Love, But Don't Please
I am exhausted, just down right tired and burned out. It's almost as if I just go through the motions of my days without really putting myself in the moment. I mean, I know I'm alive, but I am not well. I know I'm living, but I'm not present. Mentally, emotionally, and physically, I am just drained. I remember that it was two weekends ago that it finally hit me that I needed to do something about my weariness. It was 8 PM on a Friday night where I sat in my small group, surrounded by women who were looking for some type of solution to their problems. Although we all brought different struggles to the table, we all had one thing in common: To bring our struggles before God.
I sat there with my heart unfolded, but my eyes barely opening from exhaustion. I just had one of the craziest weeks of the quarter. The night before, I had a class from 6PM-10PM, got home at 11PM and went to bed. I woke up that day at 4 AM to get myself ready and to pick up my boyfriend where the both of us rode 30 minutes to get to school. After 2 four hour classes that took place back to back and various meetings in-between, my energy was running low. I was beat and I had worn myself ragged. Although I desperately wanted to go home and cuddle in bed, I knew I had to go to the one place where I could be filled up with strength: my church.
So there I sat, legs and arms crossed, with tired eyes and a slight smile. I tried so hard to show that I wanted to be there. As each woman took turns to talk, I listened as intently as I could, praying to God that the room be poured with peace, seeping into the minds, hearts, and spirits of every woman present. When I finally volunteered to speak, I opened my mouth and felt so many words leave my mouth, each one expressing the exhaustion I'd been holding in for the past month and a half. As I talked I couldn't help but think to myself, "How did I end up in this position again? How did I lose control over my schedule?" I couldn't help but internally beat myself up about my dilemma. I had done this before many times and I promised myself I wouldn't do this. Yet, there I sat in the same position. I was so disappointed in myself.
If you know me, you know that I will put others before me in a heartbeat. I will pick another person over myself and I will do it gladly. I want to see people happy, I want to give my best efforts into making someone's day. Although this is all nice and dandy, I always seem to forget about myself. I forget to take care of myself because I am so wrapped up in making sure another person is okay, or making sure that others' needs are met before mine. Sometimes, I just don't know how to do what's best for me instead of worrying about what's best for others. This, ladies and gentlemen, is my downfall. I, Graciella Colmenares, have a problem with codependency.
I barely remember what I said during my talk, but I do remember finding a solution to my problem. At the end of my rant, I said something that hit me like a brick in the head. I told the beautiful women surrounding me that I knew what I needed to do, but it took me at the point of a break down to really acknowledge it. Coincidentally around this time, I was re-reading a book called The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst. The whole book is about how to conquer an overwhelmed schedule with an underwhelmed soul, something I could perfectly relate to. The author goes into detail about how she overcame this issue in her own life by sharing personal stories, using examples in scripture, and writing quotes that perfectly fit each topic on this subject. In one of the first chapters of the book, she wrote a quote that I found so significant and profound that it has become one of my favorite quotes of all time. TerKeurst wrote, "Do not confuse the command to love with the disease to please." It was in that moment during my meeting that I remembered this quote and felt my heavenly Father say, "Remember this."
As much as I want to please everyone and be a dependable person, I couldn't let the idea of loving everyone else before myself take a toll on my mind, body, and soul, which is exactly what was happening. I didn't realize that helping people too much could have a bad consequence. I was so focused on pleasing people that I wasn't thinking of the repercussions of my decision making. I had overwhelmed myself to the point where I gave too much and wasn't getting enough back to regain my strength. Sadly, my soul was too tired and couldn't serve anymore. At this point, I needed God more than ever. I needed Him to strengthen me and to help me break this habit.
But how could something so good be so bad? Well, they do say that too much a good thing isn't so good at all, and that's exactly what happened. I needed to find a balanced schedule that would not only benefit others, but would benefit myself as well. I couldn't keep putting myself last any more. I needed to realize that it's okay to be selfish and have some "me" time. It's okay to say, "No" when someone asks me for help because I have other obligations for myself. It's okay to not answer every text, every phone call, and every email that comes my way the very next second after I receive it. It's okay to take a moment from my day, be still and silent, and breathe in and out while praying to God. It's all okay, and it will be okay.
As I write this post, I am at a much better place. I find comfort knowing that I can turn to God in my moments of exhaustion and just fall into Him. I can trust knowing that I am not superwoman, but that God can make me superb. I can now look back on the past month and a half and know that I don't have to have history repeat itself, that I can make decisions to do what's best for me and live out a healthier way to serve others. I think about it this way: How can I serve others to the best of my ability, if I'm not at my best? It's unfair to my loved ones and it's definitely unfair to me.
I continuously pray that God continues to strengthen me and guide me in my life. If you are going through a similar situation, take heart and know that you are not alone. Remember that only God can fill you back up and renew your strength in ways that exceed any satisfaction from this world. And once you humbly go to Him and wave your white flag, He will swoop you up, fill you up, and you'll be soaring high in the sky, passing through life with flying colors and a strong spirit ready to serve with a open heart.