"When you burn both ends of a candle, it may produce twice as much light, but the candle burns out twice as fast,” writes Myron Rush in his book, Burnout. “People experiencing burnout suddenly discover that all of their mental, emotional and physical energies have been consumed." This was true for me. I managed my family of two teenagers and developed my company into a million dollar endeavor, yet felt like a walking dead person.
"I've fried my brain,” I said. “I'll never be the same." Yet I’m a grateful burnout survivor—along with others who have learned to stop burning the candle at both ends. How’d we do it?
This post is #4 in a four week blog series on BURNOUT.
I'm curious: Do you think that BURNOUT really happens? And who do you think tends to be susceptible?
(This blog series is adapted from a series of short online articles that I wrote for Genius Ave.)
What IS Burnout or Compassion Fatigue?
If you’re like many moms I know, you’re tired. Weary. Crying babies. Sassy Teens. You love your kids AND sometimes you just want a little relief. Maybe you can’t escape to your dream-get-away right now, but you could use an energy-break. Here’s four doable relief-tips for you:
1. Ask “What do I really want to do?” When you’re in a quandary about a decision, hopefully your response(s) will help you decipher which is your desire or need and not merely what someone else wants you to do. (Trying to make everyone happy and follow their advice can be truly exhausting.)
2. When you get into bed at night, instead of praying “Lord, what did I do wrong today?” and then ruminating about what you coulda- shoulda- woulda done, pray, “What did I do right, Lord?” Then listen to how God’s spirit prompts you, and praise Him for your blessings and His help. (Constant negative self-talk can rob your energy–and your joy.)
3. When you’re overly tired, lacking energy, or just plain overwhelmed with the mundaneness of mommy-hood, ask yourself “Since I’m going to do this activity or task anyway, how can I do it easier–or even with a little fun)? (Doing something you enjoy, like listening to your fav music while accomplishing an unpleasant task can actually revitalize you.)
4. Before you get out of bed and/or reach over to pick up your baby in the morning or greet your early-bird toddler, take thirty seconds to talk to God. Request His guidance and help for your day. Consider asking, “Lord, what do You want to show me today?” Then watch for evidence of His love and direction. (Anticipating good things can be an attitude and energy booster. And a way to get to know God more intimately.)
So…Happy Mother’s Day, Mommy!
“Perfectionists minimize their moral and ethical plus-side and magnify their failings,” writes Miriam Elliott and Susan Meltsner in the book The Perfectionist Predicament. I’ve noticed this phenomenon in clients, friends, family members and yes, even myself. (No surprise, huh?)
I watched one woman hang her head in shame when her job circumstances prevented her from attending a church meeting. Another mentioned how bad she felt that her sick child kept her from having her private prayer time for a few days.
I can give myself grief for not posting an inspirational blog on time or taking too long to respond to a hurting person who sent me an email over the weekend. What’s wrong with you, Joan? It’s like we set up unrealistic spiritual expectations and then worry that God is disappointed in us.
However, here’s what I’m learning (and I love it): God doesn’t withdraw His grace, compassion or support when we fall short in our own eyes. Once we accept the invitation to be His child, He’ll never change His mind. He gives us unique spiritual gifts and then employs us for service accordingly. God’s gift of grace, as well as His promise to comfort, provide for and protect us, are undeserved benefits. His call and gifts are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)
Grace is the face love wears when it meets IMPERFECTION! Will you give yourself a little “grace” today?
Annette! My twin-cousin Jean and I loved that name. We watched Annette Funicello on TV. Jean and I even dreamed of naming our daughters (someday in the future) that pretty name, “Annette.” (Jean on left. Joan on right in photo. How about that "pompadour"??)
But we couldn’t both have daughters named Annette. Solution: Jean’s first-born was a girl and she named her “Annette.” She was (and is!) beautiful just like Annette Funicello; dark hair, glowing olive skin, lovely smile. I named my first-born (a girl, also!) Lynnette. She’s beautiful, too, with blond hair, fairer skin and a gorgeous smile.
Then I grew up to write a book about how joy and imperfection can co-exist titled The Relief of Imperfection. Annette Funicello grew up to act, dance and sing in movies, eventually developing multiple sclerosis and showing us all that indeed joy, pain and imperfection can co-exist.
