If “control = happiness = holiness”, something doesn’t add up

My attention gets sucked into things very easily. One of my offices has a giant window that looks over a hill that can somehow make any season seem beautiful. I look out this window a lot. When I used to share the office, it wasn’t uncommon for me to need to interrupt a conversation and let my supervisor know that there was a groundhog and some birds fighting on the hill and my brain wouldn’t be available for intelligent conversation until the battle was finished.

groundhogcontrol.jpg

Currently, my attention has been pulled into the world of podcasting. I’ve been binge-listening to podcasts to the point where I need to turn my cellular data off so I don’t spend millions of dollars listening to other people talk at me. My focus has mainly been on podcasts that combine some of the following topics: Catholicism, Mommy-ing, wife-ing…well I guess that’s mainly it. Catholic, mommy podcasts (let’s call them CMPs…initialisms make me feel cool), it’s INSANE how addicting I’ve found them. There’s different topics with each episode and, even if they have ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with my current situation, I can’t stop.But, that’s not what I want to focus on.

I need to talk about what the CMP’s have brought out in my brain: the need for control. It’s crazy and there’s probably a CMP episode that talks about “letting go and letting God” (gag) or “who’s really in control?”

…unrelated, I wonder if there is a job in naming podcasts cause I’d be super good at that.

 

Anyway, through learning about family budgets and books I should read and how to properly self-care, I’ve realized that I equate my sense of control not only  with happiness (a pretty common trait) but also with holiness. Being in charge of my schedule means I’m totally on the road to sainthood, eating vegetables CONSISTENTLY has to be on par with doing works of mercy  and, all those faceless people who chime “Cleanliness is next to Godliness” understand that an ordered household is the only road to heaven, right?

Clearly, the answer is no, but my brain doesn’t always live “seeing things clearly” land.

Case in point, I’ve been trying to focus on my weight/eating differently to see if I could actually take care of my body for health rather than beauty (easier said than done…look for endless ways that I will both congratulate myself and fail miserably at this endeavor). And then tonight, I ate almost an entire bag of Cheetos simply because they were sitting in my office. What followed? Guilt. Resentment. Fear of being punished.

cheetos

Hold up now. Who’s going to punish me for eating delicious cheese food-type things? God. Not eating an entire bag of Cheetos in one sitting is probably the commandment Moses would have seen if he turned the tablet over.

Ridiculous? Absolutely. Felt in my heart regardless of the ridiculousness? You betcha. I lost control and screwed up and punishment is sure to follow. I’m losing my closeness to God with every bite, even if only in my mind.

It happens in non-cheese related ways as well. If I fall behind on laundry or forget to answer a voicemail, I feel “off the straight and narrow”. These things that have nothing to do with my relationship to God are really screwing up my faith.

And here’s the thing I need to remind myself, say it with me now:  I’m actually not in control at all. The most freeing and exciting and terrifying realization about my life is I’m not in control. I need to trust in my God, who loves me in spite of as well as because of all the calories in my fitness tracker. And my dirty house. And my cluttered office. And on and on and on. He’s got this and, more importantly, He’s got me.


Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.

Deuteronomy 31:6

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Thoughts on my Fitbit (oh, hey 2017!)

I had a Fitbit once upon a time in my other life (you know, pre-home ownership, pre-marriage, pre-baby). My former employer gave them out as a way to increase wellness and challenge the coworkers, which was fun. But all good things must be given back when you change jobs.

So, I recently treated myself to an on-sale newer, fancier type. You guys, this thing is so intense now! Working my way to goals and such, I’ve had lots of strangely deep reflective thoughts on my new fitness toy.

In brief:

  • The ‘bit (look at me, trying to be hip) vibrates when I need to move more. And, you know what, I actually listen! Weird. I wish this existed for other tasks: *Do laundry!* *Get gas!* *Sleep!* *Pray!*…and I wish I responded the same way.
  • This thing tells time. So I save money on all the watches I don’t buy. But, the most frustrating thing in the world (at the moment, I’m sure something new and frustrating-er will come across my radar soon) is that there is the TINIEST but definitely noticeable delay between the time I flick my wrist and when the digital display tells me the time. I’m making a mental note to remember to tease that out for a deep theological reflection at a later date.
  • It praises me when I do good things. Like drinking my goal amount of water or taking 250+ steps in an hour. I didn’t realize how much I needed that. In fact, this morning I just said out loud (ok, it was via text but it totally still counts) that I feel very needy for recognition these days…and then I proceeded to do a Litany of Humility while pacing my office (gotta get those steps in!) You know what feels even needier though, asking for that praise. Whether it be from coworkers, friends or my husband, that is not something you will willingly find me do in any direct way but that doesn’t mean I don’t need it. It just means I’m a coward when it comes to expressing that need. Especially from God. How selfish does it seem to ask God for His time or a sign that you are the biblical “good and faithful servant”? My answer would be “about as selfish as asking my 7 month old to stop crying until my Netflix binge is over” (oh, I can’t even joke about that…it hurts my heart!)

From the desire of being: esteemed/love/extolled/honored/praised/preferred to others/consulted/approved…

Deliver me, Jesus.

Clearly I have no answers to anything above, but that doesn’t mean the Fitbit will quit asking.

I’m surviving

That’s a lot of what it feels like lately. No thriving here. Day by day, moment by moment, I am getting through. A large portion of it is lack of sleep, for sure. Another part, though, I think is feeling disconnected from who I was and who I thought I would be. The cliched phrase is something along the lines of God laughing at our plans and, while I love keeping God jolly, I kind of wish He’d let me in on the joke every once and a while.

And, unfortunately but not unpredictably, right now the focus of my “I wishes” is revolving around my physical appearance. Still got the baby tummy, still got the stretch marks, still not the gorgeous, twig who can confidently do anything she wants and has a perfect heart of gold. And, like most bad feelings I find myself in, I don’t shake them away easily. I’m defining myself by the way others define me and/or how I look at any given moment. Not the precious child of God who has a unique place in this world. Thank goodness I have a baby girl, who is thankfully the spitting image of her daddy, to distract from the fact that I don’t love myself the way that I should because of some ill-conceived notions in my head. So, I’ll love her, and her daddy, the very best that I can and hope that along the way, I will learn to use some of that unconditional love on myself as well.

I matter

I’ve realized that I spend a lot of time convincing myself I’m not good enough…and I need to stop that.

It’s odd, because I always thought that I lacked confidence or self-esteem, but I’m realizing that may not be the case. My gut reaction is always to stand up for myself or fight to the death for my stance. But as time goes on, I talk myself down. I make myself believe that maybe I’m wrong, maybe I’m not thinking clearly, maybe I don’t understand. Similar thoughts include things like “of course they know better than I do” or “who I am to be able to _______”. I talk myself down a lot with the mistaken notion that I don’t matter as much as other people do. This can be a form of humility, or this can be a crippling form of self-doubt…mine is definitely the latter.

I’ve been doing this a lot at work lately. Second guessing and backing down, not letting myself count. It’s not working and I’m miserable. And I think that’s mainly because I don’t truly believe the lie I convince myself of. I matter…and I’m going to start acting that way.