Are you thriving or surviving? And why is it important to know the difference?
Drowning. Overwhelmed. Struggle. Not enough. Failure. These were things I was using to describe my everyday. What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get it together?? After praying and seeking answers constantly, it hit me- I am trying to live like I am thriving, but the reality is, I am surviving.
I have been in seasons of thriving. I was able to juggle my marriage, kids, homeschool, a photography business, volunteering, and friendships with little problem. I could eat healthy and make everything from scratch. I could lead groups, go to bible studies, social gatherings, and always felt so driven. I strived to be a better person everyday and wanted to encourage and love everyone around me well. I was able focus on my health and wellness, as well as those in my family too.
But here I am now. Feeling like life is just a crazy mess. Living in a shop with temporary living conditions. Even though our basic needs are met and we have more in the shop than a lot of people do, it is anything but ideal or easy. I don’t do well in clutter or dysfunctional living spaces and that is exactly where we are which leaves me feeling exhausted. We are building a house that we are personally doing a lot of work on which is also hard. We have 5 kids that keep us busy, even though we aren’t involved in much. Our kids range in age from 2-16 so we are constantly trying to balance the needs of teenagers and toddlers. We started a new business which requires lots of attention too. Then there are all the regular things of life, like dentist appointments, haircuts, and shopping trips for new shoes and so on, x7 people= time consuming.
The past 5 years have been really hard on our family. In 5 years, we have had 2 babies, one of which was born with a cleft lip. My dad took his life which left unshakeable grief at times and has been a lot to process. All 7 of us lived in a camper while we built a house. Then we knew the unexpected right thing to do was to sell that house. We had to close our business of 12 years and start a new one. These are just a handful of the events that have happened that have kept us all feeling as though we are on an emotional roller coaster, fighting to keep going.
As I prayed, I felt God saying to me “Stop fighting. Float. I have given you the ability to float. The more you fight the quicker you sink. You are exhausting yourself for no reason.” I felt so much comfort in this but I wasn’t even sure what it meant. The more I went to The Word for affirmation, the clearer it all became. I was fighting for so much that God wasn’t asking me to fight for. If I would stop, rest in Him, and seek only what He was calling me to, I wouldn’t be sinking any more.
I am in a season of survival. Each day I’m just trying to make it through. There are so many reasons why I am here in this place but I had to understand what being here meant for me. I realized that what I was doing was trying to give something I didn’t have to give at the moment, all because I use to be able to. I don’t have extra energy, time, or strength to give anything or anyone outside of my home. I can’t volunteer, lead bible studies, manage others, or start something new and exciting. For me, this doesn’t seem natural or normal. I can do all the things. But when I give what little I have to people outside of my home, I am short of everything I need to do well at home. I know God has called me to be a wife and mom first and in this season, that is about all I can do if I want to do it well.
Being able to name the season– surviving not thriving, has allowed me to adjust my expectations and understand what needs to happen for me and my family.
I can’t do a lot of things that my heart desires in this season, but that is ok. I also can’t compare my journey because some people have more to give right now then I do. All I can do is assess where I am right now and make choices that makes sense for us. I know that every yes means no to something and because of this season, I have to be even more careful about how I balance my yes and no’s. I know that this season isn’t forever and one day I will enter back into a season of thriving.
For now, I am embracing this season, adjusting my expectations, giving myself lots of grace, and setting my sights on what I know is mine. I write this as an encouragement to anyone who feels like they aren’t making it. Who feels overwhelmed and unsure what to do. Name your season and decide what you can do in it. Don’t feel bad for needing to let things go in this season. Do what is best for you and your family, knowing one day this season will pass and you will get back to where you want to be!