Feeling Weary?

Tired Woman

Every so often my passion for helping others just kind of sizzles out in an exhausted sigh.  It raises all sorts of uncomfortable questions at a time when my brain and body are begging for a break.  The questions, however, are necessary if I want to figure out why I’m feeling so tired.

Here’s my “go to” list of questions:  Am I happily serving others or am I doing some inner complaining?  Am I tired physically?  Spiritually?  Emotionally?  Is this burnout or a season of discouragement?  Do I base my serving others on the response I get short term?  Am I too results oriented?  That old buzz word, “co-dependent” flashes through my mind and I have to do a quick check to assess it.  Am I compulsively serving?  Is it feeding a need in me?   Exactly why am I serving others?  And what exactly have I been doing lately and is it stuff I’m really wired to do?

I went through this just a month ago.  It was the beginning of December. I groaned as I looked at my to do list.  I wanted to throw in the towel on everything, even the good stuff.  I didn’t have the energy or the desire to do any of it.   And I didn’t want to spend the energy going over all those questions, either.  Then I came across this.  Let me rephrase that.  Then I came across this, again:  “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Funny how this verse keeps popping up in my life. I’m pretty sure I was in my twenties the first time I picked up this particular clue phone and it’s rung often since then.  It was time to answer it yet again.

It took a good two weeks to contemplate all the questions and figure out why I felt so weary.  Actually it wasn’t a what but rather a who. Someone who had reached out to me for help was being rather unkind. I realized I was looking at temporary results based on someone who had other issues in their life that weren’t about me at all. Though the issues affected our relationship, there was no need for me to take it personally.

I acknowledged my hurt feelings, prayed about the relationship and put the person and their issues in God’s hands. I forgave them, and was able to let it all go. The weariness went away.

Which brings me to today.  I just returned to Chicago from D.C. after spending time with my daughter’s family.  I was able to help out as they welcomed their latest, a healthy baby boy.  It was a gift to be invited into their home and their lives for the better part of two weeks.  I’m so proud of my daughter’s efforts as a military wife and mom to their three children. She continues to amaze me as I watch her bloom and grow.

My time there resurrected all kinds of memories of raising my own kids, and honestly, they were tough memories.  Life with kids is a constant ebb and flow of wills, spontaneous laughter, daily disasters and joyous milestones. There are tedious chores and tender feelings and lessons that are only learned the hard way.  That goes for parents and for kids.   And, I’m learning, for grandparents! But that’s another post…

I came home with a strange mixture of exhilaration and exhaustion.  I wasn’t quite sure what that was all about until I read my Bible this morning.  In Luke 8, verses 43-47, is the story of the woman who had been bleeding for twelve years.  She touched the edge of the cloak Jesus was wearing and was instantly healed.  “Who touched me?” Jesus asked.  “Someone touched me; I know that power has gone out from me.”  The woman, seeing she couldn’t go unnoticed, came trembling and fell at his feet.  In the presence of all the people, she told why she had touched him and had been instantly healed.  Then Jesus said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace.”

I love this story for several reasons, the first being that Jesus persisted in wanting to see her, know her, hear her story.  He really cared about her. That’s love.  That is exactly what He has done for me.  He seeks me out.  He wants to hear directly from me what I’ve been going through.  And He heals my heart, over and over.  You know, I hope, that He cares exactly the same for you.  He wants to look in your eyes, know you and hear your story and pain and heal you and love you, over and over, again and again.

I also love that the woman shared the intimate details of her illness, regardless of the people around them.  She knew she could trust Him.  She was so grateful that she let nothing hold her back, not the crowd, not the social mores, nothing.  That is so inspiring.  But what struck me today was the power part, how power left Jesus.  I’ve always wondered about that.  How did He know power left him? (Power in this instance means inherent capacity to carry something out.)

Today I finally got it.  I gladly served my daughter and her family, but in giving to her, it took from me.  I was tired.  The same goes for my situation back in December. Giving takes from us and gives to others. In the process we lose power. We get tired. We feel worn out. And that’s okay. That’s what giving does when it comes from the heart. That’s what love is, that’s what love does.

But there’s more. After Jesus healed that woman, He continued on that day and raised a little girl from the dead. Just a few paragraphs later He sent out His disciples and “gave them power {that same kind of inherent power – ability} and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, and He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.  He told them, “Take nothing for the journey — no staff, no bag, no bread, no money, no extra shirt…”

Our ability to move forward comes as He provides.  We just have to show up. Say yes. Here I am. Send me. Which is what I did with my daughter. I showed up, not sure exactly what I could do that would help the most. Turns out it wasn’t the cleaning or watching the kids or any of the things I intentionally did that helped the most. It was who I am, the way I’m just wired to be a calming influence that meant the most to her. That, I can tell you with the utmost truth, is not something I can do on my own. That is simply a gift God has given me. He gave me that to give to her. He knew what she needed. Seeing that happen brought tears to my eyes.  Though I doubted my ability to be enough for her, God made me enough.  Showing up, giving, may come with a cost to us. But the most meaningful gift to others is Jesus shining through us.  Knowing that is both rewarding and exhilarating.

I had to smile as this all began to fit together when I read those verses today.  God began preparing me for my trip a month ago when I had absolutely no energy to serve anyone. He knew what was ahead and what I was meant to do.  Once again, He has my back, just like He has your back right now. He keeps preparing us, encouraging us, and giving us what we need to do the work before us. Sometimes, it’s as simple as a really good verse:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Advertisements

The Mentor Me Series – Step Number Three – Resource #2

MentorMeKickOffMentor Me Series – Step Number Three – Resource #2

Welcome back!   Were you able to assess your current situation and come up with a sound lesson from it that will help you as you move forward?  Why is it so helpful to you?

