////This post was started soon after I moved back home… er, back to PA. God has showed me so much since then, but in the process of moving back and choosing to rest I am sharing this because maybe there are others who need to know that there IS life and purpose and hope in the middle of exhaustion.///
Ministry is HARD WORK.
It’s exhausting and excruciating and painful and glorious and fulfilling and has the potential to be chocked full of joy and sorrow simultaneously.
The past 2 years have been some of the most painful and most beautiful years of my short life thus far.
They have been the most exhausting 2 years of my life thus far.
I didn’t go into full-time “missionary” life expecting to come out so soon and so…tired.
It feels rather raw to write such personal details when all the feelings of burn out and vision-less-ness still make their presence known.
It’s not disappointment in the different ministries I worked under, though I know very deeply that ministry has an imperfect human side to it. It’s not disappointment in the people I spent hours and days and months with. It’s not disappointment in the daily and not-so-daily tasks I did.
I found I was disappointed with me.
There was this expectation placed on my heart that I should be all things to all people. I began to believe that people only like me or look up to me based on what I do and how well I perform and….
I began to live out of this idea.
So maybe I didn’t “begin” to do this, because somehow I looked back and realized I had been doing this performance-based thing for a very long time.
It’s just that I never had to notice it before now- before your character is tested, and you are responsible for things you know nothing about, and patience turns threadbare.
Living a performance-based life only gives you a stage and an audience.
Acting is hard work.
At some point you have to get off the stage and hide in the dressing room, because you see what a mess you really are.
I wanted to stay behind the facade of performance. It’s comfortable.
Jesus gently nudges me to leave the performance behind.
I want to stay because it’s easier, I think.
He uses a friend to ask, “What do you want?”
I want Him.
But it’s anything but easy.
Life is hard.
Not because I am a pessimist, but because accusations hurt and God doesn’t always give you nice cars and the soup always seems to burn sticky, black goo on the bottom of the kettle no matter how much I stir it.
I copied the following words of Amy Carmichael into my journal at the beginning of the year. They gave me this ridiculous hope for mankind, for myself.
“Looking back there is so much to grieve over. We can see nothing at all in ourselves to praise, but so much in our Savior. He has never given up hope for us. There is something very heartening in this. All that we see as sin, He sees, He saw, and far, far more. But “Thou knewest me before I was,” so nothing can surprise Him out of loving me… The Cross covers, the Blood cleanses, and His eternal love will keep that which we have committed unto Him, until that day…”
“That day” is beholding the glorious-ness of heaven.
I’m so glad my story, your story, doesn’t end with burn out and exhaustion and the feeling of hopelessness.
He never gives up on us when He would have every reason to.
These days of raw searching and vision refining don’t become easier.
They were never meant to be easy in the first place.
But Jesus is somehow, unexplicably, giving hope- that the story is far from over, and He DOES restore and He IS good.
///I do want to clarify that if you are burnt out, it does not mean you’re not spiritual enough or strong enough or ____ enough. I’m learning to take it as a signal to my mind, body, and soul that it’s time to rest, because work and rest are both biblical and I believe they hold equal value. I have spent a lot of time in the past week gazing at the picture above- It embodies what I believe He delights in- us being content to rest in His presence.///