Do you ever just have days or weeks when you feel completely introverted and/or socially awkward?
I go through these phases mostly, I think, because I stay home with 3 kids all day, every day.
I have days and weeks where I am just not good for conversation. I feel overwhelmed, and overworked, and emotionally spent.
Playing the role of counselor, peacemaker, judge, and teacher is exhausting- especially when you do it x3 (children).
And to the other people in my life- (friends, extended family, and church-members), this might cause me to appear aloof or uncaring, which is certainly not the case at all.
But the truth is, sometimes I have just given all I have to give to the 4 people in my immediate social circle- my husband and kids.
And really, I think at this stage of life… that it okay- normal even.
At the end of the day, most days, I feel like I have fought the good fight. And having done so, am tired, and wounded from battle.
But what this means sometimes, is that I am unable to call and initiate “get togethers” with my friends. I’m at times unable to serve the dear people in my life as confidant or counselor. I am unable to babysit- or have a friend’s child over to play. I am unable to teach children’s Sunday school class, or lead small group discussions.
Why can’t I give and serve in this way? Because I am absolutely, positively run dry.
There will come a day when my children won’t take my full attention and service, and when that day comes, I’ll be prepared to face the challenge of being an emotional servant to anyone who needs me, but right now…I can’t do it (all the time).
But am I using my emotional burn out in order to be selfish and not offer my services to friends, family and my local church?
I don’t think so.
Because even though I have spent absolutely every ounce of my emotional energy and effort, that doesn’t mean I am not totally willing to devote my physical “help” to anyone who could use it.
What I mean is, I may not be able to help a sick friend by taking on a child or two, but I am completely willing and able to swing by and pick up dirty laundry, or drop off a meal, or come by to do dishes for an hour. This gifts of service are not only NOT a burden, but a they are a blessing to this weary, emotionally- drained mommy. I don’t have to use my mind or my heart- but just my hands!
See, sometimes, it isn’t that I don’t want to serve, it is that I honestly just can’t. And taking an hour or two to mindlessly wash a friend’s dishes feels good, and gives me purpose without taking something from me that I am unable to give.
Now, why am I telling you this?
Because, if like me- you are this person who is at a stage of life that keeps him/ or her burned out, I want to encourage you that:
It is okay! Don’t ever use it as an excuse not to give freely of yourself, but don’t be ashamed that you are unable to give in certain ways. And be creative about ways that you can get in there and be a servant to people. Serving others is something that we are called to do, and something that brings blessing to a weary soul.
And if you aren’t one of these people, I want to encourage you to:
Be gentle with those who are tired and overburdened. Do your best to be slow to anger and slow to judge. their unwillingness to make commitments they feel they can’t keep, or their unenthusiastic attempts to serve may not be a result of selfishness and apathy, but emotional burnout.
There is something precious about a friend/ or family member who is willing to be “understanding”. There is something precious about that friend who isn’t always sizing you up and measuring you against their expectations. That sweet, gentle spirit who understand when you haven’t called for a month, who you’ve had to say no to repeatedly, who never plays mind-games, who lets you be the weak link when you need to be… that person is a precious jewel, and an encouragement.
And I have been blessed with a treasury of them.
These people never cease to inspire me to be more forbearing, more understanding, and more kind. I see the work of the Spirit in their dealings with me, and I am magnetically drawn to the Living Word- inspired to find out what has made them that way.