There is a little-known creature that lives in just about any habitat on the planet that has a very unique quality. The female of this creature can often be seen working furiously at building her nest, often into the late hours of the night when predators are most active. She will ignore every need until her nest is exactly perfect. Hungry, tired, frazzled, and burning out, she will keep working on her nest until she deems it worthy for her life. Even when her body starts to shut down with fatigue and malnutrition, she will continue to ignore the warning signs and keep working.
That rare species is commonly referred to as: Mom.
And if I were to be completely honest, that pathetic, little creature is me, right now.
I’ve been struggling with what to write and share with you, because everything I write seems like a lie. I can encourage you to take time for self-care, but I don’t do it myself. I could share my marathon training, but I don’t find joy in it right now. I want to help you pursue you goals and dreams, but I’ve gotten lost pursuing mine. It feels like anything I would share with you right now, wouldn’t be the truth.
So I’m sharing the truth.
The truth is, I’m burning out.
I am one of those people who wants to do it all. Not because I feel the need to impress everyone with my ability, but because I get excited about learning news things, trying new things, and pursuing many passions. That’s just who I am. I can’t seem to take a moment and think about any negative results that might occur by adding an extra thing to my list. I only think about the positives things that can come about it.
We Think We Can Do it All
This year was no different. When we had a huge move last summer, I didn’t pause for a moment and worry about how this would affect me. I threw myself into the work on the house, packing, and moving, because “nobody could do it as well as I could.” Within a week of being in our new home, my house was unpacked. By me.
Two weeks after the move, I started a new school year, with new subjects to teach, and a completely new school. Not a problem for me, I can do anything. I threw myself into the work. You want me to teach about 8 different subjects in half a day? No problem, I got this.
Then I decided to train for a marathon. I also decided to try and build this blog, as well as another side business at the same time. And of course, I had my volunteering and school commitments: choir, gatherings, church events. I was going to bed at 10 pm and getting up at 4 am. Every moment was spent working, or dealing with children. If I wasn’t doing something productive, I felt like I was wasting time.
It didn’t take long before my runs stopped being enjoyable. I was easily angered or brought to tears, doubting myself, and questioning everything I was trying to do and whether or not I was even good enough to do it. I lost weight. It affected my body’s hormones. Food rarely sounded good, and I often would not have an appetite.
This is NOT OK.
Two days ago, I wrote a pray in my journal:
Please Lord, help me find balance and joy again.
Nothing sucks joy out of your life like stress, and my stress was completely self-inflicted. Instead of taking a step back and focusing on the few things that actually matter: my husband, my kids, my relationship with my Lord, I’ve been buzzing around trying to do all the things with an equal amount of energy, as if all things are equally important.
One of my favorite passages comes from Isaiah. It says: “They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” I would apply this all the time to my running, thinking that the Lord would get me through any challenge. Which is true.
But the first half of the verse says, “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” The word renew, literally means “exchange” as in our weakness will give way to God’s strength. For some reason, I keep thinking that in order to be a good wife, successful teacher, fun mom, and great runner, I had to do all the things, otherwise I’m failing. As if I have to be strong. But the reality is, when we are weak, God is strong.
When We Are Weak, God is Strong
It’s just like the well-known children’s song. “We are weak, but he is strong!” There is a reason the Bible talks so frequently about finding our strength in Christ when we feel discouraged and weary. It seems we humans cannot stop relying on ourselves for everything and forgetting about the one who can bring us strength.
I don’t know how to pull myself out of this mess I’m in, but I do know the first thing I need is Jesus. Even sharing my struggles right now is allowing me to spend some time meditating on the Word. That is my priority number one.
And then, I don’t know, but I know I need to make changes. With the marathon on the horizon and the end of the school year in sight, I know, come summer, with God’s help I will start to make some changes in my life. My husband, family, and those I serve deserve better then a burned-out, stressed-out creature. I hope to share those changes with you as I work to get better.
I sincerely pray you find joy and balance in your life, and I truly thank you for your encouragement and support as I work on mine.