I want to be done. This burn-out thing is getting old and I want to move on. I want to have stamina for the things I love to do. I long for a sharp mind and a strong body.
My body begs for rest and more rest.
Burn-out feels like the quiet extinguishing of my flame, a silent thief.
Back when I thought that for a woman to be biblical she had to become empty and exhausted, I ignored all of my own needs. Instead of creating spaces in my life for me to breathe, I suffocated myself with tasks and ideals and it never made me more biblical.
Maybe that’s the real thief. This running around, emptying ourselves, this belief that being “biblical” has more to do with our handiwork than God’s work in our lives. We give and give and give and it’s true. Sacrifice is godly. But, the emptiness that comes from doing it all, it throws water on the very embers of our soul that God intends to fan into flames.
And that’s the difference.
Burn-out is teaching me that. But, my anxious soul is rushing this slow process of restoration and refreshment. And, every time I rush out of that process, my body protests and hijacks me out of my busyness and back into forced rest. Yeah, I’ve tried to go AWOL a few times. But, my assignment is rest. It’s learning to slow down and stop rushing. It’s experiencing the glory of the fall colours and the tickle of a snowflake melting on my face. It’s sitting with my toddlers and cuddling over and over again. It’s letting the dust settle on the things I was busy doing and dusting off the things I’ve been neglecting. It’s love and life on a slow simmer.
That spring, years ago when the earth rushed out of winter and into summer (think t-shirts and shorts in a time when we typically shovel snow), the blueberries died and the apple orchards failed to yield an abundant harvest. I think that’s what happens when we rush. We might feel the excitement of the warmth of the sun but all of it is premature and causes the best harvest to fail.
I’m trying to remember this.
God is good at reminding me how, that day so many years ago when I was in premature labour at 24 weeks with my first baby, I was rushing. I wanted to have my baby that day because I couldn’t wait to meet him. The nurse on duty understood that, as well as the risks and losses we would be forced to confront if our baby came at 24 weeks. Her determination and patience stopped my labour and forced me to do exactly what I needed to: wait. I think I may have even felt a bit annoyed.
All these years later, I’m still annoyed. Annoyed that I have to wait again.
The thing is, burn-out is not what extinguishes your flame. Burn out is your body’s way of protecting what’s left of the embers. If you are patient, burn-out will teach you how to really live your best life and will, like that wonderful wise nurse, stop you from rushing through this life, protecting you from losing things like strength, time, love, family, faith.
Think of it this way. In the story of Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and Martha who fussed in the kitchen, one chose rest and the other chose busyness.
Which will you choose? (Remember, the dishes can wait).
Have you or are you experiencing burn-out? What did you learn? How did it change you? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.
Woman holding candle: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/calamity_photography/4726912910/”>Www.CourtneyCarmody.com/</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>