The Setback Cycle
Hello Loves! Man, did I miss you guys. Last week was a little heavy for me. I had some deadlines I had to meet for work and school, but then I also had an unexpected bout with food poising that had me down for the count. With nausea, stomach cramps and lack of appetite, my body was running on fumes in trying to meet all the demands of home, work and school. However, as always, I got through it with the help of my God, my supportive husband and remaining faithful in prayer and thoughtfulness with myself. I had to remind myself, that I can only do my best with what I have. My 'best' today, is different than my 'best' when dealing with the symptoms of food poisoning. Whenever you're feeling 'not your best', tired, sick, or heavy-hearted, remember to take a time out. We must take care of ourselves before we can be and do anything for anyone else. I allowed myself to do that and it was a decision I will never regret. Putting your health and well-being first, will return dividends in the long-run.
Now that I'm feeling better, it's time to get back to our self-love journey. This week I wanted to discuss the inevitable 'setbacks' of the journey. As we've gone over in previous weeks, walking in love means we extend grace and love to ourselves as well as others; practice forgiveness; be vulnerable and allow others to do the same in our presence; ask for what we need; speak positively to yourself, about yourself; and learning to understand pain as a learning place (What is this pain trying to teach me? How will I grow from this?). Just like you, I too experience setbacks. I, too, falter and have bad days. I'm human and I share this world with other humans who falter and have bad days as well. It's going to happen. The issue isn't whether or not the bad days and setbacks will happen...what matters is how we deal with those moments, and pick ourselves back up.
In my journey this year, very recently I've learned to practice forgiveness at a much deeper level. I've forgiven my father for not being there. I've opened the doors of communication with him in order to establish an amicable relationship. I recently reached out to a family member who was near and dear to me as a child, but who hasn't been around for the last 6-7 years due to a family breakdown/argument that was never resolved. Weeks ago I had an unfortunate incident where one of my friendships was in breakdown and we had a chance to talk in love, forgive one another, and move forward as better people. With all of this forgiving and moving forward in love, I was on a major self-love high! Wow! Look, this works! Well....as I recently discovered, not everyone is on the same journey as I am...and it was painful.
I woke up Sunday with a 'vulnerability hangover'. My heart was heavy and all I wanted to do was stay in bed. Saturday, I had an overload of emotions, too much information thrown at me within a 24 hour period, coupled with emotions and intensity that I was just not prepared for. The character traits that caused the distance between my father and I in the past, reared their ugly heads yet again - even now - years later, with forgiveness and grace extended. The family member who I haven't seen in 6-7 years contacted me and now I'm unclear of whether or not he wants to really reconnect? A vague conversation had via phone left me feeling sad, confused, and worried for him. I feel like he's NOT ok. I learned of an unfortunate secret about a friend of mine, and I'm still trying to process that. Then, as if Saturday wasn't heavy enough, we had an unfortunate instance among friends, where a fun time turned into a heated and tense exchange over politics. I had watched so much hate and anger among people in the news, dividing a nation - so to see this play out among people I love and care for, wasn't fun. Waking up Sunday morning from all of this, I could only describe it as vulnerability overload. I felt loss, shame, and guilt. I felt like I wasn't enough. That I handled all of these situations all wrong. I should have kept quiet. I should have just let the distance continue. I should have....I should have...this is what kept repeating in my heart and mind as I drove myself to church Sunday morning.
Being at church Sunday morning is just what I needed. I prayed, received encouragement, cried out for God, and knew what I needed to do next. When you're coming off of a bad day, and need to regain your sanity after so much emotional ups and downs, it's important to identify what your 'setback cycle' is. For me, it's to just BE STILL. When I don't know what to do, I do nothing. I just sit still, sit quiet and wait for an answer. Like it says in Psalm 46:10 - 'Be still, and know that I am God....' and so that's what I resolved to do the remainder of Sunday. After church, I went straight home, put my phone on silent, changed into comfortable clothes, ate lunch, and sat on the couch with my husband to rest and NOT talk about it. The great thing about my husband is that he doesn't push for a conversation to be had, he doesn't ask me to discuss things until I'm ready. He gives me my space emotionally, while holding me tight physically -- what a guy. And so, that was my Sunday afternoon/evening: rest, naps, movies, yummy food, playing cards with my girls, all while wearing fuzzy socks. This is what I needed. To sit in the blessings of my home, my marriage and my children - to refocus my heart on the things that matter most and be still enough to appreciate all that I am instead of all that I am not.
Today, as I wake up refreshed and ready to take on another week of life; I woke up with a familiar perspective. Things I already knew, but lost track of in my deep sadness as I beat myself up for not handling things 'perfectly'. The truth is this:
I am a child of God, made in His image fearfully and wonderfully. I am enough. I am also human and allowed to make mistakes. Nothing I say or do can keep me from the love of God. Redemption, grace, mercy and love are inherently available to me regardless of my faults.
And here's the good news...SO ARE YOU!!! It's this understanding that got me through my funk. I can walk in confidence knowing that I am a child of God, but also be humble because so is everyone else. My father may not ever be the man I want him to be, but he's still a child of God. My family member may not ever come around despite my efforts to reconnect, but he's still a child of God. I don't have to agree with the things my friends say and do, but they are still children of God. I must forgive them, and then forgive myself for the self-inflicted emotional assault I unleashed in my heart and mind in the aftermath of it all.
We are all just people. Like many of you, I am just a deeply feeling person in a broken world. The hurt, pain, hate, divide, resentment, anger...I feel it all. It's just how I was made. This is the heart that I have beating in my chest so I have to ensure that whenever I do experience a setback or a bad day, that I activate my 'setback cycle' and find space and time to BE STILL, and KNOW that my God will restore all, that I am enough, that I've always been enough, that people will make mistakes, but most importantly...that in the end LOVE will always win.
What's your 'setback cycle'? What routine do you activate to get you back on track on this love journey? Some of us numb, while some of us sit still and wait. The former approach will do only that - numb - but once the numbing has subsided, the pain will still be there. I encourage you to find a better way. A way that allows you to be present with yourself. I, too, sometimes want to revert to going numb, and have done that at times as well. So from experience I can tell you, finding presence with yourself without the numbing is much more effective and will give you time and energy to get back on the track of love and keep doing your work.
It's not the setback, its the come-back that matters.
Peace & Blessings,