I turned 25 two days ago, on the 2nd June.I had a lovely birthday, but the two days since have been full of stress and worry and anxiety. What’s worse is that I have completely let it overwhelm me. I had a panic attack yesterday (and one last week) which freaked me out as it’s been years since that last happened.

I just feel completely swamped and crushed under the weight of a whole lot of responsibility at work.

But my God is bigger. I don’t quite know how to resolve this heavy feeling in my heart without Him. All I can do is draw close and wait for His help. I know He will respond, because He loves me

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misdirected emotions

I am a great example of how to display an emotion completely separate from what I m actually feeling. I have written before that I can be an ostrich when it comes to emotions and feelings but I also have a knack for completely dwelling on something minor as a way to distract myself from what I’m really feeling.

Case in point: about 2 hours ago I said goodbye to my wonderful American friends. I just about held the tears back as the kids all got emotional and as they prayed for me and told me their favourite things about my visit. I felt so sad to be leaving that I wanted to tell Rachel to turn the car around and I would just stay forever!

(But of course I didn’t and I said goodbye at the bus stop with a huge knot in my tummy and a lump in my throat from trying so hard not to lose it)

So then I spent an hour on the bus trying not to cry, reading my Bible and praying and looking at pictures. By the time I got to the airport I still felt sad but I was thankful for my time with the Libbys.

Then I checked in and my bag was too heavy and I had to pay the excess fee and instead of being my usual practical self and rearranging items between my carry-ons to make my check-in lighter I just went ahead and paid the whole charge! Which left me kicking myself all through Security for not making a wise decision.

Of course, I got so frustrated with myself over it because I didn’t want to think about what I was missing with Rachel and the kids.

I really had to fight to let go of that frustration and not let it take away from the joyful time I’ve had. Seriously, I’ve just had 2 wonderful weeks with some of my favourite people and I’m going to dwell on an insignificant thing like paying a baggage charge?!

How could my heart and head be so ungrateful so suddenly. It honestly took a lot of prayer and thanking God for all blessings of the last two weeks to make me see that while yes, maybe I made a silly split second decision, but it was even sillier to let it spoil my heart.

In the end I was thanking God that he provided me with enough spending money in my purse that I could pay the charge in cash and still have enough for a Starbucks while I wait for my boarding time. He didn’t have to provide that, but He did, because He loves me.

One thing I am taking away from this experience is to always have a thankful heart even when you feel silly or frustrated with your situation, because there are too many blessings to count if you look for them.

The other thing I am taking away from this is to be more wware of what I am feeling and why. This has always been a thing for me, and I have to constantly examine myself: what am I feeling, why am I feeling that way? But now I also need to challenge myself to change my attitude if it is not right and focused on God.

Such deep thoughts whilst sat at Gate D11. I have another hour or so until my flight starts boarding so I think I will head around the concourse in search of that Starbucks!

-x-

Holidays are coming…

Oh boy, do I ever need a holiday!!

This time tomorrow I will be pootling down the motorway towards Plymouth for a weekend at home, and then on Sunday Mum and I are jetting off to Majorca for a week. I genuinely cannot wait!

This week has been exhausting, and I’m still recovering after giving blood on Monday. I think my iron was a little low because I was very woozy the whole day afterwards and have just felt wrung out since then. Of course, that could just be the fact that work has been insanely busy running around after foster carers trying to meet their unreasonable demands and cleaning up various messes that needn’t have been created in the first place.

A week in the sun will be just the ticket, I think ūüôā And I’ll get another few items ticked off the Bucket List. I’ve already made a good start – over the weekend I went to the garden centre and bought some veggies to grow – I now have a cute balcony garden with cherry tomatoes, ronda carrots, sweet banana peppers, garden peas and strawberries all growing merrily outside my window and making me smile.

My plants enjoy the rain, which is fortunate since we are having a lot of it. However average temperatures in Majorca are about 28-32 degrees so OH WELL England, I’m going to be off¬†getting a tan!!

-x-

5 signs that I am stressed

Stress is just horrible, isn’t it?

