “Yes, please.” If your husband offers to fold the laundry (even when you don’t think he’s good at folding towels), say, “Yes, please.” If your girlfriend says she wants to bring you dinner but you feel bad that you’re putting her out, say, “Yes, please.” Or if your elementary school offers afternoon classes that will occupy your rambunctious boys for an additional hour and a half, say, “Yes, please.”
What can give you more time, more space, more freedom to find your center? Whatever it is, say, “Yes, please” to that!
Remember that old joke about how a man keeps praying for God to save him from drowning? Someone comes by in a boat and asks him if he needs a ride, and he’s like, “Nah, God will save me.” When it happens two more times, he says the same thing both times. Spoiler alert: The man ends up drowning, and when he gets to Heaven, he’s like, “God, what the heck? I asked You to save me.” And God looks at him and says, “Dude, I sent you three different life rafts, and you ignored each one.”
Girlfriend, God is sending you all kinds of life rafts. Some are big and obvious, and some are as simple as the bagger at the store offering to load your groceries into your car. Get in the freaking boat!
Remember Philippians 1:6:
Being confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion.
Oh man, I just love that scripture. I believe it’s true, and I’ve watched it unfold in my life again and again. You will get through this season. This too shall pass. Don’t set the rest of your life up on a downhill slope because of one hard season.
It also might be helpful to remember that someone else is praying to have the kind of chaos you’re currently crying about. What I mean is, the things you think are so difficult could be someone else’s dream come true. I don’t say that to make you feel bad, or to negate your difficult experience; but perspective may help you see that your chaos is actually just a gigantic blessing. Adjusting your view can work wonders.
Lastly, remember the butterfly effect? Well, let’s consider an actual butterfly, or more specifically, a caterpillar. Caterpillars are awesome. They have all those legs and they’re really cool, and there’s an entire children’s book series about how pretty they are. But if the caterpillar just chose to stay a caterpillar, if she decided that the chaos of metamorphosis would be too much for her to handle, she would never know what she could become.