Lately, I have noticed that a large majority of people in my life are feeling burnt out. It transcends age, gender, career status and personality type. It appears that being worn out is now part of the shared human condition. As someone who approaches life with an intentionally positive perspective, this admission is hard. However, I cannot ignore that the collective “we” is currently feeling heavy.
I don’t believe in coincidences. So I wasn’t overly surprised when I was walking across campus, actively thinking about all the people in my life who are feeling especially heavy, and I ran into a colleague who works in counseling services.
We stopped and chit chatted for a few moments but I quickly jumped into what was really on my mind: Is everyone burnt out right now?! With a sad smile he responded that yes, so many are.
I felt funny asking why – because believe me – I am very aware of all the reasons we are or could be burnt out. But my curiosity wanted an answer beyond the surface-level obvious.
Nothing is Simple
The first powerful tid-bit of wisdom he shared was that even simple things are not so simple anymore. Running into the grocery store to grab a gallon of milk. Now, you have to grab your mask, make sure you follow the rules/policies, and carefully distance yourself while you head to the dairy cooler. No big deal, right? But when this is one of many examples of the way your everyday life has been turned on its head – simple tasks becoming complex – it makes sense why our minds are more tired. Mentally, we are having to think through so many factors and nuances then we used to.
Beyond the example of the grocery story, consider kids in school. It is not simple for them as they try to show up and learn. It is not simple for the educators who are trying to show up and teach. There are additional layers of rules and regulations that must be followed by everyone involved. Extra planning must take place. And, if you are in the shoes of the educators you are likely hearing from frustrated and anxious parents at a higher volume than year’s past. It is just not so simple anymore.
No End in Sight
The farthest I have run is a half marathon, which clocks in at 13.1 miles. I can tell you, when I saw that finish line in sight, and my family there cheering for me, I had a final boost of energy that carried me across that major milestone of completion. The finish line matters. With the heaviest and most consuming challenge we face, we do not have a finish line. We do not know when covid-19 will be “over” or what that could even look like. We are bumping up against the unknown in major ways.
It is hard to not know how much longer you must endure. It is deeply challenging to feel that life has more question marks then answers at this point. With no end in sight, this is burdensome.
I sincerely hope this insight helps you better understand whatever amount of heavy and hard you are carrying around these days. My goal in sharing the insight is to help you feel seen and affirmed. These days are hard. However, I still emphatically suggest that we push to embrace all that can be wonderful during this challenging time.
The bible is so clear that we can always hope. There are no qualifiers and * with footnotes that provide the exemptions for when hope is in order. No, hope is something that we are invited into because of the love and sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. It is because of Jesus we can hope during these heavy, seemingly never-ending times.
One of my favorite scriptures is found in Matthew 11:28-20:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
When we are weary we are invited in. Jesus himself has promised us that we will find rest for our soul.
Isn’t that what you are ultimately craving? Soul-level rest that renews your tired spirit? Yes – that is what I crave.
It may sound easier said than done but the beauty of the gospel is that this really is that simple. It is as simple as reading His word and reflecting on His truth. It is as simple as reflecting in worship as you move through your day. It is as simple as bringing all that weighs on you to the foot of the cross, through prayer. Jesus makes it that simple.
And, with all that is so painfully complicated these days, shouldn’t you run to that which is simple, soul-filling, and eternally redeeming?
It Had Been a Day
Lately, I have found myself in the situation of needing a soul-refresh more than I’d like to admit.
I can recall a day where I was a little late to work because of struggles getting the kids to school. Rushing to my desk, I noticed I had already missed calls at my extension. My cell phone was buzzing with incoming text messages. Our team was about to complete the final major project of the year, which required me being on my a-game all day. Sitting there, I had no energy for all that was needed from me.
I took a deep breath, and fired up a favorite praise and worship song; listening, soaking and allowing the moment to be filled with my weary prayer. In that moment, my circumstances did not magically change. Rather, my soul’s posture changed and was now reoriented to Jesus. My identity and strength was derived from Him – not my circumstances. I felt a peace that I could press on, even if things were challenging.
This is one way that reset and practice spiritual self-care when I find myself in a place of struggle. I find that the stress and challenges become less overbearing when I focus my eyes on Jesus – I stop sinking.
We may not know what the finish line for our current earthly afflictions looks like. But, as followers of Jesus Christ we can be absolutely certain about our finish line in Him. We are heaven-bound and living in redemption.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10)
Pain and hardship are a given because of this broken world. But God’s redemption is also a given because of his all-encompassing, without ceasing love for us.
God’s love, as demonstrated through Jesus, is what our souls deeply crave and desperately need. It really is that simple.