When You're Overcome with Weariness
There are times when I feel like God has given me more than I can handle.
For example, as I write this, I’m riding the subway back home from a full day of working in Manhattan, the place that can stir up feelings of stress in me with its perpetual motion and crowding, and while my heart longs for a quiet life in the mountains, it feels like I have been led to the city, like something is unfolding outside of me - apart from my conscious desires, plans, or will.
I laugh, sometimes, because this is the tragicomedy that is life: We can offer all the input we want, but life doesn’t listen to personal preferences and long list of demands.
No, there are times when we’ve been working for years to build a business, only to watch it fail; when we’ve mapped out our five year plan, only to be detoured by the death of a family member, the loss of a job, or a sick child. It is part of our nature to crave order, and when we life throws us into the fire of uncertainty, it can leave us feeling overwhelmed, like it’s too much to handle.
So, what do we do when we feel weary from life’s unexpected chaos? To whom do we turn when plans fall through? What’s the answer when we survey our lives only to find that there are aspects of it that cause sadness or pain? Simply put, what do we do when we’ve just had enough?
Here’s what I’ve learned: You can be the most loving, hardworking, and dedicated person, and still, life happens. You can set positive intentions, meditate and pray, and still, things don’t work out. You can be the best mother, wife, businessman, or student, and none of that matters when you’re going through a divorce, your company files for bankruptcy, or you’ve been given a diagnosis that doesn’t look good.
John Green said it best in The Fault in Our Stars: "The world is not a wish-granting factory.” Life has a plan, and even when we read every book on manifestation, we do not really understand the intricacies of the laws of the universe. Tragedy strikes both the holy and the unholy, the just and the unjust. No one ever said that if you meditated enough, ate enough kale, and said your daily affirmations that you’d be given a life free of problems.
What you are promised is the peace and love of God - in spite of the circumstances, but, oftentimes, it can feel like God has turned his back on you, especially when you’re struggling. What you are promised is the grace to get through the next five minutes - that’s all, and some days, that has to be enough.
Eventually, there comes a time when you have to let go of your plans and surrender everything to the will of God, not out of apathy; quite the contrary - as the result of relinquishing the need to continually appease the mind’s ever-growing list of desires.
When I move, I’ll be happy, our minds say. When I get a new job, I’ll feel better. if my partner changes, I’ll feel less stressed, we tell ourselves.
While it’s nice to visualize and imagine a great life, it’s tiresome to attach meaning to eternal things that are inherently devoid of meaning. God will strip away whatever idol you are holding on to, meaning, whatever is keeping you from your peace, be it your partner, house, or job. While you still have resistance in you - the belief that fill-in-the-blank should be different - God will go to work on softening you, until you surrender, until you drop the resistant thoughts that profess that there’s something in your life that’s keeping you from joy.
So, here’s the key: Live in your too-small house and be at peace. Stay at your crappy job until you no longer have thoughts of anger or frustration. Be grateful for that rundown car you drive that breaks in the middle of the highway, in the middle of the night, in the middle of the winter. Love your body even when it’s sick, especially when it’s ten or twenty pounds heavier than it’s used to being.
The world will leave you weary. Withdraw your attention from the word, idols, or anything that robs you of your peace, and focus instead on the blessings in your life. Often, they are simple and easily go unnoticed, such as the warmth of a cup of coffee, or the way it feels to have a good snuggle with your dog, but they are the antidote to your weariness, because life happens, so you have to let life have its way with you, because it will, and it’s easier if you give up the fight.