Beautiful Between

living fully in the now & not yet

When life is crazy and you just can’t keep up, do this

I was running errands on my lunch break, trying to squeeze a few items from the to-do list into my too-busy life, when I got the call.

“Can I call you back, love?” I didn’t want to keep the bank teller waiting, but it wasn’t like my husband to call mid-day.

“No, babe, no. I don’t think you can…” His voice trailed off into a slow breath. “My dad’s on his way to the hospital. They think he’s having a stroke.”

I turned away from the teller and took my own slow breath, fighting the sudden squeeze in the walls of my chest. My throat constricted and I tried to swallow down my racing heart so I could ask the questions, get what little information he had. We can’t lose him. We’re not ready. But how can you ever be ready for that?

When life is crazy…

We’d been married no more than three weeks and had hit the ground running. Our mini-honeymoon gave way to busyness. Wedding season is in full-swing for my photographer husband; he works weekends while I work days. We traveled cross-country to shoot my youngest brother’s wedding a week after our own.

I caught a stomach virus right after coming home. There was a car accident a few days later, sending me back to physical therapy. We were trying to move my stuff out of my old apartment, arrange our new lives, learn our rhythms.

Then the strokes happened. Suddenly, everything else was secondary.

We spent days and nights at the hospital, ran errands, talked late about how we can help physically and financially. We cooked and had family meetings about how to navigate this, found wheelchairs and walkers. We all feel woefully inept, inadequate in the face of something so life-altering for the family.

Nothing seems to matter quite as much when loved ones are hurting or have a brush with mortality. But plates need to keep spinning, and I still lean hard towards perfection. Perhaps you relate? Perhaps you also hold yourself to painfully high standards, constantly aware of how much there is to do.

Right now, I’m a new wife, an employee, a writer, a friend, a follower of Christ. And I want to be perfect in all those areas. But it’s impossible with so much going on. I can’t keep up with my own standard of excellence, so I felt like a failure.

Give yourself grace

Recently, I was talking with Jeff Goins about writing and my season. I said I just needed to try harder, work more, and maybe I could do it. Maybe I could manage it all, I thought. I just couldn’t let myself off the hook.

Jeff’s words were a breath of fresh air. “Give yourself grace, but hold yourself to some standard.”

In other words, be human. Adjust. Life is crazy right now, you can’t keep up, so focus on what matters most.

Sometimes life grabs us, takes hold and shakes us hard, but we expect the same perfection of ourselves. But our heads are spinning and we are desperately trying to just hang on.

In those moments, we must learn to give ourselves grace. We must understand we won’t make perfect choices every moment, but some forward motion is enough. I’m learning this practice slowly.

When I’m exhausted and struggling to get up on time, I may not spend mornings in deep Bible study and journaling. But my husband and I do pray together every day. I listen to my Bible app audio, a devotional, or worship music on my commute to make sure I’m still investing in my relationship with God.

When I’m not getting consistent workouts or eating super healthy, it’s okay for a season. But I am doing my physical therapy exercises and sneaking in evening walks when we have the time. I still need to care for my body to ensure I can care for those around me.

And I may not be able to write every day and pour out my heart how I want to. But it is life-giving and important to me to share with you, to walk together. So I’m finding little slices of time to connect with you, usually while my husband is shooting weddings on the weekend.

Focus on what matters

Dear friend, hear me loud and clear: when life is shaking you hard and you don’t know when you’re going to come down, it is okay and right to give yourself grace. If you’re a perfectionist life me, learn to let yourself off the hook. Let go of the guilt and shame.

It is completely acceptable for the laundry to go unfolded so you can spend a few precious moments looking into the eyes of your friends and family. It is okay if you have to rely on eating out a bit more. Do your best with what you have right now, but that doesn’t mean you need spend hours and hours getting that project pinterest-perfect.

Maybe you’re dealing with family health issues that carve a hole in the pit of your stomach, a relationship issue or even your own health. Maybe you’re swamped, unbearably busy at work, or dealing with intense financial stress. In this crazy season, hold yourself to a gracious standard of love. Let the little things go.

Whatever it is, focus on what matters, what is non-negotiable. That’s your standard. That’s your baseline. Let everything else be drenched in grace. Give yourself a break.

We’ll practice together.

About Sarah

Hi, I'm Sarah. I love coffee, pancakes and street tacos. I'm a learner, a traveler and a creative mess. I've got a thing for redemption and seeing broken people living beautiful lives. That's the story I've lived, and the one I want for you. Let's be friends!

3 Replies

  1. Dad

    You could not have said this better, daughter. As you know Mom and I know a little about this, too…and can say to your readers that this post reveals hard won wisdom. Love and Grace to you and your new family, Sarah. We pray for you all, always.

  2. Grace. That’s a really nice word. 🙂 An even better practice. Thankful for you, dear friend. Beautiful words, as always.

  3. Carol Horton

    Beautiful words, Sarah, and very comforting.

    I have learned over the years that “my best” can be different on different days. So instead of shooting for perfect, I can be ok with just doing my best, whatever that looks like today.

    I rest in the fact that my Father loves me on my best days and on my worst and that any amount of love sent out into the world is never wasted.

    Thanks for sharing the gift of you with the rest of us!

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