Relief, Rest, and Release from Unrealistic Expectations

Over the past month, several wake-up calls have underscored my finite capacity and helpless inability to whip out the “invisible Wonder Woman cape and boots” from the back of the closet at a second’s notice. Not that I didn’t realize I had limitations (gee, am I aware of my personal limitations!)…but in my trying not to focus on them, I kinda blurred the lines between fantasy and reality. I didn’t notice that I’d been slowly but steadily creeping back to attempting to save the world in my own strength – again. But my sheer exhaustion and utter fatigue should’ve tipped me off.

Case in point: Last Thursday, I learned about an extra-curricular activity (regional academic team competition) my children had earned the opportunity to participate in…outside of the city…on this Saturday. (Anyone who knows me is aware that I LIVE by my meticulously updated family calendar). Now a *normal* person who *already* had several commitments on that same day would have no problem identifying that they couldn’t squeeze one more ounce into an already full container. But not me! I didn’t go into flat-out panic mode. Yet, I DID start brainstorming options for how to “make it happen” – for my children, the team, the coach, the school whose reputation would be enhanced by a team win…world peace – yeah, my foolishness was just that lofty and unrealistic. Unfortunately, this entailed either (or all of the following):

  1. Asking my wonderful hubby to forgo his work assignments to get at least one child to another city by 9am…because I was already committed to an activity that starts at 10am in Charlotte.
  2. Putting my child in a car for a 1-hour drive with a parent I’d only met once who was going to the same event.
  3. Assuming that there would be no traffic or accidents on I-85 while attempting to get the second child back for afternoon orchestra rehearsal (for a concert in 2 weeks)…by 1:30pm.
  4. Ignoring the fact that I’m scheduled to be in choir rehearsal Saturday at 1pm, so I probably wouldn’t be of any real assistance in these transportation gyrations.

If you think there were gaping holes in my logic, you’re right…I was just trying to cobble together potential solutions, regardless of the feasibility, practicality, or achievability of my improbable pseudo-goals.

None of these options would fly with my husband (especially the second one: “What do you know about their driving habits, what they’re carrying in their vehicle, who else will be with them?” etc., etc.). I knew before I asked him that I had no satisfactory answers. Yet, I asked anyway, in a feeble attempt to salvage the mirage of “being able to get it all in and assuage all parties involved.” And for what? You already know that he firmly vetoed every option I unconvincingly presented.

The children’s egos wouldn’t have been crushed by not participating; they were cool with it and knew there were prior commitments on our schedule. Yet, I still had that nagging feeling in the back of my mind that I didn’t want to have to tell one or more parties, “I’m sorry, but we’re unable to participate in this activity at this time.”

Relief (from self-imposed anxiety because I anticipated potentially disappointing someone else) came only with the cheery e-mail response that the teacher completely understood that I was unable to 1) clone myself, or 2) be in two cities (one hour apart) at the same time. In the meanwhile, I had worked myself up into a froth – in vain. There was absolutely NO GODLY FRUIT to show for this flurry of mental histrionics and “what ifs.” How absurd was that on my part?

So what’s my point? Let’s free ourselves this year from the “what will people say?” mindset. Commit to “stop doing crazy.” Fight that random, bizarre pop-up thought that may be residue from PPD (People-Pleasing Disorder) or CHD (Chronic Helping Disorder) that still lingers, no matter how hard you’ve scrubbed. 🙂 As long as we’re doing our best to walk in excellence according to God’s Word – which includes taking care of ourselves and our families (and not minimizing or excluding this as a priority) – we can breathe a sigh of relief, rest in the Lord, and release ourselves from unrealistic expectations (whether real or, most likely, perceived). Then we can be about our Father’s business…

“28 Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.
30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
(Matthew 11:28-30)

© Copyright 2017 by Kayren J. Cathcart

XS: When is “Just Enough to Satisfy” Really Too Much?

excess – extra, additional, surplus, spare, superfluous, glut, overload, overflow, overindulgence, immoderation, extravagance
abscess – boil, sore, swelling, eruption, blister

So the title of this post is a play on words (XS makes me think of an “extra small” sized t-shirt that I haven’t fit into since high school – okay, middle school LOL), but I figured it needed explaining. While watching “Love it or List It” on HGTV last night, I was awestruck by one of the homes a family was looking at “upgrading” to. It wasn’t that the house was so grand – I was more amazed that they’d leave the ample space they already had for something that was obviously more space than they needed. The walk-in closet alone (that was deemed a “must have” for the father/husband of the family) was the size of a bedroom…and there was one for the wife, too…and it went on from there. Believe me, I love a well-appointed set of bathrooms under one roof as much as the next gal, but this was a bit over the top even by my standards.

