Give It A Rest Already

As the year 2012 closed, so did another chapter of our lives. Many of us
made New Year’s resolutions. Now that we are in March, have they been
forgotten? Don’t feel too bad if you they have, most of us forget them
before January is gone. We set goals with every intention of accomplishing
them, but then sidetracked with everyday stuff, our goals get lost or we
leave projects halfway finished.

But you know, sometimes things work the other way. Our desire to finish a
project can backfire and become an obsession, taking over our lives. Here is
an example.

Years ago, when my kids were small, our family went through the nightmare of
home remodeling. We bought a two bedroom house in a very nice neighborhood,
planning to make radical changes. We turned our unfinished basement into a
family room and three bedrooms for the kids. This meant adding walls, larger
windows and carpet. Upstairs we all but demolished the tiny kitchen. We
moved it into a bedroom.

“Mom, where are the cereal bowls?”

“Behind the couch. The boxes of cereal are on the other corner near the bird
cage.”

“I found them, but I can’t find the spoons!”

“They are in the TV cabinet, in the clear box, by The Little House on the
Prairie videos.” Things were indeed crazy. But it didn’t end there. We
enlarged our only bathroom by rearranging the bathtub, toilet and sink.
Enclosing a breezeway gave us a laundry room, mud room and pantry. All this
happened in less than a year as we needed to make the most out of our
limited time with the contractors.

Staying within our tight budget meant that the contractors hired to do all
the professional work were moonlighting, greatly complicating our evenings. The
process moved slowly. It was up to me to do most of the finishing touches
such as minor drywall taping and priming, minor electrical work, painting,
wallpapering and trim work. I’d take advantage of every second the kids were
in school. One day I was so busy, I didn’t realize I worked for six hours and
not so much as stopped for a short break. I’d do all the quiet stuff like painting
and wallpapering at night while everyone slept, often staying up past two
in the morning. By the time the kids got home from school, I was exhausted.

One day I had to push Romex cable, a thick, stiff electrical wire, into a
corner of the attic from inside the house, while someone in the attic tried
to reach it. “Push! Push harder!” He yelled. “I can’t reach it.  It’s
blocked near the eve!”

“I am pushing as hard as I can!” I’d yell, trying to force it past the
blockage.

“The wire is kinking. Push even harder!” After about 15 minutes of strenuous
pushing, the cable finally went through. My shoulder badly ached, but that
didn’t slow me down. I continued painting, wall papering, sawing and
hammering. After two months of working in pain, I became quite skilled at
alternating between my right and left hand. The pain increased to the point
I could barely lift my hairbrush to my head.

“It’s bursitis,” the doctor said. “Make sure you rest your shoulder.” He
gave me a very painful shot of cortisone directly into the swollen area. I
rested a little while then, Voila! I felt as good as new.

One night while rushing to the basement with an arm load of work supplies, I
missed one step, fell down the stairs and sprained both ankles. That very
night, my then-husband had a family emergency that took him out of town for
two weeks. Two days later my second grade son, came down with chickenpox.
Shortly after, both my daughters came down with it. I hobbled through
oatmeal baths, scratching frenzies, calamine lotion rubs on tummies, backs,
arms and legs. I never had chicken pox. I lived in fear of an outbreak after
reading of high-fever-to-possible-death horror stories of adult onset
chickenpox.

“Mom, my face really hurts.” My youngest daughter woke me from a deep sleep
with a severely swollen cheek in the middle of the night. The chickenpox had
settled in her lymph gland near her ear. I drove to the emergency room that
stormy night, thankful I didn’t drive a stick shift. When I painfully hobbled
into the emergency room, one of the hospital attendants thought I was the
patient and grabbed a wheel chair.

I crawled around on all fours throughout the house and rarely left home. We ate a lot of cereal, sandwiches and canned soups. I continued to
work on any wallpaper and painted areas I could reach sitting down. Sick of the
constant chaos, I became obsessed with finishing as many projects as
possible.

In retrospect, I see God wanted me to slow down. I should have taken the hint. I should have taken the time to “enjoy” the predicament the sprained ankles and chicken pox put me in. I should have lazed around with my kids, watched old classics, used
every crayon, marker and coloring book around, and had great times
with them. The walls would have eventually gotten finished.

Someone else lives in that house now. Years later, I finally get the message. It screams loudly at me now with its silence. Sit. Relax. Rest. Slow Down. Be Still.

I manage to stay very busy now in my childless, quiet home. My daughters are grown and gone  far away. Due to a tragic motorcycle accident, my son now lives in Heaven.
I miss those earlier years with them. Years I can never replace. I would
give almost everything to go back to those days with my kids. I would laugh
and have fun with them. I’d slow down and relax, something I could never
easily do. The painting and other projects would have to take the back
burner while I’d love my kids.

What’s my advice for 2013? Give it a rest! “No way! I’m just too busy,”
you say. “I have way too much to do.” “If I don’t do it, it won’t get done.”
That’s precisely what I told myself back then. Think about what is really
going to matter in ten years.

Psalms 46:10 Be still and know that I am God.

By ~ Elizabeth Yalian  ©2013

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