When You Feel Battle-Weary and Burned Out
It’s a hard slog this season, I know. It’s the going-to-work-in-the-dark, coming-home-in-the-dark, not-enough-hours-of-daylight season. It’s the time of heavy limbs and bleary eyes, when putting one foot in front of the other, day after day, seems like an almost impossible task.
There’s always more to do than you’ve got time for and your head is a leaden blur of scattered thoughts and half remembered to-do lists. Restless anxiety and nagging guilt tug at the corners of sleepless nights.
Wasn’t I supposed to be happy and grateful?
Wasn’t I meant to be strong and courageous?
Wasn’t I supposed to be doing all of this brilliantly instead of barely managing to survive?
Wave after wave of do more, have more, be more crashes over you as you struggle to stay afloat. Life keeps insisting that you fight against the tide, again and again, without ever seeming to get closer to the shore.
The cold and the fatigue set in, seeping through your bones and down into your soul. You’re worn down and jaded; weary and burned out, I know. Nothing seems to work and it feels like no end is in sight.
Exhaustion so easily settles down into disillusionment and despair.
A small whisper comes from somewhere in the universe: this mixture of guilt and exhaustion and relentless activity — this is not how it’s meant to be. There must be a better way.
I hear it in church on Sunday.
What if you could
Just for one moment.
What if you closed your eyes and took one, deep breath?
What if you could be still long enough hear the words of Jesus:
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Doesn’t that sound like the best invitation you’ve heard in a long time?
I need that gift. I need the rest that comes from knowing I am loved and accepted just as I am. I need to know don’t have to work for approval or acceptance any more. I need to know it over and over again.
The prophet Isaiah puts it this way:
In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.
The fear of lack and the subsequent need for more and more (approval, power, money, acceptance, stuff) drives so much of what we do, but we are called to turn around and walk a different path.
Jesus says enough. He calls time on our striving and anxiety. In this moment, he reminds us, you’ve got enough, you’ve done enough, you are enough, because I’m enough.
When you take time out of an overwhelming schedule to rest, it is an act of faith. You are trusting that Jesus really is who he says he is. You’re trusting him with the finite amount of time you have and all the unfinished tasks. You’re refusing to let perfectionism rule you. You’re walking in the footsteps of the Father, who created on six days and rested on the seventh, who called what he did good, and knew when he had done enough.
In the very act of resting, you become a counter-cultural revolutionary, staking a claim in the things which are eternal, refusing to be driven by the voices of scarcity and greed. You’re a living demonstration that there are more important things than getting and achieving. You are pushing back the boundaries and creating space for peace and joy to flourish.
Making a deliberate choice to do things that will restore your mind, body and soul is a subversive and rebellious way of being in the world. It’s also essential and life-giving.
Sometimes, the best way to stand up and fight is to sit down and rest.