"It's not the load that breaks you down, Its how you chose to carry it” - an awesome human who is not me
As someone who carries more than she should on a regular basis this quote hit me very hard when I read it at the beginning of the summer.
The reality is that the weight is there and life on this earth can just feel heavy. School, work, goals, relationships, money. All of it just piles up and, eventually, I hit burn out. Some of the side effects of burnout in me are daily drudgery, frustration, apathy, self hate, physical frailty etc. "I just need a break" is something I have heard myself say A LOT over the last year. While I think it is true that I do need a break. What I need may not be the break that I thought I needed.
I have been praying about what this "break" needs to look like. My idea of the perfect break is writing music in the mountains alone. Basically, radical introverting in the wilderness. To the dismay of my introverted self, what I heard brings me to the conclusion that I need to practice not carrying extra weight, and learn to carry the weight of the life that I am called to with grace and joy.
Here are some of the ways to help give myself a "break" while life is still happening around me.
This one is huge. Having one day or A few hours set aside in the week for rest is so important. I started the discipline of Sabbath in high school. Then felt the results of veering away from it my first semester of college, which was a terrible over-zealous freshman decision. (NOTE: freshman in college- don’t be dumb, you need a sabbath, you aren’t invincible. You can sleep and still pass classes. I promise.) I need intentional rest to refuel myself, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. For me, Saturdays are sabbath. I do not do school, turn off my phone for a period of time, hang out with friends, go for a long run, and do other things that are outside of my daily routine that gives life. It’s also been great to Sabbath with a friend. Keeps me accountable when my productivity curse kicks in.
"Fast Friday" has become something that is super important in my week. Granted-It really isn't the most attractive day of my week. I'll be honest. There have been weeks where I loath it. Fasting is such a beautiful, intentional way to create space. I spend extra time praying for my friends and family. I spend time evaluating and being honest with myself about the condition of my heart. "Fast Friday" has also been something that I do with the framily I have around me. Roughly once a month we fast, have communion, worship, and then eat an awesome meal together. Fasting is a break in its own unique way. Over the summer, I didn’t partake in fast Fridays but, I am excited to get back in the habit of fasting.
I'm highly introverted so this one is definitely a favorite. I need time alone. Time alone in the literal sense, but also in other ways as well. I need time alone to process what I believe and what I value. I need time to process situations and create without a million people’s opinions or my cell phone pinging in my ear. Solitude provides space to listen, create, and become a "world unto myself" as Rilke says.
This is a new one for me. Intentionally rejoicing in the good things of everyday. I have started a journal entirely dedicated to this. I spend time reading over good happening of past days and writing new ones down. This helps me tame my naturally pessimistic attitude. Helps keep me grounded in truth and encourages me choose to be joyful.
I also have a thankful list. When life feels heavy and discouraging my thankful list helps me center myself and again, choose joy. Thankfulness is a de-stressor that also aids in me living light.
Rhythms come in all different forms, daily, monthly, yearly. Whatever form they take they are important. For me, a daily rhythms of getting up, working out, eating consistent meals, creating etc. is so important. It really keeps me sane at times. It can also be hard because obviously, life changes, and I change. Rhythms are this constant aspect of life that I have to do my best to adjust and tailor. Even for the most spontaneous, free spirited people in the world, some constancy is healthy. Implementing a daily rhythm as much as possible helps me relax and enjoy every day life.
Community & Creativity
I am an introvert, but I still need people. I need my framily. Making time for people is so life giving and worth it. We are created for community. Without it I believe we do not live fully or create fully. Go make friends and pursue community with depth to it.
Finally… Give it a Rest
I wrote a song my freshman year of college called “Give It a Rest.” I was walking back to my apartment from the farmers market. Annoyed and discontent with life in general. Questioning my major and what I was doing with my life. Stressed about homework. Missing my family and guy. It all felt heavy and I was sick of it all. A phrase and a melody came to my heart and mind in that moment “Give it a rest O my soul, He has shown Himself faithful through it all.” I finished the song later that night. I really believe God gave that song to me. It brings me peace more than any song I have ever written. As I have been praying this summer, this song has come to mind repeatedly for a reason. I carry way more weight than I need to. Part of this is because I take too much responsibility or in some cases the blame for things in life. Like so many people, I am way too busy most of the time. I have an independent spirit so not carrying weight sometime feels like weakness. However, the biggest reason is that I lack faith, if I am honest. I have trust issues. I carry excess weight because of my own doubt and forgetfulness in God’s faithfulness. Part of taking a break, is daily releasing the “weight” I feel to the Lord. I believe He is a good Dad and He will help me carry it well. There lies joy amidst the craziness of life. There lies perspective into how part of the weight may come with our calling. There lies the space and to delight and acknowledge a good Father’s faithfulness.
It’s Friday. Monday I had just arrived in Cincinnati after traveling back from Montana. Wednesday, I left home to move to a new city, Nashville, Tennessee. Sixteen hours later, I went to Memphis to finish registering for college classes, audition, surprise my best friend, and spend the evening with my framily. Today, I drove back to Nashville. It was a busy week. Even busier considering at the beginning of summer my plan was to not return to college, and introvert in the mountains for a few months before doing who knows what. I am tired, but my heart is full. I thought at the beginning of the summer that I just needed a break from life. What I’ve found is that this weight that I feel will always be there and that the “break” that I need is really a choice. It is a choice to keep walking, doing intentional things that bring life, letting go of what I shouldn't carry, and trust in a good Dad to teach me how to carry on with life well.
Easier said than done, obviously, but not impossible. Here’s to choosing to carry life well. Have a great weekend, friends.