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On Being Stuck: The battle of the in between


For the past few days, I’ve woke up in the middle of the night battling complications from a rather nasty cold I caught from my hubby. (He’s such a giver.)

Usually, somewhere between the wee hours of two and four AM, I’ve awakened, either coughing my head off, or struggling to breathe and sounding like a squeaker toy. In either case, I don the latest in fuzzy slippers and fleecy bath robes, grab my lotioned tissues, cough drops and water and head out of the bedroom so my sweet man can continue his slumber. (Now who’s the giver?)

I pad into the hearth room or go downstairs and wedge myself in on propped up pillows to make the breathing easier. It’s getting better though. I’m getting better. But I’m at that frustrating place between feeling like “I think this thing has passed!” at mid-morning and “I need soup and a nap” by mid-day. I’m ready to be well.

Apparently, my cold hasn’t read the memo yet.

So, here I sit (well, lay. Propped up on the downstairs couch). Stuck between sick and well, thinking about how much I hate being stuck. Not just stuck now, but “stuck” in general.

Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever felt like you’re working to get through something, or learn something, or process something and you’re just…stuck?

Or maybe you’re trying (like me) to lose weight or finish a project (or start one!) or break a bad habit. And you’re just. STUCK.

Stuck is no fun. For me, it can produce anxiety. Make me feel like a failure. Defeated. Or worse, shamed.

If I’m not careful, my inner dialogue can get pretty dark. Words like “always” and “never” try to work their way into the conversations I have with myself.

“I always do this. What’s wrong with me?”

“I’m never gonna get this right. I should stop trying.”

OH, the should-ing!

Ugh.

I forget to honor my tries. To be patient and kind with myself.

I don’t see “perfect”, so I can’t see “progress”.

Without a game plan to deal with these moments, I risk the ultimate defeat. Which is never trying in the first place.

What helps me is to remember that anything resembling this kind of behavior perpetuates my stuckness.

In fact, I would say it encourages it.

Because thinking these kinds of thoughts and demanding an unachievable level of perfection from myself is the most oppressive internal environment I can create.

What also helps is to share the journey. That’s right. I actually tell someone that I’m stuck. Even when my own willfulness and choices are the reason I’m stuck. Even though sometimes, there’s a voice in me that begs me to hide it. I refuse to listen.

Because I know that if I do, shame will creep in and isolation will win. And I will lose.

And I think the thing that helps most of all, and consequently the thing that’s most difficult to do, is to remind myself that my value and identity aren’t predicated on whether or not I get stuck sometimes.

I’m no less loveable or of worth. The people who really love me? They’re going to love me anyway. They are my examples of grace. If they can have it for me, I can have it for myself.

And I can’t let this post end without acknowledging that for me, God is an essential part of the journey. Even in the stuckness. And if the Creator of this universe can love me and have grace for me in those places, what business do I have not offering the same to myself? Or to others who may feel stuck and need encouraging too?

Instead, I try to throw that stuff around like glitter. (Cuz glitter sticks around. You just keep finding those shiny flecks long after you’ve touched what was glittery in the first place. Get what I’m saying?)

So, set the goals.

Process the thing.

Make the commitment to make the change.

Take the steps.

Do whatever you need to do to work through your ‘stuck’.

But speak kindly to yourself in the process.

And find your tribe to share the journey with. Theirs doesn’t need to look exactly like yours. It’s the more universal things that will matter anyway. Like love. And grace. Patience. And understanding.

Oh, and make sure they know how to celebrate with you when you get unstuck. Make sure you can celebrate with them too.

Your timelines make look very different. If you can remember that, you’re far more likely to feel motivated by another’s success than discouraged by it.

And no matter what, never forget you are valued. Whether you’re stuck or moving forward.

You are beautiful.

You matter.

And you are worthy of love.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear some soup calling my name.