Annette Funicello said, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!” Her words so impressed me that I quoted her on page 123 of The Intentional Woman book that I co-wrote with Carol Travilla. And two books later, Annette’s quote led way to the title of my devotional book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life, for women who strive too hard to make it all just right.
It’s amazing how one person can personally impact another and never know about it. One article I read quoted Annette Funicello as saying, “I thank God I just didn’t wake up one morning and not be able to walk. You learn to live with it [MS]. …This just makes me appreciate the Lord even more because things could always be worse. I know he will see me through this.” After Annette’s death on Monday, April 8, 2013 in Bakersfield (the city where my two children were born), her daughter Gina said, “She’s on her toes dancing in heaven … no more MS.”
Annette Funicello touched my life in numerous personal ways, although she didn’t know it here on this earth. Whether we realize it or not, we impact and influence others during our lives, also. That truth encourages to me today, because sometimes (I admit it!) I stress about whether I’ve done enough for God or if I’ve made a difference in the lives of the people He planned for me to touch. So today I’ll cease trying so hard to make that happen and let God orchestra the connections. He can do it, just like He connected Annette and me.
Do you have an “Annette Funicello” story? Or a thought about how God makes connections that inspire? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
It’s hard to relax when our personal satisfaction hinges on what someone else does or doesn’t do–or does or doesn’t believe. Doesn’t he know it could work better if he just listened to my plan? Doesn’t she get it?
If you’re a little muddled about how over-helping, perfectionism and playing God are linked, you’re not alone. I’m often puzzled, too. Even experts get confused trying to sort all this out. On occasion, God splashes light into my fogginess through humorous life predicaments. Because all the universe is under God’s domain, I’ve found He can use anything to teach, nurture and grow me. (I love how He does that!) Sometimes new insight comes from surprising venues.
Like that aha! moment I had while watching the movie Driving Miss Daisy a few years ago. The wealthy Miss Daisy and her longtime chauffeur have both aged considerably. As they discuss their situations, Miss Daisy accuses the chauffeur of continuing to drive even though his eyesight is failing. “How do you know how I can see, ‘lessen you look out my eyes?” is his response.
My immediate internal reaction: Whoa! Lord, forgive me for thinking I’m powerful enough to know another’s needs. I realize I will never see their life from their view. I want to learn to treat others with respect. Please help me.
The apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, cautions us about assuming we know another human being’s thoughts and feelings: “No one can really know what anyone else is thinking, or what he is really like, except that person himself” (1 Cor. 2:11, TLB).
I’m continuing to discover the relief-filled truth that I can progressively release my need/urge to do and make it all just right for the people in my life. First step: intentionally trust God for what is not mine to control or direct. Then I can begin to enjoy living in the freedom and grace He patiently waits to give me–and others.
Just wondering: Have you ever experienced what it feels like when someone insists they know what you’re thinking, what you need and how you should resolve your dilemma?
During February I’ve been thinking about LOVE–and noticing how some in our Christian culture view married-love. There seems to be a mini-epidemic of spousal-obsession that gives way to over-helping, people-pleasing and just plain “fixing.” (Okay, if you want to call it codependency, go ahead! And yes, it can be done with lots of words or with silent manipulation.)
This leads me to ask: What did Jesus say about how to love? Along with other wise teaching He said, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39) The original word for “neighbor” means someone close to you. Well, your mate couldn’t be much closer, right?
So here what I’m learning: Loving my spouse as myself does not mean loving him instead of myself. As a healthy child of God, I will love, respect and take care of myself. Yet I won’t be obsessively absorbed in self to the point of leaving him out of my inner life; nor will I live my life through orfor him.
To live primarily through or for another person means that I feel, think, decide, and hurt for that person. I try my best to fix all situations so he does not have to be sad or disappointed or angry or hurt. I’m sorry to say that I’ve been there and done that. I thought this epitomized LOVE, but it backfired.
I discovered that “fixing” (or excessive helping and managing) can actually rob a mate of living his own life before God. It may even deny him a sense of accomplishment and self-worth because I give the impression, “You are not capable of doing this, so I’ll do it for you.” In this process, I often deprive myself of the time and energy I need to grow personally and spiritually.
The relief-producing news: I can learn to accept, appreciate, and respect the person God created to live inside my own body. That God-ordained love, acceptance, and respect can splash over to my spouse. I can be authentic about our reality and still leave him room to develop and make his own decisions. I can learn to love myself and my spouse. It may be a messy process at times AND our married-love is worth it.
