I’m standing on the driveway in the hot summer sun. The new asphalt stings my nose as I watch one of my best friends show off his talents. Justin is good at everything – he can scissor jump a fence, swing higher than I can. He can jump great heights and land on his feet. He can beat me at a race every single time. But today he’s showing me how to juggle. So I stand, watching him. He’s got three balls going and then he gets me to toss him more. The balls are flying through the air, but he seems to have them under control. With the heat of the sun beating down, I try to do the same. But the sun is in my eyes, and I can’t see a thing. The balls slip from my grasp and I lose them all, one by one. We share a laugh and sip some lemonade, because it’s just a silly childhood game.
I’m not laughing anymore. And somehow, the balls have multiplied. If responsibilities were balls we juggle, I would have more than even the finest juggler could handle.
As an autism mom, there’s a lot of things to remember. So many things. And it all comes down to me, because my husband works to support the family and I keep us running smoothly. Because I’m coordinated and organized. It’s how we work. It’s how it’s always worked. I’ve juggled all the special needs balls for so long – scheduling therapies, doctor’s appointments, school meetings, outings, respite care. And then the regular mom balls – laundry, housework, after school activities, homework help, meal planning, grocery shopping. Then the balls for holidays – birthdays, Christmas, Mother’s and Father’s Day. And then, my own personal balls – work, volunteering, ministry and health. That’s a lot of balls for one person. And I’ve been juggling them well for years, until suddenly I realized I was exhausted.
And balls started to drop. One by one, they started slipping from my grasp. Little things started throwing me off my game. Phone calls from the school requiring extra balls for me to juggle, when I felt like I couldn’t handle one more thing. Appointments that needed to be rescheduled, and rescheduled again. And then disappointments added in the mix – which to be honest are their own set of balls. And it all stacked up against me and I did something I never do – I missed one of my treatments. Completely, didn’t even cross my mind, kind of miss. And all the balls came crashing down around me.
What do you do when you don’t even know how to recover? What do you do when you’re so exhausted, completely spent, so over-the-top discouraged that you just.can’t.even?
I didn’t know the answer, or maybe I was just so weary that what was obvious didn’t seem to be. I spent a few days there, with these balls I juggle scattered all over the floor. Picking through them each day, scrambling to make sure everyone had what they needed and all was accounted for. And in my heart, as I stared at these invisible balls that only I could see, I knew what I needed to do.
Sometimes when you’re weary, and something is broken, you just need baby steps. So I opened the curtains and let the sun pour into the room. And while the sun was shining on my face, I listened to worship songs until my lips and my heart were aligned. Until the words I was singing sank in deep, watering the deep roots that were already there.
And then I was back on the driveway of my childhood home, in the hot summer sun. With the asphalt stinging my nose and the colourful balls scattered in every direction. Instead of my thirteen year old self reaching for the balls, it was me as I am now. I picked up these balls and noticed they had words on them, names of my responsibilities today. I picked up the important ones, and started to juggle. And suddenly, I wasn’t alone. Another set of hands were picking up the rest, juggling right alongside me.
Sometimes when you’re weary, and something is broken, you just need Jesus. It’s not that He’d ever left, really. It’s just that in my exhaustion, and my deep discouragement, I had forgotten I could just call His name. A friend reminded me today that sometimes when the stuffing is knocked out of you, you just need to whisper His name and He will come. And suddenly, the fog was lifted for a moment and everything was clear.
When discouragement comes, when juggling alone seems too much to bear, we can call on Jesus. And we can call on others, too. God has placed many people in our lives to support and come alongside us when we are weary. They are a testament of His care for us. Even the little things that they do speak His name louder than you can imagine. And at the root of all of this is Love.
Because sometimes when you’re in the thick of it, losing all the balls, you forget who you are. You forget that you are loved. You forget Who you belong to. And when you forget, that’s when discouragement creeps in to your heart. Don’t let it. Don’t be like me, staring your responsibilities down, trying to do it on your own. Remember Love, and call His name.