Perhaps I’m more attentive to excess in light of presently dealing with an abscess (under my armpit, no less). I’ll spare you the “armpit selfie” I had my daughter take for me (encouraging her inner Doc McStuffins meets medical photographer – yes, blatant career planning and exploration is around every bend in our household, even with mom’s unfortunate mishaps). The good news is, after last Thursday’s doctor appointment when I couldn’t take the pain and tenderness of that ballooning bump any longer and they scheduled me for a surgical procedure to drain it (2 weeks out was the soonest they could get me in), the bump burst on its own and started draining on Monday morning, to my surprise. As unpleasant as it is to see (and feel) that fluid draining under my arm, it’s a great relief to get the pressure and swelling down, along with deflating the sizeable bump that looked like the Hunchback of Notre Dame had taken a detour under my arm. And it’s an answer to prayer, because I really wasn’t looking forward to a small surgical procedure, even if they promised to numb me and send me on my way as good as new in 30 minutes. Yes, I’m making light of it, but it made me realize that there was something extra inside of me that didn’t need to be there – and my body was taking expeditious steps to get rid of it.

What are we trying to overcompensate with (and for) these days? Society tells us we need “bigger, better, more, extra” – and we keep believing the hype. Do we really need a newer (or different) vehicle, outfit, accessory, or companion? Do we need to acquire additional items when our closets, drawers, and storage bins are already bursting at the seams? Do we need the extra serving on our plate just because it’s offered? When will we be content? Is there excess we can resist (or even expel) in our small corner of the world? Is there some emotional baggage we’ve carried for way too long that needs to be offloaded? (Can you tell I’m starting to parent pre-teens?!). Prayerfully consider – then decisively act. When we earnestly consider the valuable gifts God has placed in our lives, we must admit that we have more than a-plenty. As we enter the season of giving thanks, may we be truly grateful for that which we’ve already been given – which is much.

“Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.”
(Philippians 4:11)
“6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.
7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.
8 And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.”
(I Timothy 6:6-8)

© Copyright 2015 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Back to Basics: Sufficiency, Satiety, and Satisfaction

satiety – the quality or state of being fed or gratified to or beyond capacity; the revulsion or disgust caused by overindulgence or excess

Do we really believe that God is big enough to supply all of our needs, fulfill us, and satisfy us? Do we rest in the fact that He is able to provide for us spiritually, emotionally, financially, and physically – in an all-encompassing way? If so, we have a strange way of walking by faith in the fact that what we currently have is a-plenty. When we’re honest with ourselves, we can admit that we often see inconsistencies in ourselves before others do.

In today’s American culture, I’m not sure how much “revulsion or disgust” we have for overindulgence or excess. On the contrary, we’re infatuated and obsessed with obtaining “more.” If we watch a 30-minute TV program, we’re tempted by the offer to “binge watch” the entire season of episodes with one effortless download. No consideration of wasting an entire day (or more!) of productivity when we can have a glut of what we just tasted…it’s within easy reach. We want everything better, faster, in greater quantities – and we want it NOW. Even infomercials that offer us “the next big trinket” hook us with the promise of something EVEN BETTER than the fantabulous deal we’re already salivating over, baiting us with the nauseatingly predictable “but wait – there’s MORE…we’ll double your order for FREE if you call within the next 8 minutes!” And you know when they suggest that you give the extra one away as a gift, most of us end up with it sitting in a drawer, under a cabinet, or on a shelf collecting dust for months (or years). Even though we can only use one item at a time, we want more…because we’re never grateful enough to be satisfied with what we already have.

