I recently woke up thinking about a table.
My first thought was actually “Am I late?” (as it always is because the answer to that question is so often yes) but, after realizing it was 3:07 in the morning, I quickly returned to the table.
I then calculated that I had three more hours to sleep.
Or to worry.
Or to make lists.
Or to work.
Or to write.
Or to worry about my lists and work and writing….
My brain was leaning heavily towards the worry option (which made sense seeing as it was the returning champion).
I tried to lead it down another path. I thought about beaches. I counted backwards. I breathed deeply.
I got so desperate that I even pulled out an article I had crammed into my nightside table with some yoga poses that were supposed to help you sleep.
Scratch that– even insomnia couldn’t get me exercising.
Worry was going to carry the day.
Followed by a dash of panic of course.
With a healthy serving of self-loathing thrown in as I surveyed my room and saw my overflowing work bag sitting untouched next to my bedside.
But I digress. A lot.
Back to the table.
I woke up thinking about a business luncheon I was planning and about how the food would not fit on the table in the room where the event was being held.
Should I get another room? Borrow a table? Change the food?
Taxes are due soon. I haven’t even started them.
Did I pay my power bill?
How overdue am I on my blog?
What if I never get published?
If I go to sleep RIGHT NOW, I am only going to get two hours of sleep.
I’m going to be so tired.
I shouldn’t have eaten those cookies. I feel disgusting.
I can’t believe I haven’t gotten my mirrors hung yet.
I am going to be 40 soon.
I am probably out of time to have kids.
What if I never publish anything AND never have kids?
AND never get married?
AND never get out of debt?
Before I knew it, the alarm was going off and I started my day feeling like an exhausted, old, disorganized spinster.
And it all started with a stupid table.
The whole exercise reminds me of Alice falling down the rabbit hole. It starts slowly and then the next thing I know everything is spinning out of control and nothing is at it seems. Big things seem small- small things big.
I shared these feelings with some friends. More than anything, I wanted them to tell me what I was doing wrong. I wanted them to tell me how to be more focused. More productive. More successful. More confident. Less stressed. Less frazzled.
I want an empty work bag. A perfect body (or at least one that doesn’t want cookies so much). A clean condo. A completely crossed off things to do list. Pantyhose with no runs.
I want to wake up at 3:07 a.m. with nothing to torture myself with for hours on end.
I want to be… better… at… life.
Everyone I spoke to had something different to say- some copping to the fact that they too feel inadequate sometimes while others chose to maintain their “Facebook lives” and more or less stayed silent as I spilled my guts.
But, there was one phrase that each and every one of them used.
And it stood out to me not only because of how often it was repeated but also because of how different the people were that said it.
“You know, you are only human.”
The first few times they said it, I brushed it off. Such an empty cliché.
But the more I heard it, the harder it was to ignore.
After several times, I realized that maybe God was telling me something. And telling me again. And telling me again. (Thank goodness He’s patient.)
Truth? I think I tried to disregard it because it bothered me.
And by “it,” I really mean that lovely word “only.”
We are only friends.
You are only cute (not pretty).
You are only a runner up, understudy, cast member.
In other words, you are only… average.
Perhaps the fact I saw it as an insult is indicative of the whole problem.
I tried saying that dreaded phrase whenever I started berating myself over an undone errand, a typo in a letter, a still to be mailed card sitting on my kitchen counter, etc.
“I am only human.”
But, it just didn’t sound right. So, I changed it a little.
“I am only human- but I am still amazing.”
The true importance of accepting my “humanness” was driven home when I told one particular friend about my “Alice in Wonderland” spirals and her immediate response was “You need a God’s box.”
She told me that whenever I found myself worrying about something, I needed to stop and write it down on a piece of paper. Then, I take that piece of paper and place it in the designated box.
In other words, you literally- and figuratively- turn your worries over to God.
It sounded a little… Hallmark-ish… to me.
Nevertheless, after several more sleepless nights and panicked days, I decided to give it a try.
I am so glad I did.
My God’s box has became like a magnifying glass pointed at my life.
I have realized that many of the things- most of the things- I worry about turn out to be nothing. In fact, when I went back and re-read a sampling of the slips of paper in the box a few weeks after writing them, I could not even remember what some of them meant. Seriously.
I realized that as I loosened the death grip with which I clung to my worries, I actually began to feel better about myself.
I realized that as I was a little kinder to myself, I was able to be a little kinder and more forgiving of the people around me.
I realized that I could be much more productive and confident when I was not weighed down by things that I could not control.
Most importantly, I realized that God does a much better job of dealing with my worries than I do.
So now, when I wake up at 3 a.m., I turn on the light and get out a pen and I write all the thoughts down- post it note after post it note (after post it note). When I finish, I put them in the box, and I shut it. Tightly.
And then I tell God that I am giving it all to him because I am only human.
Only human- but still amazing….