It seems as though God works in me in themes. The day after I started this read, I went with my friends Robin, Dawn, and Beth to go and visit our friend Angie who has just had a baby. Our question on the way there is, "How do you care for yourself to avoid burnout?"
That has been the question I have been asking myself for a long time. How do I do that? How do I sustain here? How can I manage under the load I have been blessed with to have a place and time for filling up? It is so hard! And yet, as I face my fourth year here in Ghana, it becomes more and more realistic for me...if I don't figure out the answer to this question, I will not be able to continue my ministry here.
Wayne's book has been a powerful reminder of how much I operate out of a place of emptiness. He talked about reaching his breaking point and visiting a doctor who told him that his levels of serotonin were depleted. When the body runs out of serotonin, it begins to run on adrenaline, fueling the body with a chemical that is only supposed to used in "emergencies". But, we get hooked on the adrenaline. We don't stop to rest. We don't recognize the weariness. We don't see the warning signs of depression...stress...withdrawal. And then, we are done for.
Wayne talked about seeing his need to slow down and he decided that one week ought to do it to fix the burnout. He went and spent a week on a silent retreat. The first thing he noticed, removed from media and everything we use to fill our time, was how badly his body began to hurt. The adrenaline had masked his bodies response to weariness and when he began to rest (body, mind, and, soul), his adrenaline levels went down, leaving him in physical pain as he began to realize how far he had worn himself down.
It is bringing up questions with me. What are my daily rhythms of life and do they care for the needs of my body, mind, and soul? Or am I in such a place that my moments of rest only serve as a brief withdrawal and the adrenaline kicks back in?
This morning's Jesus Calling read:
"Worship me only, I am King of kings and The Lord of lords, dwelling in unapproachable Light. I am taking care of you! I am not only committed to caring for you, but I am absolutely capable of doing so. Rest in me, My weary one, for this is a form of worship.
Though self-flagellation has gone out of style, many of my children drive themselves like racehorses. They whip themselves into action, ignoring how exhausted they are. They forget that I am Sovereign and that My ways are higher than theirs. Underneath their driven service, they may secretly resent me as a harsh taskmaster. Their worship of me is lukewarm,becauseI am no longer their First Love.
My invitation never changes: 'Come to me, all you who are weary,and I will give you rest.' Worship Me by resting peacefully in My Presence."
May I cling to my First Love instead of running to the idol of busyness (sometimes portrayed as "ministry") and find myself again and again in His Rest.