Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Feeling Pressured

I know it’s been a while since I’ve blogged, but frankly, I have been so busy! I keep thinking my life is going to slow down someday soon, but the elusive soon only seems to be receding on the horizon as fast as I approach it. It’s incredibly frustrating. And either I’m getting worse at dealing with the pressure, or the pressure is intensifying…

A quick run-down:

  1. I'm sick and have been for days.

  2. We are remodeling our main bathroom and must therefore use the only other bathroom in the house: the basement bathroom.

  3. We have houseguests (and will for the next few weeks) and must share said bathroom with six people.

  4. Our family has been without a family car for six weeks now. I’m not sure Aaron’s ’77 Chevette counts as a car… Well, at least not a family car--we can’t fit the car seats in it.

  5. My redline manuscript is coming today.

  6. I’m bogged down in emails, phone calls, and a seemingly never-ending list of To-dos.

  7. Mothering two toddlers is getting the best of me! Who knew parenting was this hard???
The list goes on… I need a vacation!

Well, that was cathartic. And kind of whiny. And, as always, God’s not letting me get away with it. Let me explain…

Just when I’m starting to feel really sorry for myself, really pressured by all the responsibilities that fall on my shoulders, I’m reminded that I am blessed beyond belief. Aaron spoke with Robert (our friend from Liberia) on the phone the other day. Remember my last post and our fears that a child in the orphanage had died? Well, this call confirmed our fears, though it wasn’t a child who had passed away. Lucia (Robert’s wife) lost her aunt last week. She died unexpectedly and it was very hard on their family. Aaron, completely devastated and trying to comfort his friend in some small way, asked: “How did she die, Robert?”

The answer: PRESSURE.

Excuse me? How does one die of “pressure”?

Apparently, Liberians are very familiar with this term and it’s meaning. It’s relatively common to die of pressure. But it’s not what you think. Pressure is not the result of an over-busy life. It’s not some crazy physiological consequence of West African heat and humidity. It doesn’t even have to do with pressure as North Americans understand it.

Lucia’s aunt died of the crushing weight of horror. The memories, the sorrow, and the sheer terror of Liberia’s civil war are still fresh in the minds of many Liberians. Many of these people saw their families killed, their wives and daughters raped, their children stolen and forced to fight in rebel armies, and their country destroyed. Some of the survivors have never recovered. They die of the “pressure.” Who knows, maybe it’s post-traumatic stress syndrome. Maybe their deaths are completely unrelated to the mental and emotional anguish they are experiencing. Or maybe our hearts and minds are far more powerful than our earthly bodies. Maybe dying of pressure makes more sense than heart disease, cancer, and AIDS combined.

At any rate, I don’t need a vacation, I need an attitude adjustment. Let’s try this again:

  1. Last night I was able to go to a walk-in clinic and receive medicine for my illness. I feel better already.

  2. We have the wonderful opportunity to turn our dinky little bathroom into something gorgeous and functional. Venetian plaster, bamboo flooring, and new mirrors and fixtures are just a few of the improvements.

  3. Our home, though small, is well suited for houseguests and we love having our friends and family stay with us. Besides, we’ll only have to share a bathroom for a few more days.

  4. Though we don’t have a usable car, my family lives nearby and they are more than generous in allowing us to borrow theirs when we truly need it. The rest of the time, I put the kids in the bike trailer and use pedal power! What’s wrong with that?

  5. My redline manuscript is coming today! I love the editorial process and I’m excited to see what my editor thought of my second book. Never mind the fact that this just serves as a reminder that my lifelong dream is coming true…

  6. I have a telephone, a computer, and all the accoutrements of a lavish life. I am rich beyond measure.

  7. I get to mother two toddlers! They are the sweetest, cutest little boys I’ve ever seen. And I’m doubly blessed that I don’t have to go to work and leave them in day care.

The list goes on… I have NOTHING to complain about.

And I’m starting to wonder if all the “pressure” in my life is nothing more than the consequences, the byproducts, of all the blessings that have been heaped on me. How backwards is that?

Anyway, to keep myself grounded, I’ve been sneaking peeks at this photo. It’s of a soldier walking through the streets of Monrovia, Liberia at the end of their last civil war. Look closely. He’s not walking on gravel.

I don’t know the meaning of the word pressure


  1. Nicole,

    I love small world things!

    My sister-in-law, who works at Tyndale, just sent me an ARC of your book. I love to read, also live in NW IA--in the "other" Dutch town =), and taught middle school English!

    Anyway, just had to say hello! I'm excited to continue discovering Julia's story . . .

  2. Such a great reminder - YES - we have so much to be thankful for! On the same topic, however, I have been sick too and I totally hear you - when you don't feel well it clouds everything!! But yes, I'm on meds too so hopefully all will be well soon!! I will pray for you - for health and peace with company in your home and renovations underway -

  3. Hey, Nik,
    Hang in there--it is wonderful to find what a little perspective will do for one's soul, though it is hard to avoid the "poor me" syndrome. I think Satan likes it...all the more reason to fight it? I'll fight mine, but sometimes it is "fun" to wallow in it for a while with a bit of rich chocolate and a great cup of coffee in hand. Let's do that together sometime, shall we?