Justifiably occupied. That sounds so much better than procrastinating. I have spent years learning how to do this well. Here’s what it looks like for me: I have a few hundred pages of ancient Greek stories to read for World Lit, but instead I tell myself I should get all the words and ideas out of my head first by doing some journaling and writing so I can concentrate and focus on the new information I have to put in my brain. And since I’m going to have to write a lot for all of this semester’s courses, I’m priming the pump, so to speak. I am quite skilled at this form of procrastination.
Looking at that last paragraph I catch myself using three phrases I’m attempting to purge from my vocabulary. My therapist would totally call me out! Should and have to; the curse of being a recovering perfectionist and people-pleaser. Eight months ago I started on a new journey. I didn’t really keep it a secret, but it wasn’t something I posted all over social media either. With my psychiatrist’s okay, I slowly took myself off the pharmaceuticals I’d been on for over two decades to help the symptoms of anxiety and depression. I wanted to give myself a chance to try to live life undrugged. I felt I was in a place where I had gotten physically and spiritually healthy, and wanted to see what I could do about the mental aspects. With a lot of self-care habits, clean eating, essential oils, supplements, a good therapist, and a support group through Celebrate Recovery, I’m doing okay. But it often feels like hard work.
“You look tired.” I hear this from so many people. Teachers I work with say this. Friends at church. The receipt-check guy at Costco! He told me that I looked tired and should go home and get some rest. In his defense, he’s a sweet older gentlemen who sees me in there more than is good for our bank account. Anyway…when strangers and acquaintances start commenting on your soul-weariness, this is an indicator that something is going on. What’s going on is that I am doing the hard work of deep healing, and I’m not good at faking it.
If you see someone in a wheelchair with casts on both arms and legs, clearly something happened to hurt them and they need time to heal. No one questions how exhausting it is to keep up with the normal responsibilities of life in that situation. However, when someone has soul-level damage (what CR calls hurts, habits, or hang-ups), and you’re allowing God to work on healing those aspects of your life, people can’t see that. They don’t understand that it’s just as time-consuming and exhausting as physical healing can be, and it can be awkward to try to explain it. “You look tired.” “Yeah, well I’m trying to retrain my brain to think positively and today that is using up all my energy because I just want to cry right now. So yes, I’m tired.” Instead I say, “Yes. Can’t wait for the weekend,” or something equally inane.
I write all these words to remind myself, and hopefully enlighten others, that deep healing takes time and effort and not everyone will understand or support this. The energy expended to work on things at a soul-deep level may take away from other areas for a time, but in the end, it was the more worthwhile thing; for our good and God’s glory.