Read an interesting quote yesterday. So tell me: Do you agree or disagree?
The place where God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet. (Frederick Buechner)
So at first glance, I’m like, Yes. Yes! Yes with a smiley-face-with-heart-eyes emoji! Especially when it comes to my kids (which you saw in Tuesday’s post on ideas for teaching kids the spiritual discipline of service). I want them to not just drag themselves through service, like our stick-shift doing 45 MPH in second gear. I long for them to find that burbling well inside of them: their part of the Body of Christ.
But then—I think, say, of young motherhood. Where initially, I couldn’t wait to see the double lines on that stick, couldn’t wait to pick out maternity clothes, couldn’t wait to gaze into a rosy little face that somehow looked a lot like mine. “Deep gladness” could definitely describe so many parts of motherhood.
I remember that summer vividly; pivotally. I was on my way into high school, and had finally wrapped my hormone-charged little brain around Jesus’ servanthood, His death to self. I remember leaning over my cafeteria tray, discussing with my camp counselor what that looked like. She looked alarmed, I think, over my fervor (I’m sure my husband can relate): But Jesus doesn’t want us to be doormats, she countered.
At the time, I just couldn’t see it. What did Jesus hold back? The concept of “boundaries” seemed a post-modern reflex against living radical and poured-out. I didn’t see a whole lot about boundaries in the Gospels.
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?
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.
I’ve written before about this whole idea of our opportunities versus whether we’re actually called to do something. Oh—and about the true cost of my overcommitment.
And I’m happy to report that I have proudly mastered these concepts in full. And it seems I’ve still got a looooong. Long. Way. To go.
Long story short, this weekend found me sitting for 2.5 hours in the car with three kids—which is exactly as fun as it sounds—because of something to which I overcommitted in the first place. Before I left, I’d had to say no to seeing a friend for the last time before she left for two months; had to say no to a peaceful holiday with my family, despite my worn soul, due to my lack of foresight.
The funny thing, as I reflected in my consternation and yes, tears, is that I didn’t even think about saying no.
I’m amazed at how many Westerners respond to the question, “How’s life?” with, “Busy!” And I’ve gotta loop myself in there. Our spirituality ups the ante of our “opportunities”: Who wants to say no to something God might be putting in our paths?