Life is pretty crazy. Maybe your life is like mine and you’re a mom buried in diapers, laundry and Hotwheels. Maybe you are financially strapped and struggling each day to get a job, keep a job, keep your house or get out of debt. Are you the ‘soccer mom or dad’ distraught keeping up with your children’s seemingly endless list of extracurricular activities? Either way if you are like many people you are fighting, treading to keep your head above water, hoping for the next big something so that you can take a breath. Survival is the goal. Having just enough to maintain status quo feels like success. I remember earlier days as a mom thinking if I got to brush my teeth that day it was a good day. Or on a worse day the success was marked by the fact that we all made it alive to bedtime. My children keep me busy. We all have our own busy-ness. If your goal lately has been to simply make it through the day then you have landed in survival mode. Survival mode keeps us narrow minded, tired, worried and scared.
As long as we are in survival mode the only person we can think about is ourselves. If we are drowning how do we reach out to someone else without pulling them down? Maybe all you really want is a manageable day – just one day that doesn’t feel like you’re brought to the end of yourself, where things feel under control. If this is your life why would you want to add one more thing to your plate? Because you want more than just a manageable day. You want a dynamic life of love and hope. You want mountaintop victories and peace that’s not based on logic. You want more. You want all the promises, all the dreams and the happily ever after too. And who can blame you?
…those who plan what is good find love and faithfulness. All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. Proverbs 14:22b-23
Stop the panic and fear that things are never going to change. Change the thinking that breads fear into thoughts of hopeful anticipation of good. Sometimes we have to stop treading water, take a big breath and sink to the bottom, then push our legs up hard to break the waters surface with force. What does that look like outside the metaphor? It could be as simple as changing one thing.
When I was overwhelmed by my sleepless life of mothering three babies I reached a point where I was sick of hearing the complaints and whining in my head. I am energized by sleeping. I love sleep. Some people need quiet alone time, others need lively interaction with others, I need sleep. Mothering little ones I was up several times a night and then up early for the day. I started the day thinking about how tired I was, how tired I was going to be after this long day and how even if I get a nap (which is likely to be interrupted) I was still going to be tired – I felt lousy, grumpy, and overwhelmed all day. So I made one simple change. I decided not to think on that. (This is an example of taking our thoughts captive, and tearing down strongholds.) When I woke up – as soon as I could I started thinking about anything except how tired I was. As soon as I thought about the doom of exhaustion mid thought I would stop, tell myself, ” No, I will not whine about this!” -and begin being thankful for things. Thankful for my children, thankful for hot coffee, thankful for sunbeams in my window or the pitter pat of rain outside. Anything. Soon my mood changed, and then one moment I noticed I wasn’t as tired. All that grumpy whining sucked energy right out of me and when I closed that drain I felt the difference. I had more energy to take on the day and give to my family.
Maybe your one change is as small and simple as mine was or maybe you need to make some bigger changes. If you’ve recognized you’re in survival mode it’s time to get out. We are designed to thrive not just survive, to have dominion and authority over our lives, not be the victim of our circumstances. We hit the targets we aim for – sometimes it takes lots of practice but if we don’t aim we’re sure to miss. Even if it feels like the sky will fall stop for a few moments. You need to have a good goal: for your family, your marriage, your career, your body. Set some goals. Be intentional. If there are activities that are weighing you down that don’t help you reach those goals eliminate them. Often times just stopping and thinking about what we are doing makes a difference.
Great! You’re on your way out of survival mode. Next we’ll look at how to stay out and the connections that matter. (to be continued…)
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