I have realized that my therapist, Dana, who I have known and loved for years is trying to kill me. She gave me the task of writing out my actual schedule this week as part of my processing through my anxiety. So I did what any good patient does and went and bought the cutest calendar, and sat down to write it out. The trick was I had to actually write out everything I have to do and include a realistic time frame to complete a task. This murder is a slow one. I sat down to do my schedule and did two days before I started feeling the chest pains. I thought, “This is bad for my health,” and pushed it away. You see I have three calendars. In order to keep my sanity I don’t introduce those three calendars to each other.
My first calendar is used for propaganda. It is to keep moral up around here. This calendar is shared between all family members. It is a compilation of everyone’s school deadlines, after school activities, sports, serving at church and appointments. It is beautifully color coordinated, and even has alerts set up. This calendar lulls my family into a false sense of organization. They can all look at the calendar and say, “Oh, we know exactly what is going on today, I love my life!” But in reality this calendar only contains about 50% of the actual payload for a week. To keep my people from running away I need this calendar to sell to them that I am on top of things, they know what is coming and we are all in this together.
My second calendar is my cleaning and housework schedule. As you remember I am just realizing I am a housewife. With that realization I decided to attack the house work like it was my JOB (because, well it is). This is the running to-do list to keep this house from looking like 4 people, 3 goats, 1 dog, and 2 puppies live here. I know you will say, “But, Sarah, all those things do live there.” I will say to you that a clean house is what separates us from the wild animals. I will also say that if this house is not clean I WILL GO INSANE AND I WILL TAKE YOU WITH ME!!!!
Then the third calendar. This one is in my head. This one contains the things I want to do. Lunch with friends in downtown Rockwall, followed by shopping at some of the cute shops. Doing Bible Studies, meeting people to discuss deep theological topics. Manicure/pedicure/eyelash tinting. Working out. Date nights with Jesse (Which is the reason for the previous grooming activities). Collecting antiques to make my house feel like a home that Joanna Gaines would be proud of. Planting a garden so I can feed my family off our own land. Raising chickens. Writing a blog, a book and anything else that needs writing. This calendar lives somewhere between dreams and reality. It is me with no time constraints, no constraints at all. It is everything that feeds my spirit. It’s dreams and aspirations but also things that I need to do because it makes life enjoyable. Because let’s be honest, unless I decide to learn how to spin dog hair into yarn and get a thrill out of making dog hair knit sweaters, vacuuming dog hair will remain something I have to survive everyday.
The problem with introducing these three calendars is that these three calendars can’t live in the same time space continuum. And I think this is what Dana knew when she asked me to write this down. I think she knows that my anxiety stems partly from living in this delusion that when “Things slow down, I will do__________.” What I have realized in the last few months is that life will never “slow down.” Life keeps spinning and things keep needing to be done, and these darn dogs keep making more fur coats. I realized what Dana was after when I looked at my three calendars converged into one, I can’t do this calendar, and I don’t want to live out this calendar. This pace is what got me into trouble in the first place.
So no, she is not trying to kill me. Of course I am kidding. She is trying to get me to be realistic about what can be done by one person in one day. This past fall my break neck speed, saying yes to everything and my harassing myself to do more left me ill and a captive to anxiety. I could not do anything anymore. It was a time out. Was it God ordained, Yes. Was He being mean? No. He was being loving and kind and telling me, “Daughter, no one told you to work this hard at life except your own pride.” This break down led me to call my old friend Dana and say, “I need help, I’m going crazy.” And she said the most amazing thing to me, that I will never forget. She said, “Sarah, there is nothing wrong with you, this is what you have done to try to cope with life and God is asking you to find a new, godly way to cope.” Isn’t that the most beautiful thing you have ever heard? Maybe she is not a slow murderess.
So introducing the three calendars is about learning to approach life in a new way. It is about looking at the time I have available and making my schedule reflect what is important to me. It is about letting go of delusions about doing things when life slows down. It is about my relationship with God more than anything else. I want my schedule to reflect my love for Him. I would love to say that I have already figured out what my new calendar looks like but I haven’t. I’m still having chest pains looking at this beast. I’m screaming for a cleaning lady, a cook, a gardener and good chauffeur, but my budget will not allow me to hire a “staff” to help me live out this calendar. However, I am gently reminded that I don’t have to figure the new calendar out today. This is good news because looking at this thing makes me want to lay on the couch with a bowl of potato chips, chocolate of any kind, a cheeseburger and fries and Netflix. I have to lay it on the altar before the Lord and ask Him to show me what is important to Him. This is what being a living sacrifice means. It means setting my expectations and desires aside. It’s saying, “God, I hate seeing dog hair on the floor, I hate that I don’t get to sit and write all day, but Lord, I will set those aside and do what you want me to do.” Then, as Dana keeps telling me, “You sit with it, you leave room to think it over and don’t try to fix anything.” Wait, maybe she is trying to kill me.