When you love what you do, you do it a lot. Even if it's emotionally and spiritually draining. When you care so much that you just can't let go, refuse to delegate, forget to care for yourself and don't rest, it will eventually catch up to you. Once upon a time, I believed that burnout only happened to people who were in the wrong profession or who didn't care enough. I know the opposite to be true because it happened to me.
As I sat in the therapist's office in tears, she put words to my overwhelmed emotions: "You're upset because you are physically, spiritually, and emotionally unable to do what you most love to do right now, aren't you?" I could only nod.
It had been a long time coming and therapy was only one of the stipulations given to me when I asked for a leave of absence. Another stipulation meant that I would be forced to process this alone. I went to the lake house belonging to a friend of a friend with a puzzle, a book or two, my journal, the bible, some Andrew Petersen CD's and a large container of Whoppers. God and I would hack away at this until I was healed. We had four weeks.
Because I had (practically) nobody to talk to but God, I started talking to Him out loud throughout the day's events. We went on a walk, sat on the porch, rode the four wheeler, worked the puzzle, argued (well, that was one-sided, but...), and just sat quietly. Imagine all the benefits of an imaginary friend but with the bonus factor of being real and divinely sovereign!! It was the closest I ever felt to the Lord. In my mind's eye we were sitting on the couch. I'd put my head on His shoulder and He'd draw me close and just hold me there. That is peace. That is comfort. That is love. I still go back to that mental image when I feel like He's abandoned me, because He's promised to never leave us or forsake us.
The church preached community that fights for the best in each others' lives, that can be counted on in time of need, that would challenge and rebuke you when necessary and then walk beside you until you found your way again. I longed for that kind of community.
There were no secrets. Our lives were open books into which the others could speak. They prayed, played, served, encouraged, confessed, rebuked, and asked the hard questions with me. They fought for God's best in my life and I did the same for them. Together we learned what it meant to live out of the freedom of the gospel, the freedom of knowing that I CAN'T do it on my own and that grace doesn't just apply to the moment of salvation but to every day of my life.
#4 Winter Retreat 2009
(This one will probably be long enough to require a post of its own, so for my readers with a short attention span, I'll stop here.)
January 26, 2011 06:00 PM PST
hurry at post that WR09 one... i'm interested to read about your outlook on that whole trip. :)
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