A Generous Grace

ideas on practical spirituality and loving each other

Tag: caregiver

An Open Letter: When You’re Tired of Doing the Right Thing

faithfulness tired of doing the right thing

I was there just this past Saturday, too. Felt like it had been a year of keeping my head down, doing the right thing with a hopeful smile. Or maybe some tears. I’ve mentioned this last year my struggles with feeling powerless; with the tension of not living some dreams.

I may have even scrawled the phrase tired of a “Yes, sir” life in my journal this past weekend.

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When Helping Hurts [You], Part III: When Aisha Died

helping hurts

The phone connection sounded a bit like Oliver, one of my closest Ugandan friends, was crushing newspapers on the other end; I held the phone an inch from my ear. But I didn’t miss what made my hand fly to my chest: “Aisha…she passed. It was just too late. Things were already too bad.”

Aisha. Perhaps you remember her from this photo, snapped from my phone two and a half months ago, outside a mud hut in the slums of Namuwongo. She’s the young mother of four kids. A twenty-something.

namuwongo family

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Deep(ly) Fried, Part II: Processing Burnout (…and am I Playing the Martyr?)


Missed Part I? First, grab it here.

When you felt like you were finally surfacing from burnout–or as I called it, tired-mad, I might tell you what I found out. That sometimes burnout is simply burnout, because life is hard. And even though God never gives us more than He’ll give us strength to handle (He says so here and here), it still can feel like a rightful scraping-the-bottom-of-the-barrel, ta-da-I-survived type thing. (Whether it’s godly or not to be burned out is another post for another time, perhaps. But pretending it’s not there doesn’t really help.)

Questions that may help as you process burnout

  • How have my responsibilities challenged me? How have they changed me?
  • What activities “give me life” after I’ve helped someone?
  • Who do I feel comfortable debriefing with?
  • What questions do I find myself asking—and what lies am I tempted to believe (“I’m the only one who can help.” “I can’t afford to rest.” “Jesus wouldn’t say no here”)—when I am burdened by helping someone?
  • In what Scriptures do I find hope and comfort when I am helping someone? (I like Isaiah 55:1-3.)
  • (One of my favorites:) What would a compassionate friend say to me about this? (I often afford more compassion to others than I do to myself.)
  • What sense of purpose and meaning do I find in my work? What do I love about what I do?
  • What do I do when I am not handling stress well? What does the “stressed” version of me look like?
  • What methods, people, and practices have helped me in the past?
  • What do I think God thinks about my work?
  • What questions do I have for God because of my work?

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Deep(ly) Fried, Part I: Burnout

I glimpsed it in the slight tightness, the fatigued determination of her face that day: that distinct weariness that comes from herding toddlers and preschoolers 24/7. Having worn that particular look for approximately eight years myself, I know it well.

And though there are few exhaustions like young-mom exhaustion—I felt my own version of tired-mad that week. (Um. My family may have felt it, too.) One of my favorite takeaways from the movie Home were those hybrid-emotions, like sad-mad. Anger is a secondary emotion anyway, right? We feel angry usually because we were first hurt; afraid; grieved. Depleted, taken for granted; so very tired. So I have to plunge my fingers into my anger, exploring a bit.

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