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Lately, however, I find myself without the freedom to bask in my customary revelries, let alone find the time to think. Within the first two months of my senior year, I experienced an incredible shift in my workload as my AP classes and time-sensitive assignments began to take their toll. In just a couple of months, I found myself dealing with more work than I had ever dealt with in one sitting throughout my three previous years of high school. Talk about spooky right there! I’d been exhausted an baffled, not to mention pulled in too many directions to count. On top of all of this, I had been working at a local haunted house that runs every weekend night in October.
There, I was a makeup artist, an actor, and makeup removal crew, scrubbing and praying that our alcohol wipes wouldn’t dribble into our poor actors eyes any more than they already had.
Amidst this, about two weeks ago, I had been working on an assignment that had me staying up until 1:00 AM and rising at 4:00 to complete. The assignment was barely finished by the anticipated due-date and my other classes were beginning to pile on top of that as well. Friday rolled around and as I entered the haunted house, monstrous coffee in hand, I could already tell I was about to lose it… and I did. I had become bitter and unfiltered, snippy and frustrated with each and every slip up in others work and my own. I was unable to be the good kid I knew I could be and I was incapable of speaking to others with civility.
So, what good comes from this string of unfortunate predicaments? I myself couldn’t fathom the blessing in this situation until I’d finally relinquished my own control over the madness--or what control I thought I’d had. Between one of the few moments of peace I had encountered during this time--right before sleep or in the gaps between classes--I found myself being backhanded by the Hand of spiritual sense. In this, I was able to see what was already apparent, and what would have been apparent quite some time sooner, had it not been for the effects of sleep deprivation and my desperately calloused attitude: working is great, and a little bit of stress keeps you going, but overwork is brought upon by the hands of the Adversary.
Now, allow me to admit: the problems I face as a student likely seem like a field day compared to the chaos of being a special needs parent. Just being a parent is enough stress on its own, but to have to manage a child’s crippling challenges while enduring the simultaneous struggle to control one’s own sanity is more than most people would dare to face in their most frightening of dreams.
Regardless, we, as God’s blessed children, cannot let ourselves be swayed by sin when the road gets rocky and peace is the last thing we see on the horizon.
In the midst of my recent struggles, I can remember my youth pastor sending out a Twitter message that shoved me right out of my exhausted rut, saying:
And that’s just what we should be doing! God even tells us in Romans 6:13, “Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness.” (NIV)
God wants our everything, even our turbulent days and sleepless nights, and for the Man who died to set us free from such binding trials, we must owe Him what He is due, do we not? To take care of others as the hands and feet of God, we have to learn to take care of ourselves, even if that means letting yourself sleep through that extra hour, dividing some of that dirty work to the spouse lounging on the couch, or simply telling yourself to sit down in silence and rejuvenate with the amount of time God has blessed you with.
So go ahead and watch the Halloween thrillers that you’d never be viewing beyond this month of merriment; let yourself jump out of your seat at the sudden scares and unexpected horrors; let go and enjoy the next low-budget rendition of Frankenstein or Dracula and fear for the minds who created such iconic chillers; these are the little monsters to fear in irrationality. The big beasts manifested in our stresses and our schedules: those are the ones to watch from afar, to observe carefully, cautiously, so as to protect the health of the mind, body, and soul which God gave for us to hold dear.
Pray: Lord God, help me to learn how to take care of myself, to veer away from the strains and expectations of this world and run close to Your almighty provision of comfort and rest. Separate me from my stresses so that my eyes may always be fixed on You.
~ Alexandra Dittrich