The NHS says that stress is “the feeling of being under too much mental or physical pressure”, but I’m not sure I agree with this. My life isn’t pressured right now, really. It’s certainly busy, and tiring, but I don’t feel pressured.

Last year I was signed off from work due to stress – working two jobs, both of which are demanding and essentially require your whole self, the whole time, that’s pressurised.

This, right now, is nothing.

So why am I stressed?!

I think for me, stress happens when I don’t feel like my life is working out as I would like it, and when I have no control or no idea what to do to make a difference.¬†Right now, I feel like aspects of my past are coming back to haunt me and I don’t want this. I’m seeing old troubles repeating themselves, and other than completely changing my entire personality there is nothing I can do to stop it.

This is what’s making me stressed.

Last year, after being signed off, I promised myself that I would do better at recognising the “warning signs”, so that I don’t get sucked down into that nightmare again.

So how do I know?

My throat hurts – as a teenager I had recurring bouts of tonsilitis, every 6-8 weeks, which would knock me out for a week at at time. My doctor said it was partly a genetic predisposition to the infection, but it could also be¬†due to stress. I had my tonsils out 2 years ago so now I know that¬†if I get a sore throat it means I’m stressing too much.

I get obsessively neat Рyes, I am a total control freak. At the best of times this is manageable, and I can even get to be borderline messy (shock horror) if I am completely happy. But, if things around me are out of my control, I resort to obsessively controlling the area that I can Рmy house. My neatness comes out in needing everything clean and tidy with things to be in their proper places.

I talk to others less – as a naturally introverted person I do often have to force myself to hold conversations and be sociable. When I’m stressed this effort really drops and I’m perfectly content in my own company

I call my Mum more often¬†– this is pretty obvious, right? She’s like my comfort blanket and if things aren’t going well I need to talk it through with her

I don’t sleep well – I love my sleep. I need at least eight hours a night, if not nine. When I’m stressed, it shows in my sleep pattern – I get fidgety and uncomfortable, I throw my pillows around and my quilt usually ends up rotated 90 degrees if not completely upside down!

I know it may seem strange that I’ve made a blog post out of a list of stress-symptoms, but it actually does help me to identify what’s going on and begin to do something about it. Plus, it’s my blog so if you don’t like my choice of subjects, it’s a bit tough actually!

-x-

 

Ups downs and middles

This has been a very up and down week. I don’t think I’ve liked it much! There have been some¬†really bad points (Monday) and some really good points (Tuesday prayer time!) so¬†essentially it’s equalled out to an ‘ok’ week, but I’m so¬†ready for it to be over.

I just don’t think I’ve caught up from last week – we had a case going to court last Friday and didn’t have our notes sorted, so my colleague and I spent all day Wednesday, all day Thursday and then 4 hours on Thursday evening trying to get caught up. We didn’t manage it, though it was ok because they weren’t needed as urgently as we’d been led to believe. Not frustrating at all…

We could not have been more annoyed really. Me especially, since I cancelled all my other work on Wednesday and Thursday as well as not going to Small Group on Thursday night to get it all done.

The positive side of¬†it all is that we do now have a handle on it, so are prepared for when the notes¬†are required…but unfortunately it means that¬†this whole week I have been playing catch up – against myself!

I wrote my to-do list¬†yesterday…17 items. Over the day I completed 12, but added another 9. Today I finished all but two of them, which felt very impressive even for me.¬†I just now feel completely exhausted…the weekend cannot come soon enough!

In other¬†news, one of my foster carers might have TB and is in hospital…cue frantic call to Mum to confirm that I was vaccinated (her response: “have you got a BCG scar?” Me: “yes.” Her: “then yes, you’re vaccinated”)¬†and panicked Googling of symptoms/contagious-ness of TB to check that the vaccine doesn’t run out or stop working…we were all on high alert!!

If he has it, I may need to be tested since I work closely with the family and am considered high risk as I’m quite immunosuppresed – but that’s all just another adventure that I’ll take if it happens.