Godliness with contentment is great gain (I Timothy 6:6), but are we ever really content with what we have? Or are we subconsciously striving for “the next thing” instead of valuing our present state? My church’s theme for the past year has been “Looking Unto Jesus to Maximize and Strengthen What We Have.” If we thoughtfully and thoroughly count our blessings, we must realize and conclude that we need to take better stewardship to be effective with what we already have before we receive an additional drop of anything. Before lusting after that new pair of shoes/boots/outfit/purse/jewelry/home décor item, evaluate what we’re doing with the pile of similar items currently occupying our closet or running out of our drawers. I was particularly convicted when I acknowledged that before we’d finished our plenteous Thanksgiving meal leftovers, I was already wondering what we’d have for our Christmas feast. And yes, that type of overindulgence and excess will be taking me straight to the gym next week…and for MANY weeks to come…

As we reflect on the entirety of 2014 rapidly coming to a close, my prayer is that 2015 will be a year in which we fully and wholeheartedly embrace what God has for us – and appreciate it – no matter how it looks. In spite of whatever warped, perverted messages or misrepresentations advertisers and marketers attempt to bombard us with, may we receive the truth in our hearts that Jesus is the only One Who can satisfy, fulfill, and complete us. 

“1 Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:
3 Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases;
4 Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies;
5 Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”
(Psalm 103:1-5)

 © Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Boogers, Warts, and Ashy Skin

Hey, are you still blogging?
I haven’t seen you post anything new in a while…

For anyone who happened to wonder where I was, I chalk it up to being “under construction” – literally and figuratively.  We recently had a new home built, which was a 6-month process – relatively swift and painless (actually, a JOY with our builder). But add to that preparing for the process of moving (in both the natural the spiritual realm), ensuring a smooth change of my children’s school districts, my own outside-the-home job role evolution, and endeavoring to maintain family and ministry commitments with godly excellence, and you see an equation in which I found myself under a lot of pressure.  It wasn’t necessarily negative pressure, but I had to adjust to the quantity of pressure coming from different directions – all at the same time. And of course, a lot of the pressure was self-induced by a recovering unrealistic perfectionist.

So about the glamorous title of today’s post – you know how we all have ‘em, but nobody wants to admit it or talk about it – let alone highlight it?  Well, I’d kinda backed away from blogging during this latest season of transition because a lot of undesirable “yuckies” were unearthed.  Not only was I purging old, nearly forgotten about stuff from the back of the closet, attic, and garage, but I was doing the same thing with the clutter in my soul. And because I’m pretty transparent when I write, I didn’t want anybody to see my boogers, warts, and ashy skin.  Sure, I could admit they were present, but I didn’t want to shine a huge spotlight on them while I was in the midst of the purge – it was too fresh, too new.  But I encountered all three along my journey to this “new place.”

Nevertheless, I can look back with 20/20 hindsight and thank God for bringing me through the press He designed expressly for me.  Pressure causes one to change, transform, and conform to the image of what’s wielding the pressure.  So I continue to yield my will to His will for my life.  Perhaps in subsequent posts, I’ll be sharing lessons learned and insights illuminated.  Or just reflecting on the process.  Whatever unfolds, it’s not predetermined by me – I am an instrument in the hands of the Master Potter, desiring to be hidden behind the Cross for HIS ultimate glory.

“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…”
(Romans 7:18a)
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.”
(Romans 8:1-2)

© Copyright 2014 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Expiration Date: Disregard at Your Own Risk

On most food packaging, we see an expiration date field.  But it’s a suggestion, not a limit, right?  For instance, take a speed limit – do we REALLY cap our maximum driving speed at that top number, or do we take it as a “good idea” that we often ignore – like a “speed suggestion?” Just a rhetorical question…because we know the law says we should not exceed the speed limit.

The Parable of the Ashy Carrots:  A Life or Death Situation?

Last week, I ate some ashy-looking baby carrots.  Why, you may ask?  They were probably dry because the expiration date on the bag said February 20 and I was eating them in March.  Just a possibility… But the reason I ate them?  Well, I admit that was just a decision against my better judgment.

Sure, I saw the expiration date.  But I don’t think I even paused before saying, “Oh well, I’m sure they’re alright,” and proceeded to toss them into my lunch bag.  Fast-forward to afternoon nibble ‘n’ nosh time at my desk when I got to the second-to-last ashy carrot – it had a funny smell, was mashed up, and – ewwww! – is that a rotten spot?  Yup, with that weird taste, I could tell that it had definitely expired.  RIP, ashy carrots.  RIP.  I threw that fatefully icky bite and the remaining 1.5 carrots away as my tummy rumbled ominously.