Let’s open in prayer:  “God, thanks again for this opportunity for us to be together. Give each of us the wisdom we need and guide our conversation. Help________to see, hear and understand this important next step as they desire to grow.  In Jesus name, amen.”

Resource #2- Your Contribution:  God 

You got that right – God is a resource!  While a list of how He helps would be virtually endless, we’ll stick to three critical ways that stand out.

First – This is mind-blowing:  someone is intentionally present on this earth specifically for you, to teach, to guide, restrain, convince, intercede and direct you in the best ways to go.   That’s right, for you.  There’s a lot more He does but for today, just try to fathom how cool that is.  Really.  I’d like to introduce you to Him – meet the Holy Spirit.  Jesus left the earth, but then almost immediately sent the Holy Spirit so we wouldn’t be alone without help.  Amazing – amazing!  You don’t have to breathe His name over a thousand times, you don’t have to meditate in a specific body position, you don’t have to sing the right song or go to the right church, be outside in nature, or journal to connect with God. You just have to pray it and mean it, “Yes, Jesus, I believe you died for my sins, I’m so sorry about them, and I accept your forgiveness and am open to You.”   Accept that forgiveness and the Holy Spirit will be faithful to help you always.  He’ll never leave you for the rest of your life.  You may not feel Him all the time, but He promises you, He’s with you.  (Hebrews 13:5)

Second – as you’ve noticed, I think prayer is important.  Many people aren’t sure what to say or even if God is listening.  However, if you mean it, He’s listening.  He wants relationship with you and He wants you in eternity with Him.  He’s using everything about your current circumstances to point you to Him. (See Acts 17:24-28) God is at work in you and around you all the time.  So, get in relationship with Him by talking to Him about what’s important to you.  Tell him about your goals and why they’re important to you.  Never minimize how much He cares about the details of your life. As you reach out to Him, you’ll grow to love Him and obey Him more and more.  Prayer is the beginning of a most beautiful relationship.

Third – The bestseller of all time.  8 billion copies so far, 100 million copies printed each year and readily available free online – the Bible.   The wisdom of the Bible applies to the issues of your heart, my heart and God’s heart.  Life, death and eternity are all addressed in detail, truthfully.  Wisdom doesn’t get any better from any other book, ever.   Read it regularly, (daily!) praying for wisdom and understanding and as you apply it to your life, you’ll see how dark and empty life is without it, how good and full life is with it.

Homework for this week –  Schedule a time to regularly pray and read your Bible.  Start with finding at least three verses or sets of verses in the Bible that offer some direction, wisdom or encouragement regarding your desired goal.  This is quite a simple process, even if you’re not familiar with the Bible.  Simply fill in the search field at the link below with key words you think might be helpful.  It may take some time to find the right verses, but again, even if you’re reading results that aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, you’re learning and you just might find more nuggets of gold.

   

http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance/

     A word of caution regarding reading the Bible when you’re in need of direction.  For instance, I came across a passage years ago that has encouraged me through many a storm:

Jeremiah 29:- “11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.14 I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity…”

This set of verses was directed to the Jews taken into captivity for seventy years. God was telling them to build houses and settle into the captivity and He was assuring them that He had a larger plan for their future that would give them hope again.  As much as I love this promise, it was written for a specific set of circumstances and I don’t want to apply it incorrectly or “claim” that only good things will happen to me now.  No, what I hold on to is the picture of the true nature of God to be wise and purposeful in the lives of His people.  I trust that wisdom and purpose in my life.  So, as you search, ask God for wisdom and understanding so you’re able to find the truth in verses that are applicable.

Resource #2- My Contribution:  God 

As I’m encouraging you on your journey, I’m keeping my eye on the bigger picture. I’m keenly aware that wherever you are today, either you or your circumstances will change, likely sooner than later.  We can only hope they will change for the better.  Accidents alter reality in a millisecond.  When illness strikes. losses pile up quickly.  Death may come unexpectedly to us or a loved one.  I want you to do the most important work now, work that will not only bring you closer to your goal, but ensure that no matter what happens, you’ll be just fine.

That’s why in my mentoring sessions, I ask people the three following questions:  1. How’s your prayer life? 2. How’s your Bible reading?  3. How’s your relationship with Jesus?  One of the most surprising elements of mentoring comes when I meet with people who are eager to grow yet aren’t taking the most elemental, basic steps towards growth.  They’ve never before made the connection between growth and success and their relationship with God.  Success is determined by what’s going on inside of you – not in your circumstances.  How on earth can you expect to have the joy, the peace, the deep sense of fulfillment, that comes from true success if you’re running on your own strength all the time?   You will run out – sooner or later you or your circumstances will fall short and He’ll be there, I promise you, He’ll be there.  But why wait till then?  “Begin now!” I’m urging.  Seeing that light bulb go on when a mentee makes the connection and begins to see results, now that’s awesome!   

And what is the most successful work in the world?  Some days it may be using your talents and gifts to the fullest measure possible, some days it may be showing selfless love to someone in need, some days it may be kissing the head of a child or changing a diaper or some days, it may be simply finding the courage through prayer to accept your painful reality with an attitude of  hope and perseverance – since your attitude is the only thing you have left to control when everything else around you is out of control.  Yes, these are true successes.  

God bless you as you persevere here on your journey!  Next time we meet we’ll go over some of my best recommendations for specific reading resources.