Roll on Saturday…just need to cope through tomorrow first.

-x-

 

confessions of a workaholic

Wow. It’s been months since I last posted. Life has been a little (well, a lot!) crazy. (That’s really bad grammar right there!) I won’t be boring and post a super-long explanation of all that’s going on, so here is a summary.

Right now I’m in Devon, staying with my lovely mum for some much-needed TLC. Why ‘much-needed’? Well…it turns out, and this is a real shocker, I am not super-human. Bummer, huh?!

That’s a shorter summary than I intended. And, also a little more flippant, cos what’s really going on in my life is a bit more heavy-going.

I kind of had a little meltdown, and got completely exhausted and overwhelmed with just about everything; to the extent where I had to be signed off work for two weeks (which has been extended for another two weeks, so a total of a month off).

I got to the stage where I couldn’t even feel happy when I woke up in the morning, because I knew the day that was ahead of me would just be jam-packed full of stuff, that I just couldn’t deal with. I think the’technical term is “burn-out”, which lots of people – mostly ex-Impactors – warned me against; but me, being me, thought I was totally above all that and I had it sorted.

Um…no.

An older lady at my church in Plymouth, when I explained why I was home, looked at me and said “there is a reason why God made a Sabbath, Sarah.”

Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the stuff that I do [by the way; stuff isn’t the best word, because I truly care about every student I meet with or disciple, and I love all my tasks and responsibilities…but I’m not gonna write a huge list of what I do].

But loving the stuff is the problem. On our first day of Impact training, Rachel Wilson gave us seven top-tips…one of which was “JESUS is the bread of life, not church.” It is so easy to completely pour myself into all the stuff, and run around like a crazy person, and then fall into bed at whatever-o’clock, feeling absolutely exhausted and having spent no time with God in that entire day (except for maybe a rushed “please God, give me energy right NOW!” prayer) and tell myself that it’s ok, because God created me and made me a servant-hearted person, only to wake up a few hours later and do the whole thing again.

I mean, I like busy-ness, but it all got way too much, and I didn’t let on to anyone that I was having a hard time. I couldn’t. I’m my own worst enemy in that respect, because I hate to ask for help (and here’s the biggest confession: I often can’t even bring myself to ask for help from God, which is just wrong)

There is probably some big psychological explanation for why I find it so hard…but I think it’s pretty simple really:

I have always been the “go-to” person: the one that my friends went to for advice, and help…because they knew that I was reliable, and loved them and would make myself available to them. (None of these things are bad things, by the way. They’re actually biblical, but don’t ask me for a reference) And really, I like being¬† the “go-to” person. I like knowing that people will come to me for help, trusting that I will try to help them. I love that God has made me into that person.

Here’s a question though: who does the “go-to” person get to go to?

The answer is “God”, always…but also, other people (like friends and a discipler). There is comfort to be had in relationships with other people; as some person said somewhere, “a problem shared is a problem halved” – it’s an over-used phrase but it’s true.

Even though I know that, I struggle so much to actually put it into practice. It’s very hypocritical really, because I disciple five amazing young women – they are beautiful and fun and striving to be Godly, and I’m there telling them that they can call me anytime to chat and pray, because God gave us these relationships for our own good – but then in my own relationships I refuse to make myself vulnerable because I’m scared that people will think I’m weak.

How can I expect my girls to be vulnerable, and honest, and accountable to me, and to lean on God, when I am leaning completely on my own strength rather than his.

There is a happy point to all this, I promise! Being signed off was a big wake up call, and showed me that I need to start making changes and breaking down the walls that I’ve put up around myself – because ultimately they are hurting me and they are hurting God; because me burning myself out by doing everything in my own strength is really not glorifying to him at all. We need rest, and sleep, and time that is just for God and us.

Somewhere along the way I forgot how good my God is; that he is a King who brings rest and sustains all things (including me) but I’m remembering now.

For a great resource to remind you of who God is, look here: http://www.thecitychurch.org.uk/autoplayLQ.php?video=480