It was a sneak attack. It came out of nowhere and left me feeling crippled and unsure of what step to take next. Of course, it didn’t really come out of nowhere, I just refused to pay attention to the warning signs.
I am a positive person, preferring to look on the bright side of any situation. I am quick to tell myself that I will get through this. I am ok. If I can convince myself that I am ok then I will be.
The challenge this time is that I was carrying more than I’d ever carried before. I had just moved 1200 miles away from home. For the first time in my life, one of my parents was dealing with a sudden and life-altering medical crisis and I was powerless to do anything about it or even be there for them due to the distance. Add to that a handful of personal matters that caught me off guard and defied my expectations. I was also starting a new job, learning a new culture, realizing the challenge of maintaining friendships from a distance and didn’t yet have any close friends at my new home. All of this left me with more time on my hands than I’d had before.
In my quest to convince myself I was OK, I did not even realize how much I was walking through and how heavy the burden was. I was circling depression and losing sense of who I was. In my previous season, I was the most confident I had ever been and suddenly I felt like I was losing myself. It is only by the grace of God I didn’t.
When your hurting and feeling isolated, decision making is not as strong as it could be. We tend to choose the easy thing rather than the healthy thing. Grab the oreos and leftover pizza rather than cooking a healthy dinner. Spend a little more time watching television rather than pressing in through prayer and study of scripture. Go to the gym? Not on your life.
Before I moved, the beauty of the routines I had put in place, plus the busyness of my previous job and time spent with very close friends, was that it left little time for entertainment. I appreciate being entertained. Movies, television and an occasional video game (Hello, Kingdom Hearts) can be incredibly enjoyable and relaxing for me. I do, however, think that our entertainment choices should be guarded, both in content and in time consumed. Moderation is king.
When I suddenly had more time on my hands, entertainment began to take over.
Slowly at first. I was overjoyed to have a little more personal time. Honestly, I was tired and needed a little rest. However, as time went on and I began my downward emotional spiral I began losing self-control. My routines began to take a back seat to my own personal comfort.
I knew that the principles of sticking to my routines and seeking Jesus, going to the gym, working to build new relationships would eventually help lift me out of my spiral and lead me back to emotional health, but I didn’t want to do any of that. Eventually, I forced myself to do so and climbed out of the pit, but it took a great deal of intentionality.
On the other side of that, I have come to realize I have been at times a bit too rigid in my routine. There was no room for flexibility. If there wasn’t time to do everything I needed to do, I would be overcome with a sense of failure. If I missed a day I would feel a bit down on myself. Especially with my book reading. I was bent on reading two books each month no matter what. I somewhat enjoy statistics and numbers, so I even had a spreadsheet to tell me how many pages I HAD to read each day to meet my goal. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but once I lose flexibility and fall behind I feel overwhelmed and lose the desire to read at all.
I want to have healthy habits and routines to help me continue to grow, but I don’t want to be so formulaic that it takes all the life out of my time with the Lord and robs me of the joy of learning.
So what will my routines look like in 2019? How will I create room for flexibility? I’ll share my starting point in tomorrow’s post.
In the comments let me know something in the past that went wrong for you.