I remember it like it was yesterday, a full day jostling the crowds at Kings Island Amusement Park. My kids were 6 1/2 and almost 5 and loved everything about riding roller coasters, joking with people as we waited in long lines and debating ice cream or slushy as a cool down treat. Cincinnati summers are sticky with humidity, yet this day didn’t end in a refreshing shower. No, this day ended with bright pink cast on my dominant arm and a 6-week sentence to slow down and take care of myself. When my husband walked in that night, he laughed, which released my tears. How was I going to manage the summer in a cast?
This is not a new scenario for me. I run after things fast and furious. I use my business acumen to operate the home, ministries and entrepreneur activities. Many past bosses commented that they would give me the tougher projects because “if you want something done well, give it to the person with a full plate”. I like results and usually get them. The cast was caused from attempting to learn a new tennis serve, which led to tennis elbow. But instead of pausing and letting it heal, I continued playing tennis and added some rounds of golf to further irritate it. The results I got from this poor decision were relying on my little girl’s little hands to fasten my bra and smooth my hair into a pony tail. It was a wake-up call to assess where I was spending my hours, and sadly my reaction was to eliminate the extra-curricular boards and volunteerism I was doing.
I know many of you can relate. We are doers. People come to us. We get the job done! Sometimes it’s at the cost of our physical self, other times at the cost of time spent without our family and loved ones. And the reality is that most the time we don’t realize we are getting low on fuel until we hit the casting (breaking -ha!) point.
Last summer was a new form of depleting season. Instead of over-programming my calendar, it was in response to helping a loved one get strong footing after a medical emergency. I was “doing” anything in my power to assist, to plan, and especially to anticipate what was next to hit the fan. I wasn’t sleeping, but adrenaline was coursing through my veins and carried me through, albeit with an anxious feeling – often calmed with chewing gum and tears. Other people bite their finger nails, rely on smoking for its calm rhythmic breathing, or other escape strategies (disguising days of anorexia as “cleansing or fasting”, self-medicating with alcohol and/or prescription drugs, etc.) Fortunately, my friend Katie asked a few pointed questions about my health and concluded “I will pray for you to receive peaceful rest”. Her words and prayers were a season changer for me. I slept like a rock that night and each night following. Her high-school aged son Will checked in on me a few weeks later, letting me know he was still praying for my sleep. How sweet and life-giving is that?! Katie’s comments are what started my daily scripture dive into peace (message me for a link) that I’ve since shared with many friends in similar empty seasons of life.
Katie’s answer is different from my response to my casted arm. She understood that I was emotionally depleted. Even more, she knows God doesn’t want an unproductive Kristie, or a non-serving-other’s Kristie, He wants His daughter to come to Him, asking for His help. God wants me to understand I don’t have the strength to do this alone, but with the Holy Spirit inside of me, He’s “got me” and whatever comes my way!
“Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” Luke 12:32
A new type of depletion hit me in February. Similar to physical depletion and emotional depletion, I described it as weighty, a burden from loving many so much, yet first hand seeing the brokenness in marriages, friendships, addictions and hard decisions that were eating-away at friends daily. As I was caring for my flock, deep in scripture and lifting up many in prayers, I forget to fuel me. Fortunately, God gave me a nudge and I sent a prayer request to a close group of believers. Do you want to know what they immediately filled my in-box with?
*Affirmations for not allowing Satan to keep me in isolation
*Praise for seeking community and fellowship
*Confirmation that God would meet me in this spot because he knows exactly where I am emotionally and physically
*Plus, continual prayers of support, sharing of scripture and just straight up love!
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. Romans 15:13
I share these stories because just last week, in under a 24-hour period, three strong-in-faith friends used the word depletion – one in a text, one on a run and a third on a walk. It struck me that many of us are fighting these areas of exhaustions alone! I’m so glad these friends spoke up, reached out, and confided their emptiness. Together, we were able to turn away from the anxiety of the world and get fueled-up by tapping into the peace and joy He has living inside of us.
“Cast your cares on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken.” Psalm 55:22