On the outside, it may fool you.
I’m the easy going parent.
I enjoy being more spontaneous and love adventure.
I’m not a clean freak and I’m okay with leaving the dishes in the sink for a day or two.
But on the inside, oh man, on the inside I need to be in control of my life.
Who’s with me?
Who, like myself, has a 10 year, 5 year, 3 year plan?
For most of my life I have subconsciously been planning and organizing my whole life.
Finish high school, do 1 year of bible school, finish top of my class at university, get a job, get married, buy a house, have two kids and basically rock life.
It may sound boring to you but for me it was great.
Everything was going just as it should.
Until a few years ago…
It wasn’t until my life started to get rocky that I realized I have control issues.
Between 2016 and 2018 my life was a series of challenges.
From my mom being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer to getting fired from a dream job. My life was just not going as smoothly as it did in the first 35 years.
But I’m learning through mentors and an awesome little book by Joel Malm called Your Life Message (link here) and through God’s leading that all good stories have challenges and epic fails.
Without them, the story is just boring.
We all want the hero to triumph, overcome and grow. That’s the most interesting part of the story, right?
However, when it came to the story of my life I avoided conflict by directing my own path to the next safest and most predictable step.
God, however, had different plans.
Have you ever woken up with your arm or hand asleep?
Your brain says move, but you are physically unable to move your arm. So you are forced to use your good arm to move your sleeping arm around?
Your brain is saying “move arm”, but you have no control over your body.
This was my feeling when in 2018 I found myself completely exhausted and burned out.
My brain was saying go to work, support people, provide counselling and therapy. But my body and emotions were just not following orders.
I had lost control.
I found myself anxious, frustrated, and I would even say depressed.
The anxiety I felt going to work was intense and I let it out on my family and lost sleep.
As a social worker, I was aware of compassion fatigue and burn out.
Heck! I even counselled others who experienced these symptoms.
But nothing could prepare me for the intense feeling of losing control.
With the wisdom and support of my supervisors, I took some time off.
“Great! A week off will be just what I need then back to work I will go!”
That was my first thought. But that thought didn’t last too long.
But unbeknownst to me, at week one I became sick with a nasty bug.
At week two, the nightmares began and I threw my back out.
By week three, my mouth became full of cold sores from a suppressed viral infection.
My body was telling me something that my mind couldn’t control.
I needed physical, emotional and spiritual rest.
Matthew 11:28 says “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I have always read that verse to mean that God’s work should be easy.
So if I’m called to be a social worker and support others then it should come easy.
This resulted in guilt and shame when I found myself exhausted.
However, when I re-read these verses I now notice that the first thing is to get rest. “28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
It is only when we are rested that God asks us to take up His yoke.
It is then that we will find continual peace and rest.
We are to first find rest and peace in Him.
Finding rest when you are desperately wanting control is tough. Really tough!
There were days when I would tell myself to do something or accomplish a task and my body and emotions wouldn’t let me. Much like trying to move that sleepy arm.
This sense of out-of-control showed me just how much I was relying on myself and not looking to God.
The two months off of work (yep… it took eight full weeks for me to find rest) really showed me that if I self-direct my life I set myself up for burnout, exhaustion and frustration.
But! If God directs and leads my life he provides the life and energy for me.
His life is never ending and so there is no exhaustion, no depression, no anxiety, no frustration, no overwhelm.
There is joy and peace.
Here is a quiz that you can take to help you reflect if you are in the place of exhaustion, overwhelm and frustration. Click here to take this free quiz.