The Problem: Running on Empty
How is the pace of your life affecting you?
I would be willing to bet that you, like a myriad of your peers, have commented that it sure isn’t slowing down.
Many people feel flung, full-throttle, from event to event (or crisis to crisis) with barely a chance to catch their breath in the hard-won quiet spaces in between.
I can relate.
Life drains us like a colander. At times, we have ourselves to thank because of poor choices or lack of boundaries. Other times, through no fault of our own, we come up empty before we run out of hours of day because multiple stressors and crises converge at once, and with each one, we feel more of our vital resources draining away.
The long-term result, for far too many people, is running on empty.
Disturbingly, responses to this state of chronic depletion include glamorizing it (such as in popular blingy hats or t-shirts that state sentiments about running purely on caffeine), spiritualizing it (applauding those who chronically work to the point of burnout in church work), and normalizing it (”everyone else lives the same way…”).
Living in a state of chronic and utter exhaustion should not be considered normal, super-spiritual, or desirable.
Donna M. White, LPCI, CACP says in her article “Avoiding Emotional Exhaustion” that emotional exhaustion happens when we exceed our capacity for emotional stress. Signs of it include:
“Low tolerance to stress or stressful situations; inattentiveness; lack of motivation; and physical fatigue.”
Does any of that sound like a prescription for effective living? It doesn’t to me, either! So why in the world do so many people embrace it as normal? Seeing the same look of desperate exhaustion mirrored back through the eyes of our peers should not be translated as “this is how it should be”.
The Remedy: The Art of living nourished
No one else is responsible for my overall well-being.
It’s not the job of the government, my family, my friends, my doctor, or my pastor.
The care of my three-part being (spirit, soul, and body) is up to me.
The problem is, if I neglect self-care in any of those areas, I will not feel the impact alone. Others will also suffer.
If I go to the gym daily and eat a clean and healthy diet but starve my spirit so that it shrivels up like a raisin, I can be sure that those around me will feel the effects.
I can spend most of my day reading the Word, praying, and ministering but if I neglect my body – filling it with junk food, gallons of soda or sugary tea, and never get enough sleep – I am not making choices that will likely benefit my children or the Body of Christ long-term. If I desire to live to see my kids graduate, marry, have children, and fulfill God’s plans for their lives, then I need to take care of my body like I want it to last more than 5 more years.
My soul (mind, will, and emotions) needs care as well. I can challenge my mind and inspire it, improve my education, better my relationships, and grow in many different ways if I choose to do so.
Growth is a by-product of health. Health, in an overly simplistic sense, is the result of keeping the right things in and the wrong things out.
That is what we must do for ourselves.
Self-Care Does Not Equal Caring Only For Yourself
The issue with self-care is that it is either viewed as too self-oriented or becomes an end unto itself.
Let me be totally clear here: self-care is not selfish UNLESS it becomes an excuse for self-indulgent living (one of the things Jesus accused the Pharisees of).
Self-care is caring enough about what God has entrusted me with AND about the others around me to live a nourished life SO THAT I have enough reserves to live on and to share.
The “so that” is the ticket.
Not “so that” I can be perfectly comfortable and happy all day and never go out of my way for anyone because that would involve inconvenience, but “so that” I can fulfill what God has called me to do.
Yes, we should spend ourselves on behalf of the Kingdom. But when we are spent, we need to nourish spirit, soul, and body and be refilled.
Mark 6:31 says: “But so many people were coming and going that Jesus and the apostles did not even have a chance to eat. Then Jesus said, “Let’s go to a place where we can be alone and get some rest.” (English Contemporary Version)
Jesus frequently went off by Himself to be alone with the Father and to refuel after draining ministry sessions.
Do you hear the voice of Jesus calling you away to be with Him and to rest?
Choose to Live a Nourished Life
Life probably isn’t going to slow down or get any easier. It’s time to pace ourselves for the duration so we can finish strong!
If you needed someone to give you permission to build self-care into your schedule SO THAT you can live out your calling more effectively, then consider yourself energetically encouraged to do so.
What are some of the reasons we ignore this need? Is it easier to continue living on the fumes of stale coffee than it is to shove some items out of our boat? Does guilt play a role in keeping us from caring for ourselves so that we can better care for others? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment if you’d like to share your thoughts or ideas for self-care, and let’s talk about how we can encourage ourselves and those we love to begin to live nourished lives.
“Gracious Heavenly Father, you see each one reading this post, and you know all they are trying to juggle. Draw individual to Yourself in the invitation to come away to be with You and to rest in You. Help us to see where we can build nourishing routines into our schedules so that we can refuel in order to live more effectively for you. We are so grateful to You for your loving care. Amen.”
Now go build some nourishing routines! 🙂
With faith, hope, and love,