I’ve been going through a hard thing.
Mounting stress, anxiety, and drama have come at me wave after wave—and not in a rhythm I could easily ride out, but one that left me fighting. Difficult circumstances anchored themselves in my life so long, they were beginning to pull me under. Just when I would come up for air, I’d get pounded by another wave I didn’t see coming.
Month after month, I felt the electricity of panic rise up in my belly when another wave would hit. The perfectionist (and the momma) in me needed to fix this, so I fought hard to control the situation. I flailed my arms and legs in a desperate attempt to keep my head above the waves. But in reality, I was taking on water. I was taking on my circumstances. They thrust me under for seconds that felt like days.
Until I put my feet down.
I stood up—not to the waves, but in the midst of them. Turns out, my feet could reach the bottom. I was letting myself drown in just a few feet of water. I didn’t put my foot down to make a stand against someone or something. In fact, I stopped fighting the waves altogether. They are a force beyond my control. I cannot change the waves. Rather, I placed my own two feet on the ground and stood up in the middle of the chaos. And I immediately realized I had more power than seconds earlier I had believed.
In the middle of my fight, I learned three things about myself.
The struggle is real. I’m not imagining this.
When I feel overwhelmed, I like to tell myself it’s not as bad as it looks. I try to bring things down to a size I think I can manage. And maybe, just maybe, the problem will go away on its own. But sometimes, the problem actually is big. Sometimes it really is scary.
By putting my feet down, I acknowledged the waves coming against me are real. My fight to overcome them is real. But this problem is something I can handle. If I am passive, I will continue to struggle with it until the waves eventually pull me under. It is entirely up to me to stand up and recognize I am equipped to handle the waves.
I have greater control when I release my grip on what is beyond my control.
Waves are powerful. Circumstances in life can be mighty forces to be reckoned with. They may fight to overtake me, but they are not mine to control. In fact, trying to control the waves wore me out. I put up a good fight for a while. I pleaded. I demanded. But the waves completely ignored me. In fact, they kept coming even after I put my feet down.
My problems didn’t stop when I decided to stand up. But from a higher perspective, I could identify what was within my control and release the rest. The waves were no longer relentlessly slapping me in the face. They were lapping against my legs. I positioned myself to stand in peace and make quality decisions about what was within my control. The waves are still rolling against me, but I have denied them the power to take me under. I am standing tall right in the middle of them.
I have the power to pull myself up and out.
The waves are real, and they are forceful. But I am bigger than my circumstances. I have been designed to withstand storms. Hurtful words, careless actions, and painful circumstances may be swirling around me, but I am not a victim.
I quit fighting and flailing by simply putting my feet down. In that instant, it struck me: I have the power to pull myself up and out. I am not powerless to outside forces. I must simply stand. I suddenly had more resolve than I had ever imagined.
I think this happens to people all the time. We feel like we are drowning in responsibilities, in debt, or in unhealthy relationships. We experience pressure and drama in waves. We may fight against the issues for a while, only to eventually succumb to the heaviness of it all. We become desensitized to our own struggles and adopt the weight of them as just a part of life. When we learn to live with the weight of it all, we begin to sink.
Or in the case I am describing from my experience, problems come. We adapt ourselves to certain roles that help us manage the people or the issues that are beyond our control. We take on problems just like we take on water. They may not even be ours to solve, but the effects of them are still felt. In my experience, I quit trying to change the things that were beyond my control. I quit trying to fix the problem, to stop the waves.
I simply put my feet down.
I gained a clearer perspective on what was within my control, and I shifted my focus from the waves to the resolution. I’m still in the waves, and they still affect me. But I took back the power they once had over me by simply standing in the midst of them.
When we feel like we are drowning, we would do well to simply put our feet down.