This past Monday, I took time over my lunch hour for an appointment with Nate, my counselor. With the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s been almost three months since we’ve met. We spent a few minutes making small talk, catching up on how our respective Christmases went and how the year has started out for each of us. Pleasantries now aside, I shared that as of late, I feel like I’ve been more on edge. Little things that I made have been able to take in stride, now send me through the roof; Kids getting out of bed after I’ve laid them down. Spilled milk on the carpet. Getting cut off in traffic. I offer a hypothesis to Nate on why my fuse has been shorter than usual. Now, I’m not going to explore the root cause just yet (although it would make a good future post), but suffice to say that mentally, I’m a little bit of a doomsday prepper. Nate agreed that the analogy was spot on.
Essentially, I lean “worst case scenario” for most things in my life; to get my hopes up and drop my guard equates to a high probability of being let down. Therefore, it’s more advantageous to keep my expectations low. To doomsday prep, I mentally map out decisions big and small, always trying to stay ahead two or three moves in the proverbial game and remaining in control…of everything. As one could imagine, this causes a good amount of anxiety and worry over often vague and nebulous scenarios. Now,I rationally know that these scenarios may never come to pass, but it doesn’t matter.
The act of doomsday prepping can be mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausting at times. It makes it hard to enjoy life when you’re constantly trying to plan for it. In its mild form, it manifests in my neuroses and OCD-like behavior. At its worst, it burns indiscriminately as anger.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve “always” been this way. One of the major reasons I’m seeing Nate is to work through these paradigms, but when your frame of reference is centered on “doomsday prepping” and the ability to control situations in their totality, you can’t expect change overnight.
“What if things were different?”
“What if there was a point in time where the kids and Amber said, “yeah, Keith used to be this way, but then he changed?”
I leaned back into Nate’s couch. I sink slightly, the back cushions imperceptibly enveloping me as they have countless others who have sat here before I did. Nate’s proposition sounded nice, but it felt like a pipe dream, a Herculean task set forth before me. I didn’t have an answer for him at that time, but like a dog with a bone, his questions gnawed at me the rest of our time together.
Yet, as I walked out of his office and continued about my day, I felt a glimmer of hope. Change is possible, but it will require work. It will require trust in the process. It will require faith in a God who I believe is in control. Not a bullshit Christianese “Everything happens for a reason!” or “Let go, let God!” or my personal favorite, “You just need to pray more!” faith. While often well-intentioned, those phrases to me ring hollow. Instead, I need to remind myself of the God who throughout my entire life, has never left my side. Who is big enough for my questions, doubts, and my occasional F-bomb peppered rants at Him. He is a God who has brought me burned and scarred through the fires of life, but has not let me be destroyed.
I wrote in my theme post that my past efforts for change didn’t result in much because I didn’t expect worthwhile results. I halfheartedly tried, but always had an excuse ready in my back pocket to justify giving up. But I’m going to keep hammering on this: This year will be different…it has to be. No more half-assed attempts at doing better. It’s time to raise my expectations and demand more from myself. It’s time to start expecting that the work I’m putting in will produce worthwhile results.