The other day when I left our house and climbed aboard my bike to ride to work, I was feeling extremely overwhelmed. Not only did my shoulders feel heavy (a big backpack full of papers and gear didn't help) but my mind was jam-packed with worries, concerns and a general sense of oppressive dread. This is not a good way to start off a new week, I thought to myself.
This is a path I've tread many times prior, so when I start to head down this familiar and troublesome road, I pray. I try to give it all to God and attempt to let go, which for the most part takes care of my stress and anxiety. Unfortunately those duties and responsibilities are always still there, waiting for me, lurking in the shadows. The seemingly endless list of to-do items remains. My mind continues to be occupied even though my heart is much lighter.
That morning, on my way down the hill I thought about how my life some 17 years was so vastly different. There was actually days that I felt bored. Lonely. Empty. Time passed slowly, sometimes achingly slow, but such is the life of a young single guy with not much going on.
Back then I went to work, rode and raced my bikes, snowboarded and skied with friends, bought groceries, socialized and generally did whatever I wanted. Before I met Sharla I was really starting to get bored of this, my lifestyle. Surely there had to be more to my time on this earth than simply meeting my own needs and occasionally, those of others.
That all changed when we got married. I suddenly had another person to look after, care for and love, which was and is still an incredible gift. We then bought a house, had our first child and soon after, our second child. I started my own business. We bought a trailer, then a truck, then a van. The business was doing well so I hired a friend to work with me. Several years passed and our family was blessed with our third child. Life felt, full.
Our house then started needing repairs, so we either hired someone else or did them ourselves. Our kids were growing up and getting involved with after-school activities that were both time-consuming and expensive. We were (and are) always driving them in every direction.I began coaching our older son's soccer team throughout the year, starting in October and ending in April, then picking up again in May and running all the way to September. Our daughter is in dance every day of the work week from September to May. Our youngest just started kindergarten and also dances, but just one day per week.
Then pile on top of this, taxes, family events, investments, debt, vacations (well, paying for a family of five's vacation; the actual vacationing part is freeing), vehicle repairs, kids' homework and grades, their illnesses, injuries and them simply growing up and encountering the world. Last but not least, closing down a business and having to deal with all of the financial and contractual obligations that surrounds such an experience.
Wow, man. Just reading back through those last four paragraphs makes me realize how much I really do have on my shoulders. This is not imagined stress: it's very, very real. This is my life and there's really no end to the responsibilities in sight. I just have to figure out a way to survive and do whatever it takes to make it through while at the same time, learn to just enjoy the journey.
Life is not a dress rehearsel, as it's said, so I best buck up, count my blessings, carry what load I can and simply carry on, one step and one day at a time.