Find balance. Protect your family time. Get rest. Take care of yourself. Make time for your marriage.
These are all things that I’ve heard or read related to families that are in full-time ministry. Urban ministry workers, and those who work in cross-cultural settings are said to be particularly susceptible to experience work related fatigue or burn-out.
Is the idea of being “burnt-out” even in the Bible? It doesn’t seem to be. Paul didn’t appear to have a balanced life with all of his “run the race” and “fight the good fight” talk. The Old Testament prophets didn’t let up. They were constantly in someone’s face.
Working here I feel like I am in some kind of crazy do or die race. I constantly feel like there is a battle happening. Sometimes, it’s just to get through the traffic. Sometimes the stakes are much higher…life or death. Hope or fear.
Exhausted. That’s what I titled this post. That’s what I am.
I have been coming up empty at the end of every day. I am glad to be in the middle of the battle, and part of me lives for the struggle of working to grow God’s Kingdom in the city of San Salvador. I don’t want to miss any of this. But I’m just so tired.
I can’t quite put my finger on it. The pressure to balance being a mom and a wife and go grocery shopping but still feel like I’m part of the ministry? The language-switching always going on in my head? The discouragement of watching people stumble and fall under the weight of poverty and addiction? The civil war veteran and the little girl begging at my car window at the stoplight? The desperation of wanting more for the beautiful people of this country but deep down feeling like it will never, ever change? And the questions, the endless questions, for God…Why this? And that? How could you? And why won’t you?
Being a missionary has shaken my faith to the very core. Maybe it’s the distortion of comfortable American Christianity. When we “go big” for God we expect that it all will go well. We are tricked into believing that somehow the way will always be clear and we will “get” what God is up to. The truth I have found about following God has less to do with the great things I can accomplish for God and more to do with the difficult and painful work that He is doing in my own soul.
But yet, God still uses my slow and painful growth process to touch the lives of others. He wants me to draw close to Him in the midst of it all. The Bible mentions the need to press on, and to fight the fight. But it also tells us that Jesus Himself took time away…to rest…to be with His Father.
Soon we will be taking a trip to the States. We are truly grateful to have been given this opportunity and to be geographically close enough to make it happen. I need the perspective, the quietness, and the time away. I want to listen to what God is telling me, and I want to learn to rely on Him again even when the path ahead seems so hard and so unsure.