Resting isn’t usually on my agenda. In fact, doing nothing tends to make me feel a bit crazy. Sitting around actually hurts my body. But I realized toward the beginning of 2020 that I am not infinitely expandable, and burnout is real. To me, burnout was a word people used who are tired from not following their passions or pursuing things outside their scope of abilities and purpose. I felt like I was living on target guided by my God-given purposes and abilities. So why was I feeling burned out?
May Me Resents the September Me
I heard someone say once that May me resents the September me. The September me is always optimistic I will be able to show up for all the volunteer duties with gusto at the end of the year. The September me that thought, “It’s just one day, of course you will have time for it,” often finds herself in the 2nd half of the school year wondering where all the time went or will come from. I can’t keep adding on. I don’t like math, nor am I good at it, but the math of constant addition and no subtraction doesn’t make sense.
Because I am finite, and not infinitely expandable, something has to shift. For example, when a friend is in an extended crisis, it will take more time and something else has to take less. Acknowledging that is important. When your child is having a hard time emotionally at school it will take more of your time and something else has to take less. When your husband is having a stressful season at work which means more falls on you, something else will have to take less. When you are going through a health crisis and doctor appointments fill your weeks, something else will have to take less. You need time to be sick and get better. A person cant just keep adding things on. Imagine your closet or pantry or even the human body. Somethings have to be rearranged to make way for the new, and some things have to be eliminated to make room for more.
So if you are like me, finding yourself in a season where outside forces are pressing in and you want to show up for those forces, please don’t keep running at the same pace and distance. Please be careful when making goals or resolutions. We aren’t infinitely expandable; we have our limits. I tried. I petered out. In fact, it ended up with me in February hardly showing up for anyone at all. All I wanted to do was watch Netflix and stay at home.
Return to the Pre-quarantine Pace
So if you have been looking forward to the return of school and sports and all that involves, started some new health programs, or vowed to do some new projects for others this year, remember we aren’t infinitely expandable. These add ons come at prices to other areas. After our sheltering in place or quarantine season, most likely we are not used to the former level of busy so our emotional and physical responses may be different. Our capacity maybe even smaller than before. Commit slowly.
I know I am trying to make sure the add ons don’t take away from the core of who I am created to be and what I am made to do. My core roles are to support my family, volunteer, lead bible studies, and just be available when the people in my circle need a friend. If what I add on makes those primary areas better, then bring it on, but if it detracts time from them, I really think twice.