Anxiety & Depression, Grief, Self Navigating The Wilderness of Burnout

By Hannah Stapleton

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.

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