First, let me say thank you for being so gracious as I took the day off on Thursday. I received a lot of little encouragements from you and it reminded me that as a blogger and someone who people count on to produce content, even if it’s only a few people, that it’s ok to admit we can’t do things. I had a pretty serious breakdown on Tuesday night that left me drained. I won’t go into all the details but generally I had reached my limit of doing and was empty. Thank God for a loving wife who is understanding when I start to unravel and gently encourages me back together.
As I have contemplated that event over the last couple of days I have been trying to understand the root of my struggles and what I might have been failing to do that led me to this breakdown and the one thing that keeps popping up is the phrase “You’re supposed to…” As a Boss I am supposed to be on time, organized, competent, and hard working. As an employee I am supposed to be loyal, diligent, initiating, and stable. As a student I am supposed to be intentional, smart, attentive, and studious. As a husband I am supposed to be loving, kind, faithful, compassionate, self-sacrificing, and comforting. As a christian I am supposed to be loving, joyous, peaceful, patient, kind, gentle, and self controlled. Life is full of little “supposed tos” and it doesn’t take long for them to overwhelm us. The pressure of doing diligence to each of the roles we play in life can multiply quickly and leave you feeling like you’re swimming in the deep end with a led vest under your raincoat and bricks tied to your galoshes.
#LetsBeHonest that is the season I have found myself in. I want so badly for my life to matter, to be counted in this world, to have a big funeral with LOTS of people doing LOTS of crying because I am departed. Despite having learned this lesson many times over I still seek to make this happen by serving the masses, spreading myself too thin, over doing it, over committing, over extending myself, giving more than I have, and eventually losing it. Now, that being said, I thank God that I don’t lose it like I used to and turn to my former addictions, I just have a giant sob session, snot all over myself, talk to a few friends, and move on.
I remember back in Dublin Georgia and some friends had started something called The Dash Project which encouraged people to life in consideration of how they were using their dash, the small line between the dates on their tombstones. I think back on that principle and realize that I took it to be about quantity of life rather than the quality of life that they intended. I am a man who always needs a little more and then some after that. Content is a word that I would use to describe myself if I were a liar.
So what are we supposed to do with the supposed tos? It’s obviously a good thing to pursue being loving, kind, patient, hard working etc. It’s definitely not a bad thing to want to make a difference, to want to impact the world, to want to use your dash well, but how are we to balance those demands with the reality of our humanness?
You may be discouraged when I say this but I believe that the answer actually lies in ADDING one more “supposed to”. That is that we are supposed to be human. With humanity comes a few realities that may not change the roles we fill but will definitely take us out of the pressure cooker. As a human we are imperfect. The sooner we can accept this fact and learn to laugh at our shortcomings the more fulfilling life will be. As humans we are learners and learning comes by trying and with trying comes failing and that is ok. For example, I work in a job that I am unqualified for, I am aspiring to be a writer with no background or education, and being a husband is on most days a total crapshoot because I’m pretty clueless. But I’m watching, experiencing, and remembering each of the lessons that come my way. As a human I am living a story that God is writing. My dash is his to deal with. When I relinquish control of that dash I am free to just walk and trust that he will guide me like the bumpers on the bowling lane. As a human I am weak. I need food, sleep, shelter, and relationships, and so there is no shame in seeking those things out. I don’t have to sneak off to meet needs out of fear that someone will think less of me because we’re all in the same boat.
My best friend that I have never met Bob Goff says it this way, “"Failure is just part of the process, and it's not just okay; it's better than okay. God doesn't want failure to shut us down. God didn't make it a three-strikes-and-you're-out sort of thing. It's more about how God helps us dust ourselves off so we can swing for the fences again. And all of this without keeping a meticulous record of our screw-ups."
So, how are you managing your supposed tos? How are your supposed tos managing you? What would it look like to accept your humanness and give yourself a day off. How would doing so better your life, your relationships, and extend the life God has given you to do even more good over the long haul. Join the conversation below.