Burn and Crash: A Mom’s Confession

 In emotions, parenting

No, the title of this blog is not a typo or me being confused about how the saying really goes. I know the phrase “crash and burn” and I understand it. You can crash and not burn, so adding “and burn” to the end shows that it was not just a crash, but a crash that ended in flames.

But I’m the opposite. I’m a burn and then crash person.

I’m in a phase of life that is really, really busy. Confession: I just wrote the word hard and then changed it to busy because I was scared to write the word hard. Why? Because it feels blasphemous to complain about a season of life that my elders are constantly telling me I need to cherish for it’s brevity. And I get that, I really do. But I’m tired. Like, really, bone-deep tired. My life feels like one of those ant farm things my friends used to have as kids. There is always activity going on in multiple locations and it’s hard to even keep an eye on all the motion, let alone be part of all of it.

So I fear saying life is hard, but what I mean is, life is hard. I know it’s not just me, too, because I see you. I see you walk into church on Sunday with tears in your eyes and toddlers in tow with mismatched clothes. I see the circles under your eyes that you do an amazing job of concealing, but it’s easy for a fellow concealer like me to spot. I see that you’re one step away from breaking down, but you’re holding it together as best as you can. I see.

I go, go, go, and that’s the burn part. Burn out. I’m busy. My kids are busy. I’m always trying to be everything to everyone and to make it all look good at the same time. I push and push and I try to take the down times to “rest,” but in reality, “rest” is just more doing and pushing and I feel like I am never actually caught up on anything. All the while, I’m looking in the mirror, criticizing what I see, noticing new flaws every day and allowing them to stress me even further. It’s like a bad equation where an already busy a meets with a self-loathing b, to equal a c that can only be one thing.

That’s when the crash comes.

My most recent crash happened one Sunday morning (it’s always a Sunday, isn’t it??) as I walked into church. I marched into the lobby and, for seemingly no reason, and with very little prompting, I just started weeping. Yes, I am the pastor’s wife at my church. Yes, I felt like an idiot. Yes, I was embarrassed. I found myself hiding behind a curtain amidst the offering envelopes and (ironically) tissues. A dear friend came to find me and when she asked what was wrong I just started flubbering out apologies and saying things like “I have no idea what’s wrong with me!”

But, after a few moments, a few other things started pouring out of my mouth. Things like “I just feel so inundated with my own uselessness lately” and “I’m just so tired” and “I feel like I’m working so hard and seeing no results in anything.” Oh, and don’t forget this gem: “My husband is so great at what he does, but I’m completely replaceable!”

Not my finest moment.

I had crashed and I had crashed hard and fast. There were warning signs (quick temper, irritability, lack of sleep), but the crash is still always surprising. I’m pretty good at putting on a game face and faking it if I need to.   But when the crash comes, it just overtakes me, and I find that I’m helpless to stop it.

I don’t want to crash anymore. In order to do that, I have to stop burning myself out. I don’t know what that looks like for you, but for me, that means slowing down. I can’t do it all. There, I said it. I know this spits in the face of the Pinterest-crazed culture that we are, but I just can’t. There is no way for me to do 100 things at 100%. I may look like I’m getting away with it for a short time, but eventually, something is gonna give (and it’s usually not pretty when it does). I may need to give up trying to make a from-scratch dinner one night. I may need to humbly ask for a time-out from life occasionally. I may need to take my name off the signup committee for a few of the things I’ve volunteered for.

But nothing, I mean, nothing is more needed in the pursuit of the anti-crash than time with Jesus.

When I look back on all of my most infamous crashes, they all seem to have one thing in common: lack of time spent in prayer and God’s word. It’s hard, because being busy tends to keep us from being able to do all we want, maybe including spending the time with God that we’d ideally put in. But it’s that very scenario that sustains us in the rest of our busy lives, and it is a complete self-sabotage to cut out the main thing that can help us!

So what can we do to fix this crash problem?

  1. Take a deep breath. Whether we’re in a post-crash haze, on the verge of a crash, or coasting in a fine frenzy, we CAN avoid further crashes! Let’s start by stopping the burn out!
  2. Admit to one another that we’re not okay and we can’t do it all. It removes the stigma of shame that this world has tried to place on women. We are just as worthy and successful if we don’t accomplish every pin on our Pinterest boards than if we do! By becoming women who rest and stop before we crash, we’ll find we are more content, accomplished, and whole. It will make us better wives, mothers, and friends.
  3. Get before God today and ask Him to help us sort through our busy lives. He will not only help us to sift out the superfluous, but will speak life and refreshing over us that can carry us through our weeks with grace! Let’s stop the burn and avoid the crash!
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