One of my classes informed me yesterday that they were officially DONE for the year. I teach Language Arts to high school seniors, so this wasn’t news to me. At this point in the year, the prom is way more important than poetry. Actually, pretty much ANYTHING is more important than poetry to these students.
My typical teacher answer was that just because they FEEL done doesn’t mean they ARE done. We still have plenty of school days left, whether they have the energy or motivation for them or not. Feelings don’t change the reality of the calendar.
This is an issue many of us face, sometimes daily. Being DONE. With pain, emotional and physical. With lousy circumstances. With uncertainty. With lives that aren’t what we want. Sometimes it’s just all too much: too relentless, too agonizing, too isolating.
But life and its demands move on regardless of the exhaustion. Jobs need to be done, houses need to be maintained, kids need to be cared for, bills need to be paid. There is no time to be at the end of your proverbial rope.
I have felt DONE many, many times lately. I have found the daily grind of work, home, and other responsibilities to be overwhelming in the middle of the difficult journey of grief and loss. Like my students, I have wanted to proclaim that I officially quit for the month, week, or year.
As Pastor Greg has preached the past couple of weeks, I have been intrigued by the character of Hannah. Biblical characters are normally two dimensional to me, people who have done great things for God through their faith and goodness but are really too good to be real people. They are people I admire but can’t be.
However, taking a close look at Hannah’s grief experience has given me a new angle on which to view her. She, too, had the feeling of being overwhelmed with loss and sorrow. She was “done” as well…to the point of having no other option than to throw herself on the ground in prayer, weeping. As Greg stated in his sermon, hers was not a pretty situation or pretty prayer. It was messy and had no easy solution.
BUT Hannah throws herself on the ground in prayer anyway, despite the mess she is in. I cannot help but think of what I do when I am overwhelmed. Is prayer my first reaction to being “done”? Or is it a last resort after I have tried all of my other coping mechanisms and control techniques? Usually, I find myself trying to manage the situation before I go to serious prayer. I’m not willing to seek God first in what Greg called the “confusing in between,” that space where the purposes of grief and loss are unclear.
And it isn’t that I don’t WANT to seek God. I don’t want to actively turn my back to Him. It is a matter of not prioritizing what needs to be first when everything gets to be too much to handle. Going to God in my grief and panic needs to be a default setting, an automatic reaction to stress and pain. That will only happen when I remember that everything that happens is under the jurisdiction of our loving God.
The only way to avoid feeling done is to go to the One Who has already done everything I need to live a fulfilled life under His grace, one day at a time.