Tag Archives: setbacks

When Your Reality Makes You Weary

It was a gift—a relaxing camping trip with my family.  We had unplugged, played, napped, laughed, read books, and connected.  Heavenly, but it couldn’t possibly last forever. Now it was back to reality.

Our family’s “reality” includes my husband returning to his usual midnight shift job, with a Wed-Sun work week.  It was Wednesday evening; in anticipation of his first night back to work, he laid down for his usual nap.  After a hot summer day, the heat still lingered into the evening.  My 3 boys were buzzing around, indoors and out, playing with their neighborhood friends.  Doors were opening and closing loudly, the outside water faucet creaking on…and off…and back on.  I heard muffled squeals of excitement outdoors as I felt the rush of the cool A/C on my bare toes.

Then came a familiar wave of panic.  Like an unwelcome visitor, it plopped itself down in front of me and I was forced to acknowledge it.  I didn’t have to ask what prompted this feeling because I already knew.  It was the dread of being my husband’s “sleep gatekeeper.”  That’s what I call it, anyway.

I’ve always seen myself as the sole person responsible for his sleep quality, quantity, and therefore general health.  In my mind, everything hinges on him getting quality rest, something that evades most midnight-shifters.  When your husband struggles to meet his daily sleep needs, AND you have 3 active boys and a very vocal dog, the struggle to maintain a quiet house is exactly that, a struggle.

Midnight shift is counter-intuitive to human nature, offering up persistent fatigue, absent-mindedness (we call it “third shift brain”), and low vitamin D levels.  Those who work these hours take on an increased risk for heart disease, obesity, diabetes, depression, and cognitive decline.  As a wife, I’m keenly aware of the fact that the most dangerous part of my husband’s work day (despite being a police officer) is his drowsy drive home after shift.  To keep the house quiet during the day, I alter my laundry and vacuuming schedules, whether I park my car in the garage or out, and ration my trips in and out of my bedroom while he’s sleeping.  I pack what I need each day, and live out of our guest bathroom to avoid waking him.  (Many times I’ve forgotten crucial “items” and have had to improvise.)  It isn’t easy, or normal, but it’s how we’ve done life for over half of his 16-year career.

This particular Wednesday evening as the noise ensued and the panic came knocking, I realized that my physical response to our reality was second-nature, and had been for quite some time.  I felt the anxiety wash over me; choking back tears, I felt hopeless and stuck.  I didn’t want to do this anymore; I longed for the blissful normalcy that we had tasted on vacation!  I was weary.

Do you have weary moments?  The kind where there is no end in sight and you don’t have it in you anymore to endure?

I asked God for comfort and a Word.  Come to me all who are weary and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28.  When I studied this verse in Greek, I learned that weary means “exhausted (with toil or burdens or grief)” and rest means “to refresh; to cause one to cease from any movement or labor in order to recover and collect his strength; and to keep quiet, of calm and patient expectation.”  This kind of rest can only refresh when it is given from above.  I can’t achieve the full measure on my own.  Anything I try to do for myself is temporary, at best.

When there is no light at the end of the tunnel, it can feel impossible.  Enduring for as long as we must requires trust.  Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him because he cares for you. 1 Peter 5:6-7.  We can trust Him to take our burdens and lighten our loads and we can trust Him to strengthen us to endure anything that we face.  In this verse we also have the promise that it won’t last forever!  That summer evening, I needed to rest in these reminders.

I don’t have all of the answers, and I have my share of tears and fears.  All I know is that when I go to Jesus and cast my anxieties, somehow miraculously, I’m able to get up the next day and do it all again.  The same can be true for you.  Hang in there…think action verbs: come, trust, and cast.  You will find rest for your weary soul.

Setbacks Can Reset Your Priorities

Have you ever been stopped in your tracks by a setback? It might have been with your health, career, finances, or relationships. While I will focus on fitness setbacks here, the takeaways can be applied to just about any situation.

Some people are fortunate enough to emerge from a health condition or injury unscathed, but most of us retain physical and/or psychological scars from the experience.  Are you scarred?  You’re in good company.

It stinks to have setbacks.  I’ve had my share of them…injuries, surgeries, disease, crushing fatigue, broken metabolism, surgeries.  Oh, and did I mention surgeries?

When I first got in shape and became a trainer, I had a plan in mind about how my “fit life” would progress…the workouts I would be able to do…the races I would be able to run…the body I would achieve.  Then, life happened…

In the thick of my struggle, it was hard to see the big picture.  I wondered if my situation would improve or if I would have to say goodbye forever to my definition of a fit lifestyle.

There were physical scars that taunted me: will this inflammation go away or will I always have a belly like this? I can play connect-the-dots with the incision scars on my abdomen. My neck looks like the laces of a football.  I’m too exhausted and in too much pain to exercise. 

The psychological scars were really tough, too: What will it mean for me if I can’t exercise like I used to? What if I have to go up a jeans size (or two) for good? I may not ever have the body that I hoped for.

These scars can be dream-killers. But what happens when we tuck them into our stories and press on to more meaningful goals?

Perhaps the lessons I have learned will resonate with you:

  • We have plans for our lives, but they may not be God’s plans for us. If anyone is guilty of over-planning and “control-freaking,” it’s me. I have to continually remind myself of this teaching…

James 4:13-15 – Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit” – yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.

Perhaps if I ran all of my goals by God first, allowing him to edit them as needed, I wouldn’t have been so devastated by life’s setbacks.

  • My goals – vs – living a full life: do these concepts complement or compete? When you are forced to re-examine your goals during a setback, it could be a gift of perspective. My goals of achieving a certain size or look were limiting my potential and had little to do with living a full life. I was given this gift of perspective during an 18-month ordeal:

Thyroid-related fatigue, my nemesis, threw a giant wrench in my goals several years ago. It was crushing and incapacitating. I could barely care for my family, my memory and decision-making skills suffered, my body ached constantly and exercise was extremely difficult. Despite sleeping 14 hours a day, I never felt rested. I was living half of a life, barely keeping my head above water.

During that season, I yearned for the energy to be a fully engaged mother, wife, friend, and trainer. My goals of achieving a flat stomach and toned legs suddenly paled in comparison. Ironically, certain exercises were making my condition worse, and in order to get well, my fitness goals HAD to change.

I adopted a new perspective. What can I do fitness-wise to improve my health in a way that will help me to live a full life? I wanted to be “fit to serve” those around me: my family, friends, clients, church family, and even strangers.

Investing in relationships, intentionally loving others, living in the moment, and being God’s hands and feet—this perspective suddenly became more important than having less cellulite and being able to do unassisted pull-ups. I’m not saying that you should never have these goals…just don’t stop there!

  • Having eternal impact. Our lives are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes (James 4:14). Every once in a while we get a reminder that life is fleeting, that there is a bigger picture. We have such a short time on this planet and time’s a wastin’. What enduring legacy do you want to leave? How can your goals maximize eternal impact?

The physical and emotional pain from setbacks is real. Acknowledge it. Give it a voice. Tuck it into your story, but don’t let it define you. When you are ready, take your next step with renewed purpose.