Being enough and anxiety

When you don’t register at a mind and heart level that you are enough, you keep giving to the point of depletion, which state only confirms how limited you are and that in fact you are not enough. But God’s spirit in us is enough.

Humility protects us from trying to be more and do more than God intended for us to do.

I have many fellow leaders who are experiencing burnout, much like I did when I joined momco. Half of me was pulling back, aware that there was no more wiggle room on my plate. Finding my rhythm and my place among women, mothers who do so much so well, I often felt like I need to catch up, to match their drive, their energy. I am middle of the road introvert and I don’t always get energized by people. I need my space, solitude and quiet time to replenish.

There is a serious danger of losing good leaders because we assume they have the same resources and energy as they had a season ago. We are allowed to feel tired and to need help. But I dread the thought of friends leaving the ministry with the feeling that what they did was never enough, and thus would be reluctant to come back, or enter another project of service.
I was that person not long ago.

I had given a lot wholeheartedly but at done point, as my gaze shifted, and I needed to recharge or replenish, I worried about the bitter taste in my mouth left when o stepped away.

We do get our validation from God, and we serve from the abundance He has given us, but what shall we do with our grownup boundaries that are pushed, challenged.

In our exhaustion we hunger for community and we go about filling our connection cup by serving more.

I have felt inadequate about the lack of certain gifts. I’m not crafty, and I have a hard time staying up late. I don’t want to disappoint my friends. I think what I want to hear, when I can’t join a project, is a word of gratitude for what I have already done. But even when people offer that validation, if I am not in tune with my Father, the one who called me to do the with, I will live in uncertainty and depletion.

I have always liked flying under the radar, and people having low expectations of me. The responsibility to be on call, flexible, communicative, and often I don’t have anything to say because I dread taking up air space with platitudes, it all increased my anxiety and left me feeling lonely.

I have thought about taking the courage to share my heart. I bet it would have been well received, but I didn’t have the words. Until recently, when a friend confided in me that she feels harassed by everyone (family, friend, church) needing something from her. We need to normalize Sabbath for leader moms. Not just tolerate the ones who have the courage to step aside for a season, but to incorporate in our culture, no matter the country we live in.

Good Leaders are people too, with fears, and limitations, and a need to rest their heads and be encouraged.

I believe that if our leaders will feel seen, encouraged, appreciated, validated, we will all be better for it. We provide a context for moms to connect, to share their hearts, to grow and to have fun too. But we all know as moms how we can be the life of the party, making sure everyone is fed, hugged, seen, loved, and when the family is all asleep we taste a bitter taste of depletion and loneliness. Acknowledgement is not an item on a checklist. I don’t care so much for excesive words of praise. I often feel loved when I’m given the space to rest. And I see someone pick up my slack.

This Sunday morning I woke up unusually early for a weekend, after longing to sleep in all week. It’s 5 AM. My mind goes back to these thoughts I’ve been wrestling with about being enough. And I remembered something I had tucked away in my mind a long time ago. I had joined MomCo with the specific invitation to help translate some documents and then some subtitles. I gladly put in the hours as the content was always rich and worthy to wrestle with. But when the big events were being organized, and my fellow moms would call out for volunteers to help set up, help prepare the gifts, go shopping, I pushed myself a few times to join in. Often these serving activities took place late into the night. They were exhausting and fun and they built a sense of belonging. But I was in a season of burnout, of emotional exhaustion, and as an introvert socializing at length was the last thing I wanted to do. But I didn’t have the words and clarity to say all these. As volunteers at MomCo, knowing our gifts, having our gifts recognized by our co-leaders, helps us feel enough when we do what we are passionate about and good at. While I believe in getting out of my comfort zone and try new things, new skills, new areas of service, during a season of burnout, doing less, doing what you are good at, it is wise and necessary.

As a leader, I used to feel the weight of too many distractions, too many people wanting my help or attention. I have built some resilience with the many messages I get, but I still long for a better balance. I’m a volunteer in training and the amount of zoom calls I feel I ought to attend is a lot. Maybe my heightened sense of responsibility traps me with guilt, but the only way I could still enjoy the volunteering is say no to some things or ignore others. Ruthlessly cross things off that are not urgent.

We are learning a good lesson to not compare ourselves spiritually, not compare our MomCo groups, not compare our churches. The trap of comparison is not just for worldly things but in the spiritual world, even with the best intentions and values, we may feel tempted to compare.