A dear friend and I were catching up after a few weeks apart over hot coffee, cinnamon apple baked oatmeal, eggs with fresh basil and feta and finishing with a clothing swap. In the midst of many good things, she shared what this season feels like for her. She’s in a full and busy season and understandably feeling exhausted. But I listened, it didn’t sound like she fully believes that she is allowed to be tired and overwhelmed. And honestly, in some of the professional settings she finds herself in, it simply wouldn’t be appropriate to acknowledge that, let alone act out of those feelings. But the reality is that this new season is exhausting in unfamiliar ways.
As she spoke, I couldn’t help but resonate with much of what was coming out of her mouth. As I listened and believed truth for her, I felt Jesus whisper to my heart and ask if I was willing to believe it for me too. Truth isn’t just for one of us. The truth in my heart for my friend was for me too.
Here’s what I believe for myself:
- I think that I have to earn the right to rest. I think that I don’t have the right to be exhausted when nothing terrible has happened. (And by terrible, my definition is apparently limited to death, fire, loss of limb or other such tragedies.)
- I think that it should feel a certain way to spend time with family and friends. I have an expectation for myself that it needs to feel easy and/or fun all the time.
- I think something terrible or tragic has to happen to me for it to be okay to not be doing well. All the bittersweet transition that I find myself in doesn’t feel like it should count.
- I think there should be a time limit on how long I’m allowed to not be okay.
But the irony is that I don’t believe any of those things are true for my friend. Just me.
As I sat on the carpet, listening to my friend share about her exhaustion, it felt easy to believe for her that things don’t have to be terrible for it to be okay to be tired. It’s okay to be tired. Whether from a new place or an old place, a new job or an old job, staying home or going out; it’s okay to be tired. If you’re tired, it means you’re human. And that’s okay.
It felt easy to believe for her that it is okay for the feelings to not be there right now. It is okay for it to take a lot of energy to show up and be with the people we care about. It is okay to not be excited or even looking forward to time together the way you did in a different season. Things are different and it’s okay if they feel different. This doesn’t get to be an excuse for being a jerk, but it does mean that it’s okay if they don’t feel the same. It’s okay if time with people you love needs to look different too. It’s okay if showing up doesn’t feel the way it used to. You’re not the same person so it make sense that it might feel differently too.
It felt easy to believe for her that there isn’t a time limit for how long this season needs to last. If she’s not doing okay for quite a while, that’s okay. I still want to be her friend. I don’t need her to be peppy and happy and energetic to be my friend. I want her to be her. And if that means we sit more and do less, that’s okay. If that means we see each other less but work towards intentionality, that’s okay. I think I might be in that season too. I hate it for myself, but I honestly don’t mind it for her. Her heart is still kind and beautiful, creative and caring. Having less energy and being in a new season can’t take that away. I love being her friend.
It felt easy to believe for her that tragedy doesn’t have to strike in order to not be doing well. No one has to die for you to need a break or to not have energy to see people. It is okay to be able to handle less, simply because it is a new season. Transition can be exhausting and overwhelming, even when it is a “good” change.
It felt easy to believe truth for someone else today, but I need that truth for me too. I always have to laugh when Jesus gives me what I need to hear out of my own mouth. I may be intending it for someone else’s heart, but he wants me to hear it loud and clear. So loud and clear that he has it come out of my own mouth. It is true for me too.
In this season of transitions and tears, I don’t always like the person I feel like I am. I don’t find it easy to believe what is true when it applies to me. I don’t mean to put myself in a different category, but I quickly create standards that are much higher and harder on myself than what I expect from anyone else. Often, I don’t even realize that I’m not believing it for myself until Jesus tells me that encouragement I text someone is for me too. It isn’t just someone else’s tears that are brave. Mine are brave too. It is brave to feel instead of going numb or shutting down.
When I give someone else permission to be human, it is for me too. It is okay for me to need a nap or a good cry or need alone time. It is part of being human. It is okay for my friend to be fully human. It is okay for me too.
The hope I have for someone else’s story is for my story too. It isn’t just their story that can be redeemed and used by the Lord. It isn’t just their mess and mistakes that he wants. It is mine too. I can have hope for their story and mine.
Sometimes I have to ask myself, “Would I expect this of someone else?” Sometimes I need a little perspective on what I’m expecting of myself. Would I tell someone else to pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Suck it up? Would I yell at them, “You have things to do! No time for naps or tears!” Absolutely not. I would be kind and tell them it’s okay to be tired and sad. It’s okay to be human and need sleep. To-do lists will wait. It’s okay to not be okay. These things are true for me too.
Sometimes I have to ask “Is this something Jesus expects of me?” Too often I find that it is only my voice making the demands. I unintentionally make my voice louder than his as I create rules for myself of what is okay. I don’t think Jesus expects of me what I expect of me. I’m always amazed that some of my weakest moments are the ones that he seems to use the most. He actually expects me to be weak and to need help. He wants to give me rest when I need it. (Matthew 11:28-30) He tells me that it’s okay to be weary; he’s here to help. He tells me it’s okay to be tired and weak. He says even young men, with all their energy and youth on their side, get tired. (Isaiah 40:28-31) Strength comes from him anyway. I don’t need to pull any bootstraps. It is okay for me to be tired and ask for help. Paul tells us that he can boast about being weak because the Lord loves our messes. It is the perfect place for him to show his power. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
No matter what I may think or feel, I am not exempt from grace. There is grace for my friend. There is grace for me too. Today, courage looks like accepting that grace and allowing that truth to be for me too. Courage looks like being kind to myself when I am weak, not yelling at myself about any bootstraps. Courage looks like accepting the grace that Jesus offers to me. It is true for my friend. It is true for me too.