Burn-Out is a Gift (Why You Should Stop Rushing)

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.

Rolling pin

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.

devotions

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. 

girl holding candle

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.

Photo credits:
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>
Woman doing devotions: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/shutterchik/232935406/”>shutterbugchik</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>
Rolling pin: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/alebaffa/11876364946/”>Alessandro Baffa</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>

Why I Left My Kitchen (A Story of Freedom)

stove-kettle2

I remember that day. It was a God-moment, where faith and life collide. I was Martha-standing at the stove with a wooden spoon and a threadbare heart. He came like a whisper, asking me to be more like Mary. “None of this performance matters to me” He said. “I already love you. I already accept you. Come and sit at my feet. Put your spoon down. I’ll give you what you really need to make it in this life.”

I stood there, confused. “Are you sure Lord? All of this work doesn’t make me a godly woman? This isn’t what you want?”

“I don’t want your striving, I want your heart. I don’t need you to follow this crowd. I want you to pursue my ways.”

I was searching for approval, something I’ve done all my life. As a little girl, I constantly tried to reinvent myself to gain approval from my classmates, my family, this world. I’d go back to the drawing board time after time, revising changes to my wardrobe, practicing new catch phrases, trying to stand a little taller under the crushing weight of rejection.

little green shoes

 

But rejection followed me like a stalker. That day in grade 6 when the teacher made me the laughing stock of the class, I thought I’d never be free. Little hands clasped tightly night after night, I would beg God to make the kids stop teasing me. I kept asking, What’s wrong with me, Jesus? Why don’t they like me? I know he was whispering it then too. “Julie, nothing is wrong with you. I made you and I love you just the way you are.” I know he must have been whispering it to me because I remember feeling His love. Before I understood the cross and Jesus’ sacrifice, before I knew that God’s forgiveness was always there, I felt His love. I felt it, but I never fully understood it.

Until that day. When I stood in the kitchen, hands clasped around a wooden spoon, stirring a pot of soup-the kind of food I made on my most tired days. I was asking, “What’s wrong with me, Jesus? I can’t do all the things they say I should do to be a godly woman. I’m failing at this Lord. I’ll never be good enough for you.”

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Instead of embracing the woman God made me, I tried to take on a man-made identity, a sort of super-woman agenda that I felt would guarantee me approval. I baked bread and increased my family size. I made changes to my wardrobe, homeschooled my children and did everything a good housewife and Christian mother should do.

But, I didn’t feel more loved, more accepted or approved. Instead I felt worn out and empty. And then all my doing had come to a screeching halt. Burn-out set in and I could no longer keep up with the Biblical Womanhood model.

My reinvention had failed, once again.

Jesus is a good teacher and burn-out has a way of making a woman ready to listen. As the Lord spoke love and acceptance into the deepest parts of my soul, I began to see more clearly the woman I’ve neglected all these years. I grieved for her and for the little girl she once was because we had both believed that in order to be loved, in order to be accepted, we had to be someone else.

The day God walked into my kitchen, He spoke freedom over me. Freedom from doing, from fake identity, from rejection. Freedom to be who He created me to be, to love outside of man-made boxes, freedom from a threadbare life. Freedom to walk out of my kitchen a little (a lot) more often to experience life more abundantly.

 

Julie-Anne

 

Can you relate? I’d love to hear how God is bringing freedom into your life! Share in the comments! xo

 

Photo Credits:
Stove/Kettle: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/antonnovoselov/4951016241/”>Anton Novoselov</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>cc</a>
Little shoes: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/starlights_/3560549434/”>starlights_</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/”>cc</a>
Soup: photo credit: <a href=”https://www.flickr.com/photos/reid-bee/6209908148/”>jazzijava</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>cc</a>