For each couple, this growing process will look a little different. What would it look like for you? (You don’t have to over-share. I’d just love your interaction and comments!)
NOTE: Guys, you can substitute the “him” words in the post to “her”, because guys can over-help and over-control, too. Just saying…
Ahhh. It’s LOVE week. All is well. Or is it?
If you’re like some lovers, you may sense that one or both of you are trying too hard to control how the other one expresses love. Instead of increasing intimacy, it pushes you apart. So what’s up?
Okay, no one is perfectly loving 24/7. Yet, you can grow in your Valentine-Relationship when you both commit to developing these God-honoring characteristics:
1. Allow for individuality. Differing talents or temperaments do not threaten true love. Feelings and thoughts can be expressed without fear.
2. Avoid trying to change the other. We may not like everything about our partner, yet when we consider the total picture we are able to be more accepting.
3. Care with detachment. Healthy love cares, listens, and responds; yet does not try to fix or remove the uncomfortable feelings of the lover.
4. Affirm equality of self and partner. A mature relationship treats the partners as equals. There is no sense of competition or one-upmanship.
When you practice mature love, you accept what the other person is able or willing to give. You allow each other space to grow and develop.
This week I invite you to pray with me: “Lord, teach me to love authentically…with joy and fun. I don’t wish to make inappropriate demands–and force my own way. Help me to be honest about what I want. And also listen to understand my mate’s needs and desires. You had a good idea when You created romantic love. Thank you.”
Have a lovely V-day. I know I will, ‘cuz it is also my birthday!
I’m feeling pretty imperfect right now. Fallible. Flawed. Tired. Small. Tonight I read the following words from the chapter titled “Doesn’t God Want Me to Be Perfect?” in my book, The Relief of Imperfection and I sighed with relief. So I thought I’d share it with you. What’s your response?
It is God’s plan to partner with sinful, flawed, limited human beings who choose to follow His Son Jesus Christ. During His 33 years on earth, Jesus surrounded Himself with perfectly imperfect people who decided to admit their needs, take risks, make mistakes and grow.
These are the kind of people who formed His ministry team. Actually, He didn’t spend much time with those who feigned perfection, appeared on-top-of-it-all, made unreasonable religious rules, blamed others for their dilemmas and remained preoccupied with appearances.
Instead He preferred working, playing and living with people just like you and me. He enjoyed imperfect partnerships back then, just as He does today.
What a relief!
P.S. The words on the rock in the photo are “Grace is the face love wears when it meets imperfection.” Reminds me that although I’m feeling quite flawed right now, I’m still loved. Okay, now I’m smiling!
Your homeschool children are invited to join with other young writers. Last year I spent two fun-filled semesters teaching writing at a homeschool co-op in Gilbert, Arizona. (Check out the fun on our website from the first fall 2011. http://storiesfromskylinecourt.blogspot.com.) We just had a few cancellations, so there is room for your children in grades 3rd to 10th. Call Lynnette at 480-270-9922 for info and to register. Hurry! It starts next week! Read the specifics below.
Homeschool Writing Class Wednesdays for 8 weeks ~ September 12, 2012 – November 14, 2012 (October 3 and 31– no class)
Joan C. Webb, author/teacher, life coach, will be teaching Writing: Structure and Style. Much of the curriculum will be based on the method used by The Institute for Excellence in Writing. The writer’s workshop time will be highly interactive and will focus on grammar and vocab enhancement, as well as parts of speech and effective and powerful sentence construction. The 8 week class will be on Wednesday afternoons at Higley and Germann in Power Ranch. (See the photo!) Also included in the registration fee will be opportunity to meet with Mrs. Webb for individual instruction/tutoring.
Joan C. Webb has a passion to know God and to make Him known. She has authored thirteen books including The Intentional Woman (written with Carol Travilla),The Relief of Imperfection, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life (a devotional book), and a four-book series titled Devotions for Little Boys and Girls. Her newest book, Nourishment for New Moms, was released last year. Joan also wrote study notes in Zondervan’s Women of Faith Study Bible. Her background includes business ownership/management, Bible teaching and conference speaking, travel to the Middle East doing relief and development work and twelve years as a pastor’s wife. She lives with her husband Richard in Chandler, Arizona, near their two married children and seven grandchildren.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.