When You Need to Drop the Ball

Sometimes, we can forget that we’re worthy. In April, I realized that after a long season of loss, I needed a break. A good, long break. I love my work, truly, but I needed a rest from it. It seemed a bit impossible. We were understaffed, overbusy, and this was the wrong time to take a break.

It was the right time, though. I realized it when I started to drop the balls I was juggling. Forgetting things that others were waiting on, forgetting deadlines, forgetting to take meat out of the freezer for supper, forgetting to communicate back, forgetting lunch dates, forgetting my daughter’s appointment. Forgetting, and dropping the ball. It was made painfully clear by a couple of people that I wasn’t doing enough, that there was no grace in these circumstances, withdrawing kindness – saying that what I was, what I had to offer, was not enough. Worse, I was tempted to believe I actually deserved their assessment.

My whole career, I have diligently worked to not be the person who drops the ball. I’m the firstborn. The leader. The planner. The capable one. It’s been that way since I was small, actually, and I’m painfully aware of this strength that is also a weakness. And believe me, my coach & I have talked through my over-diligence score on my Birkman results many times to put things in perspective. My identity, although I know better, can still be so tied to diligence.

So, what happens when I don’t have capacity? When details slip past and my capability is diminished? I can forget my real worth and feel only failure and shame. (Isn’t it funny how we can hold ourselves to higher standards than we’d ever hold another to?)

I’d had to be diligent about an awful lot of extra things in that season, but I couldn’t be diligent in everything. There was just too much. It simply wasn’t possible. So, I took that rest that I needed. I talked and thought through what success looks like for me, which is a freeing thing.

The first book I really read during my three weeks of sabbatical was Mary DeMuth’s “Worth Living”, and it was well-timed. I needed to read her words about suffering not negating our worth, and being weakly strong. In those days when what I needed most of all was rest, I felt “weakly strong” indeed.  I read her words about what our primary job as women is: daughterhood. God’s loved daughters.

My favourite excerpt fromWorth Living is probably this (although I’ve got lots of folded pages and highlights)

“We are worthy when we sleep.

Worth Living by Mary DeMuthWe are worthy when we’re sick and cannot move.

We are worthy when depression immobilizes our resolve.

We are worthy when cancer steals our strength.

We are worthy when age slows us way down.

We are worthy when we fail.

We are worthy when we fail others.

We are worthy when our to-do list lies fallow, untouched.

We are worthy when we hurt.

We are worthy when we suffer persecution.”

As much as I do a good enough job at being hard on myself, Mary’s words also reminded me that there are “worth-stealers” in our lives. They are in my life, whether I like it or not, and I need to make the choice to not listen to their words about my unworthiness. Those people who told me, in their own unique ways, that I was not enough? They were not right. I had, without realizing it, believed them and allowed myself to be diminished by others instead of trusting the loving heart of God who says that I am loved just as I am – at all times. In the wrong times. The tough times. The good times. The resting times and the productive times. Even in the times when we’ve completely dropped the ball.

And when I was resting? I dropped more of those balls. My friend Elizabeth recently shared a thought with me about juggling. On how to discern which of the balls are crystal and will shatter when dropped, and which are rubber and will bounce back. Most of our balls are made of rubber, friends. They can drop in the corner and stay there until you pick them up. And if you never pick them up? That’s probably fine too. Your life is far more than your never-ending to-do list. Far more.

I suspect that knowing your real worth and identity makes it far easier to discern which balls to drop. For me, it is that laying in bed at night, knowing my sweet girl is sound asleep, hearing my husband’s deep breathing (which is a kind way of saying snoring), with a moment alone with my thoughts and Jesus, when I say to myself, “this is what is real. This is life.” And guess what? Even though they are my balls made of “crystal”, I forgot to pick up my daughter, forgot to make supper, and forgot any number of things for my dear husband – AND THEY ARE STILL ALIVE. Shocking, right? Here’s to being worthy regardless, friend.

What balls need to drop in your life?

Who are the worth-stealers you need to stop listening to?

How do you measure your worth?

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