Are they killing you too? I’m not talking about some crazy whim you got when you thought you could still walk around like you were 17 years old and you bought a pair of boots that absolutely kill your feet, I’m talking about those boot straps were supposed to “pull up” when things get tough. I’m sure you are familiar with the phrase, “Just got to pull up my boot straps and keep going,” or something similar to that vernacular, depending on where you live and who you hang out with. If you are younger, you may not have heard that phrase but if I were to say “time to put your big girl panties on and deal,” would that ring a bell? Little less discretion in the latter phrase, but I’m swinging at the same thing.
And its almost like hearing that phrase gives us another notch in the belt of hard knocks. You never hear it when times are good….when you’re flourishing or taking the world by storm. No, it usually comes when we’ve fallen flat on our faces. Sometimes we lie there in the mud for a moment, sometimes we roll over and scrape the crap out of our eyes to get our bearings…but eventually, we have a choice to make and it’s either to sit there in the mud and cry or to get up, brush ourselves off and “pull up our boot straps.”
So many times, too many times, I have prided myself on being a self-starter, self-finisher, strong-hear-me-roar kind of woman. I mean, just read my bio! And trust me, I have been in the mud plenty of times; many were self-induced or things I allowed to happen to me but plenty were just life circumstances. Let’s face it, life happens and mud happens. But I always had the tenacity to roll over, scrape it off, and pull myself up out of the mud. “I will not be taken out” I would tell myself.
Until I was. Until I was flung into the mud that one last time. It wasn’t even deep mud. It wasn’t even like I was thrown into the mud. But that last time…. I. Could. Not. Get. Out. My body was done. My soul was so fatigued it had no more strength to grasp around in the dark mud to reach for my boot straps. The war in my head waged on as I laid there… “C’mon! Get up! Get your big girl panties on and lets get back in the game,” I said to myself. But. I. Could. Not.
Capacity is a crazy thing because it actually has limits. And when we pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps and move on, press on….
without adequate time to heal or process, we take up space in our soul and reduce it’s capacity to thrive.
In fact, each time our heart/spirit takes a hit, and we sweep it under the rug, deny it, or use our own strength to push onward…. it doesn’t go away; it just stacks up…takes up residence deep down in our soul where we stuff it until capacity runs out…and leaves us face down in the mud with no ability to get up again.
But friends, there is a way. We just have to realize that we, in our own strength, can do very little to nurture our soul back to health. Apart from God, we’re just working in our own broken strength and sooner or later… we WILL run out of energy from trying to stuff our brokenness….dismiss our pain…. deny our grieving.
But God, our amazing creator who actually knit the fabric of our souls during our creation…. He can partner with us. He can mend those broken places that hurt, truly hurt when we get knocked down. When we fall in the mud. When our hearts are broken. If we let him.
What does that look like? It looks real. It looks authentic. It can look like a hot mess sometimes….tear stained and red-nosed with a empty box of tissue at our side.
Stopping, and letting ourselves acknowledge that we have been hurt, disappointed, scraped up, etc, is the very first step that gives God something to work with. Not jumping straight to our boot straps may mean counseling, it may mean we retreat and get some time in with God in prayer, or reading, or listening to some really good music that makes our heart sing again. It may mean that we reach out to a friend and acknowledge, “No, I do not have all my stuff together and I need to talk it out.”
If I can just encourage you today to grasp hold of this and give yourself the freedom to let go of those old habits. I’ve found some friends in some really dark places this last year. They are realizing and uncovering that we don’t just get kicked off our horse once and land in these dark places… it’s usually a result of reaching capacity – for every great woman I know has felt the need to pull herself up by her bootstraps just one too many times…. until she can’t. Friends, it’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to say “no more.” It’s okay to wipe the false sense of DIY off of our souls..that’s God’s job…and He is more than sufficient to handle any mess we’ve made.