Sunday, October 7, 2012

One Hazard of Going


 Going can make you really tired, man. It's the actual miles and the hours, but it's more than that. It's things you can't reach out and touch, things that twist up your thoughts and scatter your sleep.

Cory and I talk about this more and more. It has become a real challenge to find balance and I'm left wondering if "balance" even exists in this world. Some nights all I want to do is cozy up on the couch and read something mindless, but then I remember that it's my turn to write back and I do that instead.

I could use a night out with my husband, a night out with my girls, a night where I sleep for many hours in a row. But we're regular people with jobs and children and this stacked on top of a tower that was already pretty tall. It would feel really weird to skip a jail visit for a quiet hour in an antique store. It's not a decision made begrudgingly. It's where our hearts live now.

But I can feel life squeezing in a little tighter. I feel myself stretching thinner. This road is fulfilling and brings so much joy. But good grief, it makes me sluggish.

It would be nice to hope that their lives would settle down a bit, so mine could follow suit. But that's not happening any time soon and even if it did, there's someone else waiting in the wings.

My soul-sister Becca stole the words right out of my mouth:

"...there is also the undeniable fact that in our type of ministry there are a lot of crises. A lot. And every need seems urgent. He is going to jail. She is fourteen and pregnant and has nowhere to go. Their electricity is off. He is suspended again. They are hungry because there is no food at home. Poverty leaves little margin, and we try to stand in the gap for them. But we need to figure out how to create more sustainable solutions, how to love our neighbor without destroying ourselves." - Becca Stanley

That's something I'm working on right now, loving them without destroying me. Or us. 

I understand the simple truth of "you have to take care of yourself in order to take care of others", but I have used that as my ticket to sitting on my duff in the past and I'm just pretty over that mentality now. I trust that there's a solution and that maybe the solution is for me to continue to allow my soul to grow. Maybe there's still just too much Me fighting for its place in a life that was never supposed to belong to mine. (Matthew 10:39)

I guess I don't have an easy answer tonight. This stuff is simple, but it's really kind of complicated, at least at the beginning.

So we sort it out while we go and fight for some of that elusive margin on the way.


{If you're feeling anything like me, check out Becca's 31 Days series on Margin. I've got high hopes that she'll figure this out for all of us! ha. She's a beautiful writer and a dreamy photographer and she might understand about Robert more than anyone else next to Cory.}


22 comments:

  1. wow, I've been out of blogland for a while, but as I read this I realize that this last year has been a lot of soul stretching for you and your family. I know that stretched out feeling, I'm not on a path that's nearly so intense as yours.
    That fight of the flesh is tricky, it's the simple 'good' things like you said about just antiquing for an hour, or a night with the girls, that get in the way of the 'best' things. God is doing amazing things not only through your family, but to it. I'll pray for his grace through the stretching, his thickening up of the thin and rest.
    Good night and God bless

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  2. Sometimes I feel at such a loss for words when I come here, and it's not because I don't understand…...I just feel too close to those folks you are ministering to. My heart is heavy and glad all at once to read about how you choose to spend your hard-earned free time, I can't even tell you. To think that you care for those three young kids all day and have enough left in you to give to others….Shannan….you have a beautiful heart and you remind me that God is so good.

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  3. Thank you for going and for inspiring me to 'go' too.

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  4. I have been a clinical social worker for 18 years. But I was born a social worker. I started going to nursing homes to do the resident's fingernails and helping at meal times to feed those who could not feed themselves since I was a girl. I remember the tired that comes from trying to bridge the gap. The truth is, the gap just gets that much bigger on the other side just when you think you are almost there - just about to make the difference that keeps this family from falling over - again. After countless jobs as a Youth Advocate (YAP), in-home family therapist for at-risk youth, etc., I realized that this is a broke system, a culture of dysfunction, that I cannot change. So the bottom line was, I got out to regroup and remember why it was I decided to make a living helping others in the first place, and decide where it was I could actually make a change and stick to it. But now that I am in private practice and caught up in the room parent-soccer coach-soccer board member-Scout asst. den leader-Sunday School teacher drama, I realize that I got more satisfaction from giving my low-income clients my gift cards from Christmas (I told them they were donated to my office and they were just the person I thought of when the "donator" dropped them off) then from giving all of myself to parents and townsfolk who then turn around and talk badly of your good intentions. Giving of yourself requires a thick skin and the ability to know when you cannot make a change. Float with the tide,don't try to swim against it. The tide always ebbs and flows. No man will ever change that. And so I would guess that when you are at your best and you feel the power of the tide behind you, you never question whether or not you can continue to hear your calling, but when the water pulls back and your all dried out lying on the shore asking God how you found yourself here and how does this all make sense - always know, the tide will be back. The power to make a change will be yours again. Sometime you just have to ride the tides and except when you cannot make a change. God has a funny way of making things right again. And you will feel right again. With the power of the tide behind you. Hang in there, Momma. But know when it's time to go. Don't be the sacrificial lamb. That wasn't why God put you on this earth. You are a shining star in a cloudy sky. You are special and a gift to those who know you. Don't ever forget that......and don't ever think that's it's not ok to walk away. Always know when it's time to go. Sometimes you can overstay your welcome and then it's too late. You lose faith in helping because the job just go too big. I don't mean to sound cold, but those of us in helping professions will tell you the same thing. So always know when it's time to go....but also know when it's time to go back in to the water:) I love to read your posts. Thanks for being you.

