There has been a burden lifted off my shoulders today. It had been there for a week before I even recognized that it was a burden. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty good at just not "feeling" some of my feelings . . . stress, in particular. My body reacts: I don't sleep. But that's pretty common for me whether I'm stressed or not, so I often don't subjectively recognize that I'm feeling stressed out.
Take this latest example. I did a post last week that I had been asked to take a leadership role in the silent auction and raffle for the 2008 Maadi Women's Guild Christmas Bazaar. The very day that I accepted the position, I stopped sleeping. I became restless. I suddenly had an urge to clean my flat. I felt a little anxiety about the bazaar; that was normal--I've never done anything like this, and there's a lot to do. But I shied away from doing anything. I didn't know where to start. Now, had I thought it through, I would have recognized what I was experiencing: my classic "I am overwhelmed/in over my head/incapable of handling this" response. But I didn't think it through. I just did some cleaning and focused on other things.
Then God decided that, yes, it is again time to remind Deborah to pay attention to her body's natural cues. So He gave me one I couldn't miss. At my Sunday morning study of the book Captivating (by John and Stasi Eldredge), while we were giving prayer requests, I asked the ladies in my group to pray for me because I was feeling a little anxious about this leadership role. I thought I was pretty casual about it. But Ute, our leader, saw that there was more to it than that, so she got me talking about it. The next thing I knew, I was bawling. All of the suppressed anxiety rose to the surface, and I realized just how unprepared I am for that responsibility. It's like a random, inexperienced, guy off the street was put in charge of a Fortune 500 company. No clue where to start. Even if people tell him what needs to be done, he really doesn't have the knowledge or experience to accomplish it. That's how I felt.
So we prayed, and after I got home, I prayed some more. I told God all about how unprepared I felt, and that while I was willing, I didn't think I had the knowledge or skills to be effective in this role. I asked that He either would give this responsibility to someone else or give me the peace that He would get it done even if it was through me. After I prayed, I had peace about the situation. I felt God impressing upon me that the leadership role was not where He wanted me this year. My assigned role was what I had originally volunteered for: to work in partnership with others and to learn the things that I would need to know to step up to a position of greater responsibility in the future. However, I also felt that it was not yet clear if that would be possible, due to a lack of volunteers who were willing and able to take responsibility. But my gracious God gave me a peace that even if I did need to continue in the leadership role, He would make it work, and I had nothing to worry about. If I continued in a leadership role this year, it wouldn't be His preferred plan, but He would bless the efforts anyway.
One of the other ladies in the group is working on the bazaar, too, and Marge actually had asked her to check in on me and see how I was doing. Marge had known I was hesitant and wanted to make sure I could handle it. So Marge was told that whether I could handle it or not, I didn't think I could, and I was very anxious about this. (No confidences were broken, even though we do have a rule that nothing from Sunday morning goes outside the group. Marge is a part of our group, but she wasn't able to be there this week. Also, before I had said much at all, the other lady told me that Marge had asked her to check on me, so I knew the information would be shared--and I wanted it to be; otherwise, I would have said so, and it wouldn't have been shared.)
So this morning, I had a meeting with Halina about the auction. When I got there, Marge was there as well. Marge has been busy! Marge has agreed to take responsibility--even though she has SO much other stuff on her plate--and there is a team of four of us who will work under her leadership. We will do most of the time-consuming footwork, since Marge has enough time-consuming activities to do as president of the Maadi Women's Guild and as coordinator for the commercial vendors at the bazaar. Halina is soliciting donations from the greater Cairo, non-Maadi, area, including the large donations such as Nile cruises, airline tickets, and hotel stays. Pam and I will take the lead on obtaining smaller donations from businesses within Maadi, with help from Jennifer, who also will decorate for the silent auction. Marge will go along the first time or two, since Pam and I haven't done that before. I'm doing the administrative stuff--keeping track of the donors so we can make sure they all get recognized on the bazaar map and in the January issue of the Maadi Messenger. I'll also take the lead on deciding what goes into the raffle as opposed to the auction, and I'll also try to figure out, based on the donations we receive, how to group donated items into "theme baskets," which tend to sell better than single items. Pam, who is more creative and artistic than I am, will assemble the baskets, making them look way better than I could. As we go along, other tasks will get assigned to the person best able to handle them.
So I'm still very involved, but I no longer have the final responsibility. Marge is overtasked, so her leadership will be primarily in the form of instruction and answering questions. The rest of the burden is spread out among four of us. I'm getting the opportunity to learn without it feeling so much like "sink or swim."
This afternoon, Marge, Pam, and I went to a few shops to solicit donations. In just a few minutes, we collected an inlay box, a lamp, two perfume bottles, and a bunch of children's books. We also have a commitment for some gift certificates to a local restaurant--the owners told us he would give them to us after we come and enjoy our free lunch; they recently purchased the restaurant, changed a lot of things, and want us to have personal testimony of the good food and service. We're going out again on Sunday.
My attitude has totally changed. I'm looking forward to going on Sunday. I'm excited about the bazaar again. I no longer shy away from even thinking about it. It truly is a burden lifted from my shoulders. Praise God, or as they say here in Cairo, "al ham du lee lah!"