When You’re Fine – Except, You’re Not

Earlier in this decade, I thought about dying every day for a year.

I wasn’t planning suicide or battling a life-threatening illness, I was simply overburdened and weary to the point of imagining that perhaps even a brief hospital-stay sounded like a relief.

My life was a super-highway with no scenic over-look, so my mind searched for an off-ramp.

The year prior had been rife with transitions – a move I didn’t want to make to an unfinished house, my youngest graduating from homeschool, a new full-time job I hadn’t anticipated needing, career upheaval for my husband.

The year that followed brought an unexpected diagnosis for Rob, more work pressure, shifts in my parents’ health, continued support for my adult children in their new situations, and luscious opportunities for speaking and writing that were welcome yet required me to work in the narrow margins of my life.

And I was fine.

Effective on the job. Valued at church. Writing words well-received by readers. Caring for Rob. Present for my adult children and parents. Supportive of friends.

This is life, right? God is with us and strengthens us through it all. I prayed. Studied my Bible. Did all the things. He works them all together for good for those who love Him, so this would all be for my good and His glory, yes? I trusted. And I was fine.

Except, I wasn’t.

Somewhere deep inside – my heart, mind, and soul were telling me clearly that I wasn’t okay.

I brushed them away like gnats. I’m a warrior. There’s a battle waging. I’m a kingdom-builder and this is my assignment. I’m a servant and God knows what I need. I’m a grown-up and this is life. Soon, I’ll rise on eagle’s wings.

Except there came a week where, twice, as I left clients’ homes after crisis visits, I blew through stop signs. Not my style. I don’t even speed. Three times, as I drove to familiar places along familiar routes, I didn’t recognize where I was. Couldn’t recall where I was going. I lost patience at home. Not my style. I cried in my car in between appointments. I slept, but never felt rested.

I scheduled a check in with my doctor.

He held up the 10-question depression screen I’d completed in the waiting room. “Let’s talk about this,” he said. I’d answered yes to nine out of the 10 questions. The only one to which I’d replied “no” was “Have you considered suicide in the past 30 days?” So, I’m fine, right? I asked. I’ll get through this. It’s just a tough time.

He thought differently. What followed was a very concrete discussion about sleep, food, exercise, rest, stamina, spiritual support, and mental health. Things I know for other people but forget for myself.

I found someone I could trust to talk to about job stress. I told my family and a small circle of friends about my state of mind. Hard conversations where I admitted I’m no super-hero. I need help sometimes even if I look fine and keep going.

I said no to some things. And, I started remembering that I represent God, but I’m not Him. I have limits. I need rest.

So, I reinstituted a Sabbath rest each week. 24-hours. No work. Worship. Naps. Books. Movies. Food. Staring at the sky. Chatting on the porch with friends. Rest. And, like Jesus, I pull away to “desolate places” to recharge and hear from my Father.

Moses needed his father-in-law, Jethro, to remind him he couldn’t (shouldn’t) try to do it all.

Elijah went from blazing victory to death-wish defeat and needed God to send Him to rest beneath a broom tree.

The apostle Paul wrote this, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead. He delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again.” 2 Corinthians 1:8-10 ESV

Yes, we have Jesus. Yes, we’ve matured in our faith. We worship, pray, give, serve, obey, read our Bibles, and do all the things. But, sometimes we need help, rest, healing, and restoration and the people around us can’t tell because we’re still showing up and doing. And we’re so busy helping others take care of themselves, no one notices (not even us) that we’re slipping away.

That’s how we’ve lost some wonderful servants of God. We don’t want to lose you, dear reader, if you’re starting to lose heart.

Are you losing sleep? When was the last time you looked forward to something? Do you find yourself resenting people for needing things or grumbling in your heart where you used to be gracious and full of love?

Are you eating or drinking or spending or clicking too much? Are you thinking it wouldn’t be so bad to be laid up for awhile? Does your mind wander to the rest promised in death? Maybe, once or twice, suicide has entered your thoughts.

Maybe God doesn’t give us more than we can bear, but the world certainly does. And we take more on ourselves than God’s asking us to take. And the enemy sneaks in with burdens we’re too busy to fend off.

Often, God renews our strength, but when He doesn’t, He’s trying to get our attention.

When you’re fine – except you’re not – tell someone. Stop and get a little help. More important than all you do is you. We need you, not all the plates you keep spinning.

