Life holds so many lessons for a life-long learner. When my Circle of Support met this past week we discussed how I still am needing to draw better boundaries. I do not know if I will master this prior to dying but I am trying to at least to improve and land in a place where I feel more comfortable than I have in the past. In thinking about this I thought I would list some of the struggle points for me and then my friends and family could help me with them or understand what is going on for me. Here we go!
- Somehow I need to understand that my needs are important–as important as yours, and perhaps even more so right now. This means I do not have the energy that I used to for reaching out and for always taking the time for things that I used to in the past. I depend on you to find me either online through one of the three venues I have that will help you help me or by dropping an email to ask what I may need. I cannot keep up the way I used to but I do try to read everything even if I do not respond. I love phone calls, especially from my faraway friends who cannot see me. However, as my mom said today she is never sure when to call because she does not want to wake me. It is a great balancing act.
- I do reach out through social media to ask for specific needs. If you read these, you will see exactly how to best pray or when I need tangible assistance such as a ride. Learning to receive is a huge learning curve for me. I am not always comfortable with letting everyone in to all parts of my life. Try to imagine someone doing your unmentionables in the laundry and you might understand how I feel. As long as I am able, I would still like to do tasks that I can. I am frustrated by people who want to take over, without my permission, certain things. Helpful questions for me are May I do this for you? or How can I help you get that done? or simply Do you need help? The assumptions otherwise are sometimes hurtful or annoying and yet I know that is not the intent of the person taking over the situation.
- Let people own their own emotions. I have long said this but I find it harder to let go of because of my own compassion and experience. I know grief well. I have walked with people in and through it. I have faced head-on my own roller coaster of emotions as well as facilitated workshops on grief which is why I have a sense of healthy and unhealthy grief patterns. You cannot avoid it and I do not want you to. When I was in the hospital, a friend of mine who had briefly stopped in, stood up to leave, and without looking at me, said, This sucks. I checked in as to the meaning because while I was pretty sure she was talking about more than my concussion and broken ankle, I did not want to assume. This cracked open a good conversation between us. Honestly, I find the hard conversations the most rewarding. They are so much better than ignoring the elephant in the room.
- I know I have also said this before. I am so much more than this rare cancer and I do not always want to talk about it. I know it seems like I have just contradicted myself here but I have not. Some days, I just prefer a distraction. Tell me the story of the young girl calling President Trump out since the Florida School shooting if I have not heard about it. Tell me what made you smile today. Share your own painful life event with me. Text me to say the sun is shining today and it is glorious. Email me your favourite Scripture verse –there are so many stunning ones during Lent.
- My wise circle friends’ advice was that I need to focus on me and what brings me joy, peace and freedom. My needs are changing and I need to use my time prudently. This means hurting people who want to see me but who I can no longer expend energy seeing people who are more on the periphery of my life. I am trying to create memories with my closer friends–many of you know who you are because I am in touch with ideas for outings or visits. At this point in my life, living well means closing doors and tightening boundaries. I cannot tell you how excruciatingly painful that is for me. I also cannot emphasize how crucial it is for my health and sanity. Life revolves around a daily phone call to my mom, perhaps one visit five out of seven days a week, medical appointments, focusing on the work that needs to be done before I die, and participating in something life-giving whenever possible. My world is shrinking and it needs to.
Those are some of the thoughts buzzing through my brain lately. I also think I need to give over the wheel to Jesus more and more. With his grace, I will find peace within my heart to do what is best for me. I know not everyone will understand but I believe that those who love me will.
How do you draw your boundaries?
What lesson do you need to learn to have a more life-giving focus?
I am a temple of the Lord and need to learn to protect the entrance. Sometimes this means turning away people I would normally have let in. Have mercy on me, Lord, as I continue to live and make my world more manageable. Grant me peace, joy and freedom. Amen.