"Burnout is not reserved for the rich or the famous or the profoundly successful. It's happening to so many of us, people across all kinds of careers & lifestyles. If you're tired, you're tired, no matter what. If the life you've crafted for yourself is too heavy, it's too heavy, no matter if the people on either side of you are carrying more or less ...and if you, like me, have also internalized some twisted-up theology that this healing and restoration that Jesus offers are not for you, that you're a server in this great restaurant, a crew member abroad this lovely ship, then you are destined to exhaust yourself, tugging on the bootstraps of your soul, lifting something that was never meant to be carried alone."
Shauna Niequist, Present Over Perfect
Last night I felt the match in my hand. I struggled with myself, resisting the urge to light myself on fire for other people. And so it goes, the desire to be a light for others can completely snuff your own until it is much too dark and damp in there for you to even find or light the match.
Instead, I chose to bring my holy rage to Jesus. For me, this looks like putting my headphones on in a room with the door shut and speaking to Jesus through body movements. Most of the time, this just looks like dancing but sometimes it looks like I'm caught in a tornado or reaching the point of insanity.
At first, it didn't seem like bringing that holy rage to the altar did much but suddenly, it was like a light switch went off. I understood on a deeper level that I cannot take other's burdens nor can I be one.
I know, it's a thin and uncooked-noodle-line to walk on when I say "I don't want to be someone else's burden." I understand well enough that this line can snap at any point that I believe my sadness or grief isn't as great as someone else's & so causing me to think my burdens should be bottled up...
However, that's not the "being a burden" I'm speaking of...
At times, we have this way of believing that just because we can feel someone's pain or see a glimpse into the potentional of our future with them that we know how to get them from point A to B safely, alone and with just our tiny human will. We assume if we impose our will that they will be better off.
But Jesus never healed what he was not asked to heal.
He only helped when he was asked.
When I was in Hawaii, I heard this phrase loud and clear, "God never asked you to sacrifice that Laura."
I had been living life through the lens of sacrifice rather than offering. My gift is not entirely sacrifice, it's also offering.
The truth is, I do have a lot to offer. If you sit with me for long enough, you will know that I have more to give than I have to take.
Furthermore, I've been so accustomed to witnessing the art of "giving" as a material or "doingness" exchange. Like when someone gives you a meal or fixes your faucet for you. I know, deep down, that these types of offerings are not the ones God gave me to give to others. So, then, I'm left with a perplexing question, how do people know they exist????
I'm learning that I don't need to become the fire for others, I just need to kindle it.
The other day I woke up with this prayer in my head, "Dear friend, I pray that God knows exactly what He is doing with you and that you lovingly get out of His way so that He can show you the truest potentional that lays dormant within you."
I do not know exactly who I was praying for. I suspect that it was more of a nudge or an example of praying than it was a direct prayer to anyone special. Jesus, it seems,is teaching me how to pray through Him to God and how to not impose my human will upon the power of the divine.
Here's the thing with our human will; most of the time it is messy and unorderly. This explains further what I meant by "I can't be a burden for someone else." When we impose our will, we may make the situation worse than it was originally intended to be.
Lovingly, I choose to get out of the way and above all, watch and tend to myself. If I'm being completely honest, I do not trust humans but I trust God. I don't even trust my own human!
Trusting God is not about performance. It's not about how you show up to church or how many posts you write about Jesus a day. These acts are measures of man-made trust so that from one human to another, we see where others are on their journey. Yet, these acts will burn you out quickly if you're more concerned about showing your love for God rather than receiving the love of God.
I'm learning that when we take time to receive the love of God, we begin to hear distinctly when He is asking us to sacrifice verses when he says 'mine, not yours.'
There will be times when our offering is indeed intended to be a sacrifice but I'm understanding that God needs me to distinguish the timing and the act better.
When we are trying to perform rather than receive, we miss the cue and the timing. We sacrifice a part of ourselves that God has not asked us to--whether that is turning our life upside down to help a family member who continuously makes the same poor choices or continuing to lead all community functions because no one else will
Listen, sometimes, God is saying "You're not giving them a chance TO step up because you're imposing your will upon My will. Let the community play crumble and stop being the hero."
God always means well but we have to give God time to let the "well" ripen--like good fruit does.
I'm learning when I feel the need to pick the wounds, I need to self-talk as if I'm in conversation with God; because I am.
"Okay, God, I hear you. I'm going to let that one go and just hold space."
10 minutes later [cause I went into another spiral of how I need to light myself on fire to show others the way]...
"Yup, I am still here God. I see the table in the room, the clock on the wall, the lampstand. I'm here, I'm going to let that go again."
With time, this process will become easier, I hope. In the meantime, it's comforting to know that I can come back to a conversation endlessly with God because you know, He isn't going anywhere!
My tactics may not work for others but I hope that when the spiral begins for you that you can breathe deeply into this realization:
Being God's servant doesn't mean you will be working the floor for every meal. Check your tray before you deliver. You may find that God has taken that offering/sacrifice off of your plate for the benefit of all.
🙏 With love and grace.