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    1. Yikes, that was long. Sorry!

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  5. Every day I deal with children who live in poverty. The education system wonders why they can't learn, wonders why they don't have appropriate social skills for school, why their clothes are not weather appropriate, why they look like they haven't had a bath in a while. It is exhausting. The emotional toll supporting families takes makes me wonder how I can keep going.

    Bless your ministry. I get paid for what I do, you volunteer. And I have the nerve to wonder how I can keep going. :)

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  6. "Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me--watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." --Matthew 11:28-30
    I'm reading a new book called The Jesus Life and thinking I may need to pitch this whole "balance" idea and start striving more for "rhythm." maybe it's kinda like what "Anonymous" said above about the tides.
    Praying that His yoke will soon feel lighter upon your blessed shoulders.

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    1. How did I forget to thank you for this? Thank you. So much. Love you!

      ps - I keep hearing your voice inside my head telling me to go to bed early. Haha! maybe.

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  7. Aw shucks sweet friend :-) you made my day with your post - oh and I do totally get it. And I'm tired so I dont have any words of wisdom haha . . . love you!

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  8. What an awesome series! Yours and Becca's. It's got me thinking maybe this balance in Christ's body has to do with bearing each other's burdens. My wider margin picks up a little of your burden and voila (or viola, as you like to say)...balance. How do you get others to join in and help you? Just keep telling your story, FPFG. We're coming.

    I'm with Jessica up there, too, with the rhythm. Love that. And you!

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  9. "Maybe there's still just too much Me fighting for its place in a life that was never supposed to belong to me." I get that. May God's Spirit lead us where he wants, and may we be obedient to follow, whether it's action or be still, may His business be our business.

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  10. I used to think of Jesus, as God only. Then someone taught on Matthew14:12-36 it was called a day in the life of Jesus. It starts out with John's death, Jesus tries to be alone to deal with the loss, but crowds show up, he ends up feeding all of them,then he again tries to be alone by sending the disciples ahead, and ends up coming to their rescue again. When they reach the other side he is once again met by the needy, sick, and lost, again he met their needs.
    Who ever taught that being a follower was walking the safe, prosperous,leave me alone behind my comfort zone, wasn't reading the true gospel.

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  11. We close on our house November 15. 414 reported crimes in a one mile radius around the new house last year, vandalism, armed robbery, assault and murder. We are involved in the community we serve right now, but will be in full immersion in a few short weeks. I will look forward to reading more of what Becca and you have to say about creating margin, as we continue on in our journey.
    Our biggest blessing is being in community with others that are called to the same mission and vision right here where we are. I am hoping that relationship and mutual support, as well as sharing the burdens among many will make the work lighter for all.
    I will be praying for you and your family as you join God in what He's doing where you live!

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  12. You are so right about the me-time thing. I have friends who tell me they worry I don't get enough of it ( I don't), but I can't help thinking I'll get plenty of it in heaven. Yesterday I was running late to church, again, and my kids were crazy and we had houseguests and one of our guys called and told me he needed to talk. He's battled addiction for the last 2 years, every time we think he's on the right track he lands somewhere he has no business being. I didn't want to talk. I wanted to have a Sunday just for me, but it was not meant to me. How could I not hug him and hold him and tell him I love him even when he's messing up? I saved him a seat in church and my kids climbed on him and loved on him and I knew God was saying, "This is very good." What more could a girl ask for on a Sunday? Love, love, love your heart that you share.

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    1. Love ALL of this, especially this: "I can't help thinking I'll get plenty of it in heaven."

      ps - Wanna come babysit my kids for a night while I mentally check out for a while? Haha.

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  13. Not sure if you're going to the Justice Conference in Philadephia next February, but reading this makes me think that you might enjoy it and meet many others there who are on this same journey and feel what you're saying very deeply. I hear you about the weariness and the desire for balance as you accompany others. Makes me think a lot of the writings of Robert J. Wicks related to Resilience. Not sure if you've read him or not, but he's pretty great and has done lots of work training chaplains, medical, and human service personnel who are in the helping professions over many years. Blessings to you and your family during this journey.

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    1. I haven't heard of this! Thanks for letting me know. I'll check it out!

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  14. I totally understand what you are feeling. I have felt...am feeling... it myself. My friend and I who are knee deep in ministry together have a steadfast rule that our own families must come first. That helps me keep perspective.

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  15. Have you ever read "When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself" by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert? I thought of the book as I read your post. You and your family are very inspiring and I so appreciate your honesty and genuineness. Blessings to you as follow hard after Christ.

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    1. I did. Loved it! Thanks for thinking of us. :)

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  16. Oh my goodness...your blog speaks to me so often. Linking to this on my blog! Thank you for your writing!!

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