Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Pressure From Without or Within?

I am feeling pressure today. Actually, I've been feeling pressure for a couple of weeks. I hate feeling this way, because when I'm under pressure, I snap at my friends and ignore my husband. I don't like myself very well when I'm like this, and I'm trying to get to the bottom of it. Journaling helps me organize my feelings, so maybe it will help me find some peace today.

Where is the pressure coming from? Is it coming from other people, situations or is it coming from myself? Maybe it's a combination. Here's where I feel pressure:
  • From my church, who asks me to give sacrificially of my time and money. And that is scriptural. Yet this week, I'm being asked to choose between church activity and a family event. What I really want to do is spend time with my extended family--something I don't get to do very often, even though we moved 2,000 miles to be closer to them. But I feel guilty for not being able to give of my time and energy to a very worthy cause that happens to fall on a day when I've been asked to attend a Mother's Day Lunch. Pressure.
  • From my employer, who is also my church, who asks me to put my all into everything I do. Don't give God a half-hearted product! We have a huge event coming up and there are tons of communication details that need to be done. If they don't get done, people won't know what's going on and God's work may be hindered. Pressure.
  • From my husband who would like for me to be available when he's home. Sometimes he'd even like a home-cooked meal and clean clothes to wear to work! On top of that he likes to spend time with me--for me to be attentive and fully engaged with him. He's not feeling well this week and needs some extra TLC. I need to be 100% present with my husband. Pressure.
  • From my friends at work and outside work, who want me to have time to share warm fuzzies. I want so much to do that, I want so much to kick back with a cup of coffee and just share about what's going on in our lives. (I even dreamed about just sitting next to a friend and laughing last night!) Pressure.
  • From the children in my life, including my granddaughter, who lives 2,000 miles away. Her birthday is this weekend and I can't be there. Pressure.
  • From my son, who is struggling with so many issues. I can't fix things for him, but how do I not feel his pain to a certain extent. It's what mothers do, right? His birthday is next weekend, and I can't be with him either. Pressure.
  • From my dusty furniture and dirty floors. From my unmade bed and dirty laundry--even from my clean, unfolded laundry and my bathrooms that are crying out for a good cleaning. Pressure.
  • Even from my dog, who whines for my attention and keeps dropping her toy in my lap because she wants to play. Pressure.

Chuck Swindoll, in his book, Releasing Worry and Finding Worth As a Woman, says, "People with healthy self-esteem know who they are, feel little need to defend or justify themselves, feel little pressure to perform for the sake of others, and have the ability to feel and express the full range of human emotions. What they are on the outside reflects who they are on the inside. As a result, their thinking is not 'all about me' but 'all about glorifying God.'"

Well, if what I am on the outside reflects who I am on the inside this week, I am in bad shape. How do I get to that place where I don't feel pressure to perform for the sake of others? Isn't it my job to perform to the satisfaction of my employer? Isn't it my job to be a good wife to my husband, a good church member who is not just a pew warmer, a good friend to my girlfriends, a good mother to my children, a good grandmother to my grandchild, a good housekeeper and responsible pet owner?

But I have all these details swirling around in my head, and if I miss one, I'll be disappointing my pastors and my church, and maybe even God! I am not capable of being all these things to all these people at the same time, but how do I pick and choose?

I think I need to be on a constant boundary watch, making sure that work does not completely infiltrate my personal life. Sometimes the floors are just not going to get mopped. And maybe my husband just needs to take me out for dinner if he wants something other than frozen pizza. Or maybe he's more content with left-overs from last week than I realize. All I know is, something's got to give and I'm the only one who can make that decision.

God, I'm giving all these pressures to you. Today I will do my best to fulfill my commitments and leave the rest up to you. Will I do any of my tasks perfectly, probably not. So God, please fill in the blanks. Make up for the details that I miss. Let me put first things first and leave the rest to you. Let me not be afraid to ask for help (NICELY!) Help me to give others the grace that I am asking them (and You) to give me. Thank You, Lord, for peace. Help me to carry it with me everywhere I go today. Amen.

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I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!