If there’s no one else you can tell, email me, and we’ll brainstorm.

Even warriors of valor fall prey to battle fatigue. You don’t need to press on – you need to sit down. Listen to God. He has the battle. You catch your breath.

(Please, if you really are fine, send this post to a friend you care about and check on them. Let them know you’re there if they need you. We need one another.)

My new book releases next Tuesday and I’d love your help spreading the word! Here’s a 10 question survey to help your church leaders or ministry team decide if they would benefit from learning how to have hard conversations. And here’s a link to The Art of Hard Conversations where friends can read an excerpt. Thank you for praying that God will use this book to His glory and to the benefit of all who read it.

 

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9 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. Patty says:

    And I thought I was the only one who struggled as you have so aptly described here. WOW. Thank you for writing this. The struggle is thinking I should be able to handle all the things…
    .so and so does so much more and she appears to be handling it all just fine. I need to think on your words and consider where I need to let go of the doing of things and expectations I place on myself and what others expect of me. And I am looking forward to receiving your new book.

  2. Diane says:

    Lori, I thank you for being blunt and honest about your life. Though our parents are gone, I feel in crazy situations similar to yours since 2016. I thought things would be calm for a while, but no. Something is up again–changes. Wow, it doesn’t even slow down as we get older! Thanks for encouragement.

  3. Nancy McDaniel says:

    Lori, as my e-mail came up. … I read ” When You’re Fine – Except You…” And I had to click on it….. I just KNEW that the rest of the quote would be …
    … ” You’re Not “!!!!!!
    What you described, is Where I Am NOW. My thinking has been, like yours was.
    What a great testimony …. and info… You have Shared. I feel there is hope. I will not go into my life’s happenings, but, my mind has been very full for quite awhile. Life happens.
    I am confident that GOD, in his Wisdom and Strength and Love, Will Help me through this season of my life. If it wasn’t for HIM, I would be much Worse, I am sure.
    May GOD Bless You each day. May HE help your sales to be great…so Others can benefit from Your writing… Your experiences and how you have overcome, to “Be A Warrior that Knows When To Rest Between Battles.” Thank you again.💖 Nancy

  4. d says:

    True post, thank you. Sometimes the battle is with aging, trying to continue doing all one once did but with less stamina…..very difficult to get ones mind wrapped around the FACT one cannot do what they used to. Whether from simply to many birthdays or a combination of that plus the toll LIFE has taken on one. A very hard lesson our Dear Father has patiently been teaching this old girl over and over. So thankful for family that cares enough to step in & take up the slack. For dear sister’s in Christ that encourage, love, and pray. It would seem we all hit the wall at some point in our walk with our Lord Jesus ~ it is learning from those abrupt hits.
    Thank you so much for your blog Lori, hard hitting, often the Lord uses the posts to put His finger on an issue He has been trying to get my attention on. Looking forward to reading your book.

  5. Tammy Breeding says:

    Thank you Lori. This is me. Thank you fior saying if God isn’t giving you the strength you need he’s trying to get your attention. We instituted the Sabbath as a rest day, then watched as it promptly filled up again. This lets me know that if I am feeling this way I need to slow down, not speed up..

  6. Marjorie Hill says:

    Thanks, Lori, for sharing from your heart. I’ll be praying for you and your new book. I’d be glad to share in anyway I can. Blessings.

  7. Sherry Carter says:

    I totally get this, Lori! There was a time when my dream was to hide in a room at a sleazy hotel and to sit there, watching everyone hunt for me. I just wanted to walk away. I never did and I didn’t force myself to rest either. I eventually broke under the pressure. Your post is so needed!

  8. Patty Blevins says:

    This goes along with a book I started reading last night – “Between The Dreaming And The Coming True – The Road Home To God by Robert Benson copyright 1996. He’s a writer : ) too. He got to a point in life from the stress of things that he was seriously wanting to commit suicide- but his sister got him to a place to get him the help he needed. One person commented on Amazon that they had read this book 25 times over the years. I do like his writing style. I always liked your writing for being real. He is real. I could see reading this book again.

  9. Daphne Woodall says:

    Oh Lori several people come to mind while reading this. I’ve been in the “find except not” place a few times in my ___years. If I’m complaining I’m fine. When I’m quiet perhaps not. You have a way of putting others’ mixed thoughts into logical words. I will share and this and it may be your best book ever! Thanks for sharing.