In my family, we have a stubborn strain running through our DNA.
I’m not particularly against it.
This kind of stubborn keeps you from giving up when it matters. It helps you stay for the long haul in relationships and friendships. And, it keeps you following your dreams even as life’s seasons change and morph.
We are particularly stubborn with people. We believe the best, want the best and don’t like to see our loved ones give up. Whether career paths, raising families, hobbies or passions, we give you every reason to keep going no matter the obstacle.
This kind of stubborn can take you far.
When you just keep showing up and not giving up, the balance tends to fall on the good side of the pursuit. My mom says reach for the moon because you may just land on a star. This is the sparkly, shiny, shimmery side of stubborn.
Stubborn has another side. You can call it the matte finish, dull side or mix-all-of-the-paint-colors-together poo color. Yes, I did say that. It’s my middle brother’s fav emoji when he doesn’t like what I say.
This is the other side of stubborn:
- I can’t see the (bad) reality of my marriage or close friendship.
- I’m not a people pleaser; I just care a lot about whether people accept me.
- Of course I understand grace, I just like to work hard to prove my value.
- I trust God, but I feel abandoned when I don’t understand the hard things in my life.
This is the flip side of the good stubborn.
When life is going fairly well, it is hard to know if you have the good stubborn in your DNA or whether you are headed for stuck.
I remember stuck well.
The old version of myself really believed I could do it all. Full time work. Present mothering. Domestic queen. Write a book. Take two classes. Volunteer. I was very stubborn about this.
Until one day, I couldn’t go anymore.
Really, that’s what happened. I got out of bed one weekday morning. I walked partially down the hall in dim light to wake up my kids. I stopped half way and desperately prayed that I would make it back to my bed without collapsing or throwing up.
That was five years ago. It’s not possible to summarize the last five years. Instead, I have transparently shared bits and pieces of my story with you and what I have learned along the way. This post is yet another piece of that story and the growth that took place.
Are you stubborn or stuck? It’s a fine line.
I already said that the good stubborn can take you far.
The bad stubborn will take you down.
What is bad stubborn?
That’s when you are stuck. Although I tried really hard to recover from my burn out, I was using worn out tools that didn’t help me move or breathe again in new freedom. I really did try. I reflected a lot about who I wanted to be to my family and self. I wrote in my journal. I prayed. I talked to God. I got some rest. But not a lot changed.
The depression set in deeper. The anxiety began to show up during the day instead of just at night. The sound of the alarm clock caused my chest to feel like someone low volt tased me. Music turned up the anxiety instead of calming me. Work was one of the few things that steadied me. But that was one of the problems.
After getting worse, I began counseling. I mostly sat in silence for a few months. I wrote the counselor journal notes from my week. He would read them in advance of our meeting and then he would tell me stories that had principles tucked in them. After telling me the story, he would ask me what I got from it. I would eventually relearn my faith and gain an abundance of relevant tools to live by.
How does one move out of deep silence and extraordinary loss? The answers do not come with the degree I have.
But what I do know is that I had a significant revelation about six weeks into counseling. I determined that, although I had a fairly good view of myself in terms of strength, capabilities and relationship with God, there must be something off center. Otherwise, I would not be in the state I am in.
Ding. Ding. (That’s the bell of revelation).
I ventured into a new way living, a new way of understanding God and new tools to work with the mental illnesses that became part of my life at that time.
So, are you stubborn or are you stuck?
If you are good stubborn, you are pressing into the battles and obstacles that lead to life, freedom and service.
If you are bad stubborn, you probably are stuck.
I trust the timing of God. I wish that I had not suffered for the six months or so before I acknowledged I had to change the way I thought, my faith and the way I ran my life. My good stubborn ran out and I didn’t realize it. I had tipped the scales to stuck and stayed there until I almost completely lost my hope.
If you are in a place of anguish, anxiety, depression, burn out and emptiness, your good stubborn has run out. You are stuck. You will have to choose to give up your ways and relearn life and faith. Or you can remain flopping like a fish in a puddle craving oxygen.
Even if you don’t understand the path ahead or how you will navigate the loss, you will have to choose new life if you want to recover.
I am going to share my Big Three with you. This is all extra. I hope I have already said enough to help you decipher between stubborn and stuck.
The big three helped me sort my way out of silence.
When it comes to friendships, very few are core. Most are circumstantial or peripheral. That’s okay. Cherish and rely on core friends. Enjoy the other friends as they move through the flow of your mutual lives.
When it comes to control, remember that life is a moving target. The only control you have is over you. When hitting the target becomes impossible, it’s a cue that the arrow belongs to the Holy Spirit. Pass the impossibility to the one who is faithful to work out impossible things.
When it comes to expectations, they must be based on past experience. Stay in reality when it comes to your expectations. When I am rooted in reality, I am able to plan my days with security. This means that whatever happens, I can do what’s right without fear. 1 Peter 3:6.
Do you know if you are stubborn or stuck?
The good stubborn will take you far.
If you’ve morphed into the bad stubborn, then you are probably stuck.
If you’re stuck, my hope is that you’ll simply acknowledge that there is a better way to live, think and believe. I didn’t understand the path ahead or how to navigate it, but that’s not a condition for getting unstuck. The condition is that you are willing to reach outside of yourself for wisdom, grace and the hope you need to change.
I love you my friends.