5 Steps To Take In The Grind

It was Saturday evening, and the Wieck-Rwayitare household was knee-deep in the middle of a grind. You know the one… multiple crabby days in a row with sprinkles of joy too small to turn the tide in familial attitude. When our five-year-old hypothetically declares, “You guys are fighting too much!” or hypothetically whispers, “Mom, your face looks like it’s mad at me.” When you find yourself sitting alone in a quiet living room because your spouse is smartly holed up in a corner of the house hiding from your unpredictable wrath.

So there I sat, on a cold Saturday night, alone. I lit a candle, pulled out my journal, and felt my discomfort. I noticed the anxiety and anger boiling just under the surface. I resisted the urge to reach for my phone to google far away locations I could escape to… Singapore? Let’s go. Ghana? I’ll book my ticket. Anything to not feel this discomfort. Instead, I let myself sit with my feelings. I fought my default setting of defensiveness, and instead, tried curiosity. As House of Hope has taught me a million times before, I started to ask questions.

Why are these feelings here? What am I missing? My life has ALL OF THE GOOD THINGS, so why am I raging? The answer came through the fog. I heard the Lord clearly in the scriptures, Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.” Instead of comfort, I felt disdain. Well, aren’t you precious, Jesus, but that is not possible. His prompting felt like nonsense. I couldn’t reconcile it with the hopelessness I felt.

And so I sat with my paradox: Jesus said I needed a rest, but it felt impossible. And then I remembered what I learned in our class Emotionally Healthy Woman: situations feel impossible when I’m telling myself a story that is untrue. So, I asked, “Where am I lying to myself?” The answers came slowly, and as they came, I tried telling myself the truth instead: taking a break is not selfish, it is necessary. I cannot serve my people unless I take care of my own self. None of my responsibilities are more important than my emotional health. This world will not fall apart without me.

As I reflected back on the last six years, I started to recognize a burnout pattern for our family. All of the same red flags. The same discontent feeling. The same angry face. The inability to articulate beyond the fog. We had gotten through worse than this, absolutely. I recognized where we were, and I started to see that I was stuck, but not without hope.

With this seed of hope, I began drafting our foolproof exit strategy, which has saved our family a handful of times over the last six years. Ours is simple: Grandma, Jesus, and the Spa. And so, I worked the steps, a little tender and tepid at first:

  1. Call Grandma (get these kids over to someone who is rested and excited to see them, for. the. love.)
  2. Let Jesus know we’re coming! Get that yoke ready, my friend, because girlfriend is on her way!
  3. Book a stay at our favorite getaway.
  4. Sit and marvel as the fog starts to lift. Tear up a bit that you can see a little clearer. YOU ARE GOING TO MAKE IT. HELP IS ON THE WAY.

It is our core belief at House of Hope that women need space and rest in order to see clearly and love well. We believe in going at Jesus’s pace, not our own. We believe in relaxing into his easy yoke, not grinding through a joyless life. And so, if like me, you find yourself in the middle of a miserable fog, I pray you quit lying to yourself and use the following tools to lift yourself out of the grind:

  1. Sit quietly without numbing out on food, phone, or entertainment. Feel your feelings. Sit with them. Be curious about them. There’s a problem here. Objectively search around in your soul.
  2. Ask Jesus to help you explore the following questions: Is it possible that I’m not thinking clearly right now? Have I faced this challenge before? If so, how did I find my way through it last time?
  3. Work the steps. For my emotional health, it looks like, Grandma, Jesus, and the Spa. For you, it might mean getting equipped in our Emotionally Healthy Woman class, scheduling a therapy appointment, taking a long walk, or heading down to the YMCA hot tub. Do what has worked for you before.
  4. If an immediate break is not possible, schedule it out. Get it on the calendar. Sometimes even the anticipation of help can be enough to turn a discouraged heart around.
  5. Do not do this alone! Come into the House of Hope 9 am to 4 pm Monday-Friday and find friends waiting to help you navigate some of life’s toughest stuff.