Today, I’m eating baby carrots from a new bag that will expire later this month.  What a novel concept, eh?  They are bright orange and they look happy (and hydrated).  They sound crisp and crunchy as they prepare to jump into my tummy.  I’m sure the beta carotene and other nutrients are intact.  These healthy carrots don’t have an undercover agenda to cripple my innards.  So why on earth did I first choose the sickly-looking carrots the first time around?  I guess I was teetering on a slippery slope, taking a risk I thought I could afford.  Thankfully, nothing horrible happened after eating those ashy carrots (though I shudder at the memory of that horrific taste).  But we take similar risks with other things when God has clearly shown us the best choice for our lives.  So we have to consistently choose righteousness and obedience…and shun ashy carrots.  Selah.  Because there’s often much more at stake than our tummies…

“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

(Deuteronomy 30:19)

 “In the way of righteousness is life: and in the pathway thereof there is no death.”

(Proverbs 12:28)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

You Can’t Take It With You – and don’t dumpster dive to retrieve it!

There they stared at me:  reminders of pleasant memories – my birthday dinner, our family vacation…and the list goes on.  But really, after I recorded it in the checkbook, did I still need to keep the receipt?  No.  But honestly, I forgot the receipt was in there…so the clutter just continued to build up.  And receipts seem to have magnetic powers, as they obviously attract more of their own kind over time.  Maybe those dark folds and crevices of the purse are good for reproduction…

Whatever the case may be (and I think background, detailed reasons, and sentimental reasons are significant), I had to let it go.  Not to say that it wasn’t representative of something positive in my past, but I don’t need to keep that representation to my own detriment – particularly when space is at a premium.  By the same token, we sometimes hold onto memories that have become mental clutter.  Take a personal inventory today and see what old thoughts you can discard to free up some space in your mind.  Your thinking will be clearer and your heart will feel lighter.

Forgive my 12-step program tone, but I am in the process of becoming a reformed clutterbug…ooh, I do hate to admit that!  But as they say, admitting you have a problem is half the battle.  And as my hubby says, doing something about it is the other half…please pray for me, y’all!  As I’m learning to only hold onto things with eternal value, I acknowledge that I have miles to go on this journey! 

“Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.

For the merchandise of it is better than the merchandise of silver, and the gain thereof than fine gold.

She is more precious than rubies: and all the things thou canst desire are not to be compared unto her.

Length of days is in her right hand; and in her left hand riches and honour.

Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace.

She is a tree of life to them that lay hold upon her: and happy is every one that retaineth her.”

(Proverbs 3:13-18)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart

Shopping for the Apocalypse…and other ridiculously skewed notions

Well, I finally cleaned out my purse because it had become increasingly and unbearably heavier over the past few weeks.  In a rare moment of “clutter enlightenment,” I realized some of the stuff I’d amassed just needed to be discarded, including:

  • A clump of tissues for those “mommy-preparedness moments” that had sunken to the bottom, were disintegrating, and were releasing bits of dustlets (is “dustlets” a word? I dunno, but the paper fibers are floating everywhere and it’s pretty annoying)
  • Business cards for a business I’m no longer in
  • Five assorted shades lip glosses and lipsticks – like, how many lips do I have?
  • Multiple pens in various colors – I will not give on this one – hey, I’m a writer!

What really caught my eye was the 4-week collection of grocery lists…and pantry inventories taken before weekly grocery trips…and accompanying grocery receipts.  Seriously – am I planning to conduct a quantitative analysis based on and extracted from my weekly shopping data?  NO.  So why can’t I just trash ‘em???  Oh wow – did I actually just find this online resource?  Not sure if I can do this, but I might have to give it a try…is that a key indicator if I had a sudden urge to PRINT this advice and post it in my cube???  Hmmm, yes, that’s addressed in #3…Lord, have mercy…

Praise report:  I am now able to stick to the weekly grocery budget given to me by my hubby.  That’s a major accomplishment for someone who didn’t connect going over the allotted amount by an extra $5 or $10 (or whatever) with taking available funds away from another bill in the monthly budget.  Did I subconsciously think there was a money tree growing somewhere on my property??? No, but my compulsive tendencies were fueled by the lure of “SALE – this week only!” and coupons for items I wasn’t even planning to buy.  With prayer, I’m learning to stay focused and get no more than what my family needs for this week.  But it’s tough when you can “justify” getting it “just in case” – especially if it’s on sale…

I repented as I sheepishly admitted that stockpiling for “just in case” and gluttony were closely tied to my “preparations” of having “enough” in the house.  No problem with being prepared…but when it’s driven by anxiety, you have to check your motives.  I did.

“He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.”

(Revelation 2:17)

 “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

(Revelation 6:8)

© Copyright 2011 by Kayren J. Cathcart