Burn Out

I think I have finally reached the point of total and complete burnout as far as my job is concerned. After months of struggling with a sense of purpose in what I’m doing and some frustration with the monotony of it, I’ve finally reached a point where even the weekends aren’t enough recuperation and nothing seems to encourage me. While I genuinely do love the kids I am with, I am tired all of the time and I am bored out of my mind. I am completely out of patience and feel that I cannot answer one more question. Except for naptime in the afternoon, I spend 7-8 hours a day entertaining and verbally responding to a preschooler and a toddler and half of that is correcting, cajoling, convincing, rebuking, or coming up with creative and interesting things for them to do. I’m worn out. I’m committed to this job until the end of May. Intellectually, I know that’s not forever. But right now, it feels like forever. And every morning when my alarm goes off everything in me screams, “NO!”

Jonathan and I continue to wait for good news from the schools he’s applied to, but so far there hasn’t been any. We’ve begun to discuss where we’ll go and what we’ll do if school isn’t on the table for next year. It’s somewhat exciting to think about moving somewhere new based on nothing more than an interest in the location, but it can also be overwhelming and frightening. Mostly though I am frustrated and feel defeated. I am so tremendously proud of my husband for applying to these programs that are highly selective and are evaluating your creative work which is often so deeply personal. I think he is so brave for pursuing something like this and it took a lot for him to even allow himself to pursue it simply because he felt it was impractical. I am frustrated with God because I don’t understand why he would have given him this dream and given him the courage to pursue it if it isn’t even going to work out.  And I feel completely at a loss as to how to encourage him in the midst of this. I don’t know how to make him believe that whatever the outcome, he is tremendously talented and gifted and that I respect and admire what he’s done so much. Just saying the words doesn’t seem to be enough.

I also had a tremendously selfish conversation with my husband in the midst of all of this where I whined about not being seen as a writer or taken seriously for my writing. It was juvenile and pathetic and the truth remains that I have not produced anything new creatively in almost a year. This is my own fault. No one sees me as a writer because, well, I don’t write.

So friends, this isn’t a witty, endearing, or uplifting blog post, but it is an honest post. I feel like I am failing. I am failing as a nanny. I am failing at being an encouraging, supportive wife. I am failing as a writer. I feel empty. Like I have nothing left to give. But this one promise keeps echoing through my mind. A voice that says, “My grace is sufficient for you. My strength is made perfect in your weakness.”

I look marvelous!

This week is an exciting/nervewracking one for us. My husband has applied to 9 grad schools in the hopes of doing an MFA in creative writing beginning Fall 2011. After months and months of research and work, we are finally entering the season where we start to hear back from the schools he applied to. If he gets accepted at Ohio State, we expect to hear sometimes this week/weekend. From there we will hear from the other 8 schools gradually over the next 6-8 weeks. It’s exciting to finally be at this point, but my stomach (and I’m sure his even more so) has just been in knots as we get closer and closer to knowing. I think the thing that makes this so nervewracking (as I am sure anyone who has gone through any kind of application process can testify) is that we have absolutely no control over the outcome, despite my husband having put a tremendous amount of time and energy into it.

This is the point at which I will tell people/myself that I have to just trust God and know that His will will be done, but more and more lately I really wonder what it means or what it would look like to trust God and His will. In a sense I feel like it’s easy to say that you are trusting God because whatever is going to happen is going to happen and then you can just try to content yourself by saying that whatever the result was, it must have been God’s will. But what would it be like to really rest in the knowledge that God is in control of the situation instead of just using “God’s will” as a way to comfort ourselves if things don’t go as we imagined they would?

At the core of this I see the real issue being a matter of contentment in and with whatever situation we are in. This is something I admittedly lack much of the time. I find it very difficult to stop myself from constantly looking forward to the next big thing. In high school I couldn’t wait to go to college. In college I couldn’t wait to graduate and get married and not be in classes anymore. Now I can’t wait to move from this cold, cold place and find a “real” job instead of nannying. At each phase there is always something else to be looking towards. I recognize that this is a never-ending cycle and that there will never really be a point at which I’ve arrived, and yet I have not yet learned to be present in the moments that I am given every day. To be present in the job I am doing, or in the activities I’m involved in, or in my conversations with those around me. I am constantly distracted by what I would like to do later…in a new season of life, next week, or even just later that day. Yet, God sends me reminders every day of the blessings I’ve been given and the need to be fully present and content with where I am and what I am doing. Perhaps contentment with the present is as much a sign of faith as any other.

For Christmas Sami receive a pack of chapsticks that are all different soda flavors/colors. She has root beer, vanilla coke, cherry soda, grape soda, and orange soda and she insists on layering them all one over the other when she wears them. She also never seems to get the chapstick onto her lips, instead spreading it artfully in a large sticky circle all around her mouth. Yesterday morning she bounded downstairs smelling strongly of artificial grape and cherry flavor with a sticky rainbow ring around her mouth. She grinned up at me, “I put on some chapstick,” she said. “I see that,” I told her. “I look marvelous!” she stated. She didn’t even need me to affirm this.

How simple. To take such delight in putting on chaptstick and to accept wholeheartedly that doing so made her look marvelous. I too want to remember what it is like to delight in such small things and to feel that something as insignificant as putting on my chapstick has meaning and worth. I too want to look marvelous.