Keeping count of the number of friends and family who feel they are letting everyone around them down can no longer be done with my fingers. I’m not sure what has so many stuck in this season right now but it is a feeling I fight from time to time myself.
I’ve determined it is never quite as extreme as it seems but when the feeling hits, it is hard not to believe it is every bit as bad as it feels.
When I experience the “letting everyone down” moment, I am typically overwhelmed.
Because high expectations and countless requests are part of my everyday life, I count it a success that most days I can bounce between them all — whether successfully or not — with energy and a smile.
But some days are different. What changes when the routine becomes discouraging?
For me, I am more vulnerable and emotional when I’m overly committed, tired, not exercising and spending too little time in God’s Word.
But even then I don’t tend to move into the “letting everyone down” mode until I begin sensing disappointment from those closest to me that I’m not focused on them enough. It might mean I’m not physically present; it might mean I’m not in tune emotionally; it might mean I’m not doing enough to help out.
Can be crippling
I can’t speak for others nor have I done any research to truly understand where they are and what they are facing, but I know how they are feeling and understand the crippling nature of where it leads.
As for my journey, I’ve determined what I’m sensing in those moments is my own guilt and disappointment in myself. I truly want to be present for everyone in my life and I want to be caring and helpful at all points but sometimes there are more needs than I can handle alone.
It is always hard for me to not step up, jump in or assist. It’s equally as hard for me to admit I’m not always the best or right choice to help and, in some cases, that I’m already overcommitted and can’t add another item to the list.
Working through it
But what about the unexpected serious needs that arise, those things we absolutely know need our attention?
Those are the times we do what we have to do and figure it out in the mix of it all. And we continuously work to build margin in our lives so there’s wiggle room in our schedules to handle the unexpected without taking us down in the process.
Remembering to share the load is another good choice to make. It may mean one person gets more credit than another. It may mean some roles are more popular than others. But if we can humble ourselves to do what needs to be done and not worry about who gets to do what or who gets credit, then we can be a powerful force of assistance in taking care of the need at hand.
I expect a lot of myself and others. Others expect a lot of me. I’m thankful for that because I do believe high expectations keep us sharp, growing and doing our best.
At the same time, I’m still learning how to prioritize the expectations so those who should be receiving the best of me aren’t getting the leftovers.
I’m also working to give a gift to those in my life I sense are overwhelmed by being super selective about what I ask of them. I’ve decided not to be a person who is only focused on clearing my own to-do list each day.
Instead I want to find something I can do every day to make someone else’s load a little bit lighter (preferably something unexpected) while also being realistic with the load I’m choosing to carry. And with helping someone else comes a bonus blessing that chips away at any discouragement that might be looming — for in that moment I’m lifting others up rather than letting them down.
—Jennifer Davis Rash