“How are you?” She asked, not as a generic greeting but out of genuine concern for the answer. 

Without restraint the answer comes easily “I am exhausted and I am sad.”

Exhaustion and pain are something we usually avoid at all costs. As human beings we tend to do everything we can to avoid the discomfort of being overly tired or facing pain. Yet, today I find myself so thankful for both exhaustion and pain. 

I have been having a difficult time lately. Difficult emotionally and difficult logistically. While it has been difficult and painful I am starting to find ways to feel more freely and truly myself than I have in years. Isn’t that always the way? Our most profound growth always comes through seasons of pain. 

Pain shows us much:

Pain shows us our strength 

Pain shows us how we respond under pressure 

Pain shows us our weaknesses 

Pain shows us where we can depend on support and, painfully, where we cannot

The reasons for my recent pain are lengthy, personal, and complex. Relationships are hard. Motherhood is hard. Raising children with special needs is hard. Owning your truth is hard. Closing the chapter on having children biologically, as I did with my hysterectomy, is hard. Struggling with your faith is hard. Living away from your tribe (but somewhere you love) is hard. Anxiety is hard. Mommy depression is hard. There have been a lot of hard and painful things going on lately and some days the pain is overwhelming. 

My exhaustion is just becoming the state of my being. My cup is empty and yet I must continue to pour out on those I love, because they need it and also because it is who I am as a person. The exhaustion is teaching me as much as the pain. 

Exhaustion means:

I do not have the energy to hide from myself 

I do not have the energy to worry over trivial things such as if the laundry got put away

I do not have the energy to parse out my personality. I am an open book, always have been, and exhaustion makes keeping quiet harder. My truth slips out without me having the energy to edit it

I do not have the energy to fight with myself, and when the fight stops I realize how often I am fighting with myself

It’s been a dark season. I can see the light dawning on the edges though and I am so thankful for this season and all I have learned. 

I have learned that I am vey prone to self-criticism, self-doubt, and second guessing myself. This has lead me to foolishly look outside of myself and God to find approval, when where I should have been looking was inward and upward. Looking in the wrong direction with misguided expectations is the quickest way to be disappointed. 

I have learned that all the chatter about filling your own cup, self-care, and being only one person are true. It really matters, and it has to be a priority or you will find yourself burnt out and unsure how to repair the damage. 

I have learned that it is not only ok to be myself but paramount to the happiness and peace of not only myself but also my family. 

I have learned that you can be doing exactly what you feel called to do in life and still find yourself exhausted or discouraged by it all. 

I have learned that life is much more fluid and in more shades of grey than I could ever have imagined and that there really is no one right way to do anything so trusting yourself is paramount. 

I entered this season of darkness feeling lost and confused. As I am coming out of it I have found myself and realized I couldn’t have made the journey in a season of light or joy. I needed the pain. I needed the exhaustion. I needed to be   forced to look within. I needed to plumb the depths of this darkness to truly begin to find myself.