Due to my training as a psychologist, I can’t help but do my own diagnostic psychological evaluation in my head when I see a person whose life is in personal upheaval. I try to “leave my therapist hat at the door” but it is inextricably a part of me. (Much to my husband’s chagrin.) Lately I feel the need to do one of those evaluations on myself. I have been suffering from what we psycho-babble linguists like to call “delusions of grandeur.” I have used this diagnostic characteristic in psychological batteries for case studies, clients… I’ll stop there to not get myself in trouble with any of my friends and family. If you google this term you will find many descriptions, but my favorite (and one that most describes my problem) is “fantastical beliefs of one’s own supernatural powers.” (See my red superhero cape?)
If you walk in my door you will see a neat checklist entitled “To Do Before Duke.” On it are 15 or so (not so small) items I deemed last Monday were necessary to accomplish in the upcoming weeks before I go in for my next blood patch and am relegated to weeks of bed-rest. My list disregards the fact that I can’t be upright for more than an hour at a time without severe motion sickness, pain, and fatigue – hence the aforementioned trip to Duke Hospital’s Chronic CSF Leaks team who will once again attempt to plug my saggy, leaky brain. Each task looks simple enough, but requires many steps, lots of energy, and a person who can keep her head vertical.
Last week was also the first week of school for my boys. In my delusional state I prepared an AM and PM routine list to perform each day. Iron and lay out clothes and pack lunches the night before. Get showered and dressed before the boys each morning. Switch the laundry and load and unload the dishwasher each morning and night. Be calm. Prepared. Unhurried. I intended to institute the no television before school rule. Breakfast at the kitchen table as a family. And so on. Seems manageable, right? Well, as life tends to do – our week trended towards chaos. It started calm and orderly and ended with tears and tantrums (and that was just me!). Monday I had excited, clean-cut, neatly dressed boys and by Friday I had bed-head, wrinkled clothed boys who were sobbing over torn special leafs and unfinished cereal bowls. I pretended my life was predictable and that there were no bad pain days, sleepless nights, or normal fatigue of a new routine. In reality, I couldn’t move most mornings without my medications working their magic. I was too exhausted and nauseas to wash my face at night, let alone do chores. My kids were kids – emotional ups and downs and all. And, I’m afraid it may have been at least three days since I have washed my hair.
My impressive checklist next to the door? After the first week, not one item was checked off. But, perfection is my enemy. My delusional goals have tried to mock me; but, hey, I got the kids to school every day. Everyone was fed mostly nutritious meals. No one went around naked. And you could still walk around my house without tripping every two feet. We made it to all appointments. And I never puked on anyone. I’ve decided to declare last week a winner and be a little nicer to myself this week. God has no use for my delusional or perfectionistic self. That woman is downright unpleasant. Cranky. Self-centered. Mean. To herself and then it spills out onto others.
Yesterday, as I lay in bed, I cried out to God “I give up! I can’t do it. Lord, I trust You know what is on my plate and will give me the ability to get the important things done. You write my list. You set my priorities.” Funny thing is that in the past 24 hours I’ve gotten more done, served others, loved and laughed and coped with my pain effectively. Hmmm…wonder what would have happened had I consulted with God BEFORE I made that list? The tasks may not have changed, but my superwoman alter-ego would have stayed in the phone booth.
Be nice to yourself. I am ordering you to fail a little, drop some balls, take a nap, leave your list undone, and breathe… I give you permission. God only asks us to look to Him and do the next right thing. And that right thing may be to let go of that cruel list you’ve made yourself and surrender to His.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. ~Proverbs 16:9, NLT