Exhaustion is unraveling me, and what I’m discovering is unhealthy.
I like my fully-checked off to-do lists. I like helping people. I like the feeling of accomplishing something. I like making people happy.
That doesn’t sound too bad, right? Not too bad until more to-do lists keep coming, people left and right start asking for this and that, and you still want to make them happy, only this time your heart is relying on its own strength now. The people around you are getting tired too, so asking for help isn’t an option.
So you keep on. Keep on keeping on. On and on and on and on, until burnout hits you, crashes over you, and you can’t see clearly anymore. What you started with isn’t here anymore.
Your week starts on Sunday. So much hope, so much light, so much grace, you say so many thanks.
Monday is fills you with so much to do, you’re left with so little time to eat, to rest—to breathe. You’ve started your week weak.
You go through the next day looking at story after story, you don’t notice your heart is starting to be envious of others.
The sun sets on your Wednesday, you endure work, relationships, and during the commute home, you exhale a sigh.
By Thursday, you’re too worn out, you don’t even utter a word of gratitude.
I don’t know how many times I’ve thought of this:
“God, can I just go away from everything”
But if He says yes, I’m not sure if I really can go.
All these things I’m carrying weren’t imposed by terrible, slave-driving bosses. No command to do more work came from my family. Neither are they from my church community trying to commission me, and hone my gifts.
No. It’s not the people around me. It was me. The burnout was the result of me trying to do all those things in a day, in a week.
Last year, God told me, “this is not for you.” Yes, I listened, but did I obey? Did I apply His Word in my life?
I took on more work, which only ended with other people doing more for me.
I kept giving more yeses to the point of having to say no to what really matters, to Who really matters.
I forgot how to take real rest, because I wasn’t dependent the Author of rest. I took my days off to work on more work. I became self-reliant, self-sufficient, self-absorbed. I locked myself in the prison of me, me, me.
I couldn’t stop working, because I thought that the world would stop turning if I did. I thought businesses would fail.
Control became my idol. I would hold my praise until I see the outcome of what I’m working on. I wouldn’t rest until I saw evidence of progress.
This is the tight space I’ve created. I clean my desk or my room every day before I begin working. No matter how spotless they are, there would still be so much clutter in my heart.
I was drowning. I was weary, tired, worried.
Come up for air.
I didn’t hear these words exactly, but I kept listening. I kept pressing in.
Slowly, he started revealing. That before we can come up from where we are, we need to let go of what we’re carrying. That we come up, when we kneel down before Him.
We grow higher in the deeper digging, and burying.
Come up for air, you’re not drowning.
His right hand reached in, holding my heart gently as I give it to Him, “This is what I wanted.”
He didn’t need my accomplishments, He didn’t want my list of done things.
He wanted my nothing. He wanted my heart.
He’s not after my consistent performance, financial success, or a well-curated social media feed.
He’s after my surrender.
Beloved, our sweet Jesus, God’s only begotten Son has already spoken, “it is done.”
It is done.
And you are still becoming.
Take one day. Take an afternoon. Take an hour each week.
Start stopping. Start stopping to enjoy the view. Start stopping to say thank you. Start stopping to smile at babies, to smell flowers. Start stopping to listen to the sound of winds, and rain. Start stopping to watch raindrops form veins on your windowpane. Start stopping your feelings from taking control of you. Start stopping your thoughts from blurring the beauty that’s within you.
Start stopping to look up to behold the One who loves you dearly. The One who died for you, the One who helps you, and comforts you.
Start stopping to read of redemption stories, in pages, and in faces.
One start, one stop at a time.
Start with stillness.
You are still becoming.