While in high school a friend of mine was using his father’s luxury high-end car, not something a typical teenager should be driving. As my friend was enjoying his newfound freedom, and we all loved being chauffeured around, he was feeling like the King in his carriage. Well, he got careless with this genuinely nice ride his parents go graciously provided for him. He was constantly squealing tires, doing donuts, and the drag strip type of burnout. Nothing like smoke and the smell of new rubber on the road, and then admiring the black marks. He liked the attention and all the friends around him. He was doing something none of us could do at the time.
Well, the day came when his dad started looking at the new tires he had just put on the car, and he could not believe the wear and tear. They must be flawed in some way. He called the tire shop and insisted they had given him faulty tires. They urged the man to bring the car to the shop and they would rectify the situation. He brought the car and they put it on the rack and determined it was due to burning out and asked who had been driving the car. Needless to say, the tires did not get replaced for free and there was one mad Daddy leaving the garage. When he got home his son fessed up and said he was sorry and had no forethought of the damages he was causing or the cost. He had gotten and little taste of being “the man” and had behaved irresponsibly like most teenage boys do in anything with an engine. Lesson learned the consequences of our actions will always come with a cost and in this case expensive replacement tires.
Lately, I have spoken to several people who have experienced burnout or are on the verge of burning out. For those of us who have experienced it, we know we never want to go down that road again. It is a lonely and dark place that leaves marks. No, we are not talking about tires any longer. The burnout I am referring to is the body, mind, and spirit and the cost is high. Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when we feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. It causes physical damage, anxiety disorders, it may kill us prematurely and it is characterized due to over engagement. When most think about burnout they tend to relate it to work. Many other factors contribute to burnout, including our lifestyle and personality traits. What we do in our downtime, and the way we look at the world can play just as big of a role causing overwhelming stress.
Let us face it, we all have been in situations where burnout is possible, however, some handle the situation and do not let the situation handle them. One of the most profound things I learned is most of the time burnout, can lead to major depression is because we take on too much, and do not give up what we have no business doing. As Christians, we can stay terribly busy going about the Lord’s work when the Lord never gave a particular assignment. Up until a crossroads in my life I never looked at taking on too much and how it could become an actual sin. In my case it was. Now do not get me wrong, I understand that some things are thrown at us just because we live in a sinful world, but some things we invite in for one reason or another. Either way, most of the time we never invite God to help us cope with what we are facing. He is often an afterthought after the mess has been created. We are strong enough, we can do it on our own, we do not need any help! We just continue to burn our tires and leave pieces of ourselves on the pavement. We hardly ever think to let off the gas and just apply the brake and then coast for a bit while we look to God for help and answers.
Burnout can happen for many reasons. It can be something that comes into our life without permission, or something we have invited. It can be one major crisis or many little things that just keep coming at us until the last straw breaks us like the back of the camel. We get caught up and stay too long for various reasons. We like the attention, we are stubborn, we want to be the superhero, we do not want to seem weak, we get too comfortable with the chaos, we like people oohing and awing over how much we can do, we stay busy as a distraction, we do not ask for help, and then BAM, we suddenly feel it! We become tired beyond rest, used beyond recovery, and pieces of ourselves are gone, just black marks left on the road. Nothing feels good or right any longer, and we lose our joy. We have bitten off more than we can chew, and we cannot spit it out, because what would people think?
I can speak from personal experience; my stress was related to one thing after another that I did not invite, however at my breaking point I realized I was looking to myself to solve the problem and not to God. I was so stubborn and did not realize the consequences of the sin I had committed, and that sin was not turning over to God what was God’s to handle. It almost did me in. I can remember being so weak in the flesh and faint in the spirit that my mind was so confused, and I was not able to find a solution any longer or even understand what I was going through. There was nowhere to look but up for the answers. I could not carry myself or anyone else any longer, and then I realized it was not my job anyway.
Even God rested on the seventh day, and He is God!! We are to hang up our superhero cape, fellowship with Him, rest in Him, and take direction from Him for that peace we so desperately need to deal with this world. This is not our home so quit leaving pieces of ourselves on the road. The world will always bring stress; however, we can choose to be productive in Him, and the next time stress knocks at our door, let God answer it. That is His job, and he does it quite well.
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.”
The next time you find yourself overwhelmed, give it to God!