Last summer, I had had 4 glorious days to be at a cabin right on the lake. This was going to be my writing retreat, full of creativity and fruitfulness, productivity and results! (Hmm, sounds restful, doesn’t it??). I was hoping for one of those times where I had extended time with the Lord and rest in the mornings complimented by fruitful afternoons writing and being inspired by my surroundings. Instead, I had written nothing, well until the last day, just a few hours before leaving. This was my reflection that I look back on as a reminder of how weariness can affect us:
I am so weary…but why? I’ve had 2 months off from events - no performing, gigging, speaking, preparing. Yes, I’ve helped my husband walk through total hip replacement surgery which has required me to be available 24-7 for a couple weeks, but he is doing pretty well now, well enough that I was able to go on retreat for a few days. I do watch over my mother as well. I fill her meds every week, talk with her almost daily and manage any emergencies that arise, but she is at a senior living facility where all the rest of her needs are met. My oldest son, his wife and child have moved into our place recently - transitioning between homes. Yes, there are adjustments to be made, but I’m thrilled they are here. I am grateful for the opportunity this affords us to grow deeper in our relationship with one another. So far, the time has been a blessing. A gift…One of those decisions that will change the course of our lives as the Lord opens up our hearts in deeper ways toward one another.
So why am I so weary? I am mature enough to know that each of these elements require energy, time, commitment and emotional expenditure. I also realize that my husband’s longstanding illness beyond this recent surgery has been a difficult season for us both. In addition, I have been working very hard until my recent break, and the work I do have does not come to fruition unless I make it happen. I.e, there is no consistent paycheck to count on, no work next month unless I make the necessary contact and arrangements to see it happen. In light of that, I have worked hard on self-care and being faithful to the things that fill me - time with Jesus, exercise, diet, chiropractic and massage, time for fun, time w/Jeff and my family. But the weariness lingers. Deeper longings arise.
Lord, I miss you, I miss our conversations, hearing Your voice. You say, “I’m here”. I feel like I’m here and You’re here somewhere, but more like we’re in the same vicinity, but not really communing. I’m afraid, God. “Go on,” He says, tears start to flow…Lord, the burdens I feel are big picture ones and I don’t know the answers. I’m afraid of getting old and not having the capacity to continue at the pace I’ve been living at. I’m afraid of our future and how we will provide for ourselves in old age, I’m afraid of being alone and I’m afraid of being a burden to my kids. I know the whole story about You caring for the sparrows, that if you take care of them, providing shelter -where they will live and what they will eat, how much more you will care for us…But somehow I still feel like it’s up to me. I see myself putting my trust in You all the time, but I am still making my lists, and doing my best at problem-solving. Even this summer, trying to change up my approach to reach more people with the things you’ve shown me, but who am I really? My heart is to be honest - full disclosure but I’m just like everyone else - drained with all the problem solving, but afraid to trust You. I know that’s the answer, but the reality of it alludes me.
On the second day here I noticed something profound and scary. I was so grateful for the opportunity to be here the first day…what a gift! But on day 2 I felt a growing numbness and a resentfulness that this was something I could never have or afford. I felt jealous of those around me who could afford such pleasures. I was spiraling downward into the abyss of self-pity. In fact, though I was just becoming aware of this, it had been creeping in for a while. Subtle and toxic, self-pity hinges on all the things we don’t have instead of the blessings we do. It focuses on our lack instead of our abundance. I felt ashamed yet grateful for the Lord’s movement in me toward self-disclosure. How easily we hide from our deepest self. I have learned over the years that to draw closer to God intrinsically means that I must be willing to draw closer to myself. The Lord spoke clearly, “I want you to just BE with what IS in your life right now. Not frantically try to solve it. I want you to acknowledge it and allow me to hold it with you.”
So began the laying down and sitting with the things I mentioned earlier. And the tears. I sat with my longings - for Jeff to return to full health and be able to do things again with me; for my ministry to reach a broader audience and bring hope, insight and encouragement as well as become self-sustaining; for my children to experience the life-changing gifts of the Lord. I allowed the depths of my feelings of being overwhelmed, inadequate for the job, fears of the future…all to come forward. I allowed my circumstances - the things I couldn’t change, the things that keep me up at night to just BE. And the Lord drew near.
He held me, He comforted me, He reminded me that He is there. Not just “somewhere in the vicinity” but closer than my breath. He didn’t promise to take away my troubles, but He did promise that He would always be with me and provide for our needs. And though I still have way too much trouble trusting God in this area, I can look back over the whole of our lives and say without a doubt that He has truly kept His promise. Financial gifts we didn’t expect, beautiful places to vacation or retreat to (such as the one I am at right now), above and beyond our needs.
So, why am I so weary? Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30, “Come to me all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, for I am humble and gentle at heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear and the burden I give you is light.”
I’ve always loved the first half of this verse, but the second half has often weighed me down. I want the rest He offers but I don’t want the Lord’s yoke and burden too! Isn’t mine enough?? But the Lord knows what we can truly carry. He is asking us, me, to trade my burden for His. You see, His work is already finished! He already knows our stories, our shortcomings and sin, our future, our needs, our desires, our longings. He knows what we can handle and what we can’t. He hasn’t called us to do everything, only something. He hasn’t asked us to carry it all, only what He has given to us. What have I taken on that He hasn’t called me to carry? What am I choosing to carry by myself that He longs to carry for me? How can I deepen my trust in the Almighty who already knows how it will end?
I think it begins with today. And allowing God to BE with us and what IS in our lives. I think if I summed up my greatest fear and the reason why I have felt so overwhelmed is that I think I am alone. Alone to carry the weight of my burdens and responsibilities, alone to figure out my future and make sure I do it right. But I am NEVER, EVER alone! Isaiah 41:10 says, “Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.”
Today, I leave this place knowing once again that I am never alone. I leave humbled by my self-pity and lack of trust but renewed by the faithfulness of God to meet me over and over again and reassure me of His Love and care.
Where are you at today? Are you weary and overwhelmed? Take a few moments to write down all that you are carrying. Invite the Lord to sit with you and help you recognize the deeper things you might miss as well as the things you cannot change. Consider not only those situations that are currently pressing in on you, but also the long-term circumstances that have surrounded you for a season. What are you feeling? What are your fears? Your longings?
After you have acknowledged these things, allow the Lord to comfort you and give you the strength to release your grip to just BE with what IS.