I struggle with burnout. My energy is almost never equal to the task. I exist in a chronic state of having to generate energy in order to expend energy. I know the things that recharge my energy, but the drain has been so severe for so long, that even doing the things that recharge me is like putting one syringe of gas into an empty tank.
Burnout, although it can coexist with depression is not the same thing as depression. It is not the same thing as chronic fatigue. It has, however, increased my understanding and compassion for people who battle with those.
Burnout has also caused me to rethink what it means to be in relationship with God while being truly and desperately weak all the time. Burnout is the place where I continue to experience the faithfulness of God in ways I never imagined (mainly because I had imagined that God’s faithfulness would mean I’d be able to do everything easier 🙂 ). Burnout is where I am learning what it means to bring glory to God in a place that looks anything but “victorious” from external standards.
I will probably write more in the future about my experience of burnout. I’m still trying to figure out the “shape” of it myself. I share these things today, because they are the backdrop for the prayer I came back to this morning. I have prayed this prayer many times over the last several years. It was written by Catherine Parr (last wife of Henry VIII), and I discovered it in Near to the Heart of God: Meditations to Draw You Closer (p. 288):
Lord Jesus, help me to want what is most pleasant to you. You know what is best for me. Give what you will, when the right time comes, and in the quantity you prefer. Do with me as you please. Put me where you will. I am in your hands. I am your servant. I am ready to do whatever you command. You are the true peace of my heart and the perfect rest of my soul.
If you want me to be in light, I will praise you. If you want me to be in darkness, I will also praise you.
If you comfort me, I will bless you. If you allow me to be troubled, I will bless you.
O Lord, make possible by your grace that which is impossible by my nature.
Sometimes I think I am going to hold together, but when a little trouble comes, it tears me apart. Good Lord, you know my weakness, my frailness. Have mercy on me.