I tried to hide it, but after a while it oozed out. Against all my resolve to “pray and serve” it away. The work, overwork, obsessive caring, disappointments, denial, exhaustion, pretending, pain, threatened relationships, physical illness, confusion, and isolation spun into burnout. Not my plan.
It led to the loss of a career, my dreams, my personhood, emotions and normal thinking processes. (I thought I’d never have a complete understandable thought again.) I felt abandoned by God and other people. And I’m supposed to “give thanks in all things!” How could I possibly say thank you for this?
Yet, after admitting my need, seeking help, readjusting my mis-beliefs about life, ministry, work and God–and learning new habits–I quietly, timidly started to say, “Yes, Lord, surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish.” (*Isaiah 38:15-19)
The career/ministry/relationship burnout (yes, all three! They overlapped.), the failing business, the pain and numbness forced me to admit my need, and regardless of the consequences, do something about it. Not with elation or pride did I or do I now say, “Thanks.” It was not a pleasant way to learn! Yet God restored me to health and let me live. And only the living can praise or thank him. Even though it’s “ironic gratitude”, I amgrateful.
If your hope is fading, God IS. . . He’s not mad at you. He’s waiting for you. He will restore you. Even though you can’t feel Him–perhaps only your head (and not your heart) knows His love at the moment. Reach out your hand. He’s right there. Join Him in the healing process. There is HOPE. You’ll get your life back.
* Isaiah 38:15-19: “You restored me to health and let me live. Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish. In your love you kept me from…destruction… The living, the living—they praise you, as I am doing today.”
YOUR TURN FOR UNLIKELY THANKS?
What unlikely thing are you quietly grateful for this Thanksgiving?
Devotions Encourage Power to Pray
Reading devotional books has enriched my life as a girl, woman, student, wife, mother, friend, teacher, coach and writer. When I was a young teenager, a friend gave me a book entitled A Diary of Private Prayer by John Baillie. Each time I read one of the devotional prayers my own desire to pray grew. I jotted my personal thoughts and prayers in the margin of each one-page devotion.
Devotions Encourage Power to be Courageous and Change
Then on that New Year’s Eve when Richard and I shared our marriage vows, we received the devotional bookStreams in the Desert as a wedding gift. Repeatedly I read this compilation of the daily thoughts and scriptural insights from Mrs. Charles Cowman and her friends.
Year later as I faced burnout, a Christian co-worker gave me a copy of My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers. I read the daily devotions and slowly gained courage to make some much-needed positive changes.
Sharing the Power of Devotions
I’ve experienced the power of short encouraging messages from other writers to open my eyes to God’s truths. Because we tend to minister to others in the same ways in which we’ve been helped (note the number of Christian therapists who were themselves helped by a good therapist), writing devotionals has become a natural overflow of my own grateful heart.
Perhaps that’s one reason why I wrote a series of one-page devotions for children and their parents calledDevotions for Little Boys and Girls and a book of 365 devos (for grown-ups!) titled Meditations for Christians Who Try To Be Perfect and have now partnered with Regal Books for the release of It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life: Devotional Readings for Women Who Strive Too Hard to Make it Just Right.
Devotions Encourage Relationship Beyond Performance
God is teaching this once overwhelmed and self-critical teenager (who grew up to be an overwhelmed and people-pleasing adult) that He loves and cherishes me whether or not I read the right books or pray just the right prayer or have perfectly consistent faith and emotions. He assures me it’s about our relationship, not about my performance. Reading devotions, along with the Bible, has helped me want to know God more intimately and to share with others. I’ve found power in that. How about you?
How has reading devotions helped you?
Someone recently asked me why I wrote my new devotional book, It’s A Wonderful (Imperfect) Life. So here’s the reason in a nutshell.
I remember the day I sat in my office, surrounded by the ever-present piles of papers and files. When the phone rang and the caller asked for the name, address, and purpose of our company, I blanked-out. Completely. Don’t know how I ended that call. But I did decide I needed help. I soon discovered that I had severely burned out.
When I dug past the burnout, I discovered a defective pattern of misconceptions.
What part of your story and experiences is God asking you to share in order to help others?
Look what I found among the rocks as I worked in our front yard! Hey, we live in Arizona.We spray off our dusty rocks and water our bushes & potted flowers. No grass to cut here. And no snow to shovel, either. Yes!
(I heard your collective groan just now, “Oh, I’d miss the seasons. . . !” But I digress.)
I love this painted rock nestled in my river of rocks out front. But I cannot tell a lie: it didn’t just appear there! Nope.
My lovely daughter (mother of our 4 precious granddaughters) handed me a little pink bag. Inside was this blue rock with the painted message: Grace is the face love wears when it meets IMPERFECTION.
Ahhhhh. A gift from a talented young woman who like her mommy (that would be me) has faced that “trying too hard to make it just right” mode at times in various areas of her life. Yet we’ve both changed –and are changing! It’s a God-guided process.
GRACE! God showers us with grace. A major reason I’m so grateful this Thanksgiving. HOW ABOUT YOU? What are you grateful for this season?
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.