Can I get a hand in the air if anyone else’s week has been sprinkled with crazy? Are you feeling a bit thready and overwhelmed? If one more person tells you, This is just a season, are you tempted to gouge your eyes out with an ice cream spoon?
By the show of hands, it’s safe to assume we’ve all sat in the uncomfortable-overwhelmed chair. Not cozy, or big enough to curl up on, the fraught condition urges us to jump off and find the nearest relaxing couch.
Life is abundant with times to give and times to receive. Both spaces are necessary, for secure times remind us to give comfort, and overwhelmed times remind us to receive, trusting others are a tangible extension of God’s love.
Giving and receiving. We can’t have one without appreciating the other.
In early spring, my hubby called from work and said he was taking me out for a night on the town. The babysitter will be there around 5. Be ready, he’d urged. When the doorbell rang, I giddily ran to the door to find a surprise visit from out-of-town friends, Lindsay and Amber. For weeks they’d been scheming with Bryan to whisk me away for a girl’s night out. Little did they know, just how in need of girlfriend heart-to-hearts and Mexican food I was. The evening was a humble depiction of friends who sacrificially gave their time, love and resources by offering a warm, resting spot. My only role? To thankfully accept.
A month ago I sat, cross-legged on plush, inviting cushions, holding Lindsay’s darling Kate. Over hearty salads with creamy dressing we connected about motherhood, how to be creative with a toddler and a newborn, and how to exercise personal passions while changing diapers, wondering where the best nursing spot is, and simultaneously trying not to fast-forward these frantic days. She rested while I got to snuggle her daughter. Then, down on the ground, I searched for bugs and leaves with her little man, craning our necks as airplanes flew over. I was in a place to joyfully give in the same way she had done for me months earlier.
Give. Receive. Give. Receive.
Then, holy moly, Fall free-falls upon us with sons in preschool and kindergarten. It’s soccer practice and PTA and packed lunches, and I basically live.sleep.eat. on the uncomfortable-overwhelmed chair.
Not to mention, ER visits, friends for coffee, prepping for speaking engagements. And did I mention that Thursdays are early release days? Guess who didn’t get the memo? Yep, Mom.of.the.Year right here. I will NOT be PTA President.
There is the birth of a sweet nephew, niece slumber parties, and then a friend’s sister loses her unborn son.
Death and life occur in the same breath. Joy and sorrow. Giving and receiving. A time for all.
So, yes, it’s been overwhelming. But as Mother Teresa inspires, “Give, but give until it hurts.”
I’m amazed, for when I am weak, and have no extra to give, He really is strong. Frazzled, everyday responsibilities and hands-held-open availability beckon to give and receive.
They come in sturdy support and soft prayers:
A knock, a friend’s smile, hugs as Christine offers to take my youngest to lunch so I can go for a walk and saturate thoughts in worship.
Prayers pour from Megan’s over-the-phone voice. You don’t have time to refill when you’re full of holes. Let God be your strength.
How uncomfortable I am being uncomfortable.
Freedom comes as I embrace the truth that I’m not meant to do life on my own. I’m to depend on His power. I actually need to sit in this uncomfortable chair in order to draw my eyes from my own doing, and focus on His wooing.
Solomon, in his later years, wrote wisdom in Ecclesiastes 3:1-8.
For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.
The Byrds sang about the same verses (listen along here)
To everything – turn, turn, turnThere is a season – turn, turn, turnAnd a time to every purpose under heaven
Illness, community, passions, birth, life, death- they come and go depending on the season. Some safe and cozy, others worn and feeble. Each “a time for every activity under heaven.”
Yes, friends, this is a season. One that asks you to let Him be your strength. It won’t last forever, and when it’s your turn, may you pull up your comfy couch and offer rest to those worn out and tired from sitting on the overwhelmed chair.
Once you’ve sat in both, you know all too well, the joy that comes in giving.
“Give, and you will receive. Your gift will return to you in full–pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into your lap. The amount you give will determine the amount you get back.” – Luke 6:38
Where do you find yourself today? If you’re in need of receiving, ask the Lord to be your strength, and invite someone to pray for you. If it’s a time to give, pray about who and how to give, and don’t hold back.