Navigating The Wilderness of Burnout

Navigating The Wilderness of Burnout

Posted on October 15, 2019
BY HANNAH STAPLETON, GRACE ATTENDER

I am perpetually tired. I either get enough sleep but still wake up exhausted or I struggle to fall asleep and wake up exhausted. The thought of going to work makes my heart start to race and I want to cry. I feel a strong, physical urge saying, “no you can’t go.” My house is in disarray because when I come home, I am so tired that I can’t manage the thought of picking up dirty clothes or straightening things up. Even reading, my go-to restful activity doesn’t help me feel any better.

This is my wilderness—burnout.

My job moves in a feast or famine cycle—we are either incredibly busy and pulling overtime or we have nothing to do. And that’s a cycle I’m having a hard time adjusting to. Our summer was frantic – between moving, going on our honeymoon (which brought some financial stress, I won’t lie to you), my husband transitioning jobs, and the craziest work season my department has had, I have nothing left. No energy. No resources. I am coasting by.

Friends, I am lost. This is my craggy wilderness. I make it through each day, feeling no better than the day before. It doesn’t matter if I exercise or don’t, if I eat healthy or McDonalds. All the self-care that’s supposed to help, just doesn’t make a difference.

I miss feeling like myself.

This sermon series couldn’t have come at a better time. I’m trying to do better about my church attendance, and this felt like God reaching down and grabbing my hand, reminding me that I am not forgotten or alone.

This past week, we sang two songs that jumped out me. “Yes I Will” by Vertical Worship and “Way Maker” by Leeland. As I sang these two songs that affirmed who God is, it felt like I was at my own oasis of Elim, just like the Israelites we’ve been reading about.

If God is a “Way Maker,” like I believe He is, then He has already made a way for me out of my wilderness. I may not see it. It may look like the rest of the landscape. But it is there. He made a way for me out of my life of sin and led to me a place of redemption. He has made a way for me out of other wildernesses before. He has made a way for me out of my burnout. He is Way Maker.

I don’t know what this way looks like to know if I’m on the right track. My only response, the only thing I have to offer up to God right now is just a simple phrase— “Yes I will.” Whatever He asks, whatever I have to do to get out of here, “Yes I will.” Just like the Israelites, if I’m going to get out of this, all I have to do is offer up a lifestyle of obedience. I have to trust the Way Maker and follow where He guides me.

I don’t know how I’m going to get out of this wilderness. I don’t know when I’m going to get out of this. But I trust my Way Maker. I cling to His history of faithfulness. I trust that He gives his children good gifts (Matthew 7:11) and that he will give me my manna—He will give me not just what I need to sustain but to thrive. I trust that He has begun work in me and that He is not in the business of abandoning His people. That even though I may not see a pillar of cloud or fire, that does not mean that He isn’t right beside me, listening and guiding me.

Comments

Mary Kaye, First of all, we love you. Thank you for the ways you've shared your story. We wish we had the perfect answer for timing. For some, the wilderness lasts most of their life, for others, it's seasons here and there. This past weekend, Barry preached on the Amalekites. He said: Look again at verse 12. Aaron and Hur “stood on each side of Moses, holding up his hands. So his hands held steady until sunset.” Symbolically, they helped Moses trust God when couldn’t on his own.This is why no Christ-follower is an island. We need one another. We need community. Because on your own, yes. Your trust can start to waver. When you’ve been battling that disease for years, it’s hard to keep trusting, isn’t it?When you’re depressed, again, that staff feels awfully heavy.When you have people constantly undermining you, how long can you really hold out hope? Your trust can falter in the wilderness. But in those moments - in the church? In the body of Christ? - your spiritual family can trust with you. Because you are not in this wilderness alone."You are not in this alone. We will walk with you, always. Some days it might mean us praying for you without you even knowing or hearing about it. Other days, it might look like someone going to bat for another person who has experienced something similar. Other days, it might look like someone sitting with you in silence and weeping alongside you. What we want you to know is that God has NOT forgotten you. He has NOT abandoned you. You have a community who is here to hold you up. We love you.

Posted by Grace Church on October 28, 2019 @ 9:41 am

Thank you for this. Not intending to be a bummer by this comment and question. I’ve had 30 years of wildernessing. I am beyond exhaustion. I’ve been close to hopeless and even accidentally dipped my toe in there. I was given a piece of personal prayer art that shows a road with me walking on a rocky path. Most important part was that the road was held up from below by people praying for me and the situation. I can’t even pray about it anymore. I’m tired of talking about it. Now what?

Posted by MaryKaye Wells on October 26, 2019 @ 2:20 pm