I don’t admit that often. Or, if I’m honest, at all.
Being tired is not something I acknowledge or claim in my day-to-day life. I have an inner critic that tells me I have to keep moving, keep proving, keep earning something, although I couldn’t tell you exactly what. I need to keep checking things off the list, although it’s not a literal “to do” list anymore. I stopped keeping those years ago when I realized how disconnected I was from my life. Instead, it’s now a mental list of all the “good” things I need to be doing or rules for behavior I must uphold. From eating habits to exercise, housekeeping to responding to work emails, there’s always some “next right thing” I should be doing. This striving requires me to live within my own mind too much of the time.
The past several weeks have been hard. Insomnia triggered anxiety returned to my life in Paris and has been a fairly consistent companion ever since. I have had some good nights of rest, but dropping this struggle for control has been hard. My always active mind keeps searching for a fix, which I know is an illusion of control. When I let go, I cling to God and pray for help in surrendering to His grace, love and perfect will.
Recognizing how little control we have over our thoughts and feelings was a huge lesson for me. However, when I experience painful emotions and have negative thoughts, my mind still goes into fight or flight mode and I struggle to change my thoughts and feelings. I’m actually really good at repressing my emotions by reframing or focusing on thoughts and feelings that give me a sense of control.
But, I don’t want to continue to strive for control over my emotions. I want to trust God and allow myself to feel my emotions. I want to be able to say, “I’m tired” when I feel it, rather than repress that feeling from myself. I want to stop the incessant evaluation and judgments that I hold on to in an attempt make life feel predictable and safe. I want to surrender.
In The Relational Soul: Moving from False Self to Deep Connection, Richard Plass and James Cofield write: “True surrender is not resignation or a passive giving up on life. Surrender is a Spirit-empowered act of courage. It is the willingness to offer our lives to God and trust him with the outcome. It is giving our lives to God each day, recognizing our dependency on him. It is trusting God even when what we are living is dark and confusing and something we never thought we would have to live.”
Surrender and acceptance of painful emotions happens over and over again within the present moment. One of the strategies I often use to acknowledge when my thoughts have hooked me is simply to thank my mind. Tonight, while cooking dinner, I added something powerful after “Thanks Mind!” I silently thought, “I’ll just trust God.”
I let go of control and surrender, little by little, moment by moment, as I unhook from my unhelpful thoughts and focus on the grace of God through Jesus. Even when I’m anxious, sad, frustrated, confused, or yes, tired.