I’m often asked how I do certain things that I do.
“How do you read so much?”
“How are you involved in so many things?”
“How do you write all of this?”
I usually laugh a little, give an ambiguous answer. But every time I am asked, a new little tally mark goes in the mental column titled “things I need to consider and address.”
This week has been relentless. In the dark hours of Sunday morning, my grandfather’s precious wife, Jackie, passed away. Charming and beautiful, so devoted to my grandfather and to treating our family as her own, she slipped into eternity. We will celebrate her life tomorrow, at their beautiful Episcopal Church in the city, remembering her warmth, missing the way she smiled, the way a hair was never out of place nor an outfit incomplete yet she was just as up for a road trip as a 20-year-old well into the later seasons of her life.
Gabriel was up at 3 AM inexplicably last night. Screaming “mommy!” over and over and over again, almost inconsolable. He laid across me in our bed like a tiny newborn, though his legs now spill far past my side, little braced feet kicking Jared’s arms. For hours, just when I thought Gabriel was asleep, he would suddenly begin to cry, shrieking “mommy!” again. Every time, I would remind him that I was here and that he could lay down, and the cycle would start over again, until we finally both fell into early-morning sleep, bodies bent at uncomfortable angles, but minds thankful to slip into dreaming.
Jared had evening work events Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, a crack of dawn meeting Wednesday morning. This is a bit more intense than his normal workweek, and I’m feeling it. We are used to him having long, irregular hours, but the lack of rhythm of these unusual weeks grates on me sometimes. I think it’s important for me to admit that on occasion, to say that I would not trade our life in full-time ministry for anything, but that sometimes it’s exhausting through and through. I hope it speaks of our love for the people of God when I tell you that some nights we are so tired by the time Jared gets home that we hardly speak. We watch a short TV show, trying to wind down, trying to have a bit of a common experience. Then we turn off the lights, slip into bed and fall asleep holding hands, asking our intertwined fingers to communicate solidarity, to affirm the exhaustion in the short-term but commitment to the long term that we are both feeling but do not have the energy to express.
Yesterday, I had a good bit of work that I needed to accomplish, and the kids of course needed me as well. My in-laws bought them an inflatable bounce house for Christmas, so we set it up in the backyard, they bounced and slid while I pecked out emails on my laptop, glancing up to applaud their antics as I sat in a lawn chair on our messy back porch.
Energy is a commodity, which means it runs out. It means we can only contain so much, that there’s a constant going out, and without a constant coming in, we will run dry. I’ve done it before, I’ve done it too many times, going and going and going until I crash. I am just recently learning how to take breaks, how to truly rest before my body forces me to do so.
Energy is a commodity, which means it runs out. This is why, among other things, books are so important to me. This week, I have stacked up my library queue with a dozen requests. I have listened to books on audio while I put loads of laundry in the dryer and dishes in the dishwasher and dinner on the stove. I have tried to teach myself how to be replenished even in the days with little respite, how to intertwine work and refreshment. I am a devoted believer in the essentialism of times of being hard at work and other times of being hard to play, but this week has not allowed for much of that. This week has asked me to press in, to recognize that energy is seeping from me in ways I don’t even know and that I need to find ways to almost trick it back into me or I will find myself what on the floor, unable to love well, unable to serve well, unable to sit alongside my grandfather and family as we ask God to help us grieve well.
Energy is a commodity, which means it runs out. I am drained by things I don’t always feel comfortable admitting. I am drained by my kids touching me all the time. I am drained by planning – meals, calendars, therapies, appointments. I am drained by clutter. I am replenished by learning, by reading, by thinking. There is a way in which I am replenish by hard, measurable work. So I ask God to help me find it, to help me be creative in funneling energy back into my body and soul, even as it slips from me.
Energy is a commodity, which means it runs out. But the good Giver of it is not a commodity. He does not run out. And He prompts me forward in studying who he is, who I am, how He has designed me to receive from Him, receive from his world.
Owen is at school today, Gabriel and I are in the backyard. He is rolling around on the bounce house while I, true confessions, speak this post into my phone by voice text. This is a perfect example. I have to be two things at once right now. I have to be the mom who is here, the one standing in the yard, the one tossing the ball back to him that he keeps rolling down the slide. I also have to be the woman who is self-aware enough to know that writing this post will help me to love these little people better, will help me to walk into a weekend and hold space for pain and mourning in the hearts of those I love.
I’m figuring this out, slowly (certainly), surely (I pray). And I would love to hear how you find ways to replenish. What speaks life back into your soul, refills your tank? I’m praying you find time for it today.