These past few days, I've been running on fumes. It's pretty clear to anyone that's had to put up with me (and I hereby issue an apology for my grumpy, negative attitude). Honestly? I'm just exhausted.
I've long said there are two kinds of exhausted: there is the exhausted of good, hard work done well and the exhaustion of just overdoing it. The former lets you go to bed good and tired, ready for rest, and confident of what you've accomplished; the latter leaves you feeling like you haven't done anything worthwhile, there's too much left, and you've actually made things worse, so it makes you miserable.
There is a third kind, though, and it is the place where I'm at now: it is the completely, totally, absolutely drained exhaustion that starts to even suck your spiritual strength out of you and you're just...wiped.
The difference here is that it's not about good and tired, having done something well, or energy-busted and worried about your contribution to the world. It's about that off-feeling piled onto whatever other level of exhaustion you're feeling.
To put it in terms I think a lot of people can understand, it's the kind of exhaustion that makes you absolutely BAWL at the slightest refreshing taste of God in your life. It's a thirsty tired.
I'm determined to live in this place for a bit and let God touch me in it, tears and all, but let me say a little of how this happens. Because I know you've been here, too. And I don't have all the answers, but I have my experience. Perhaps you can relate.
The past month or so has been one project after another. The rock garden. Preparing the deck to refinish. Getting things going on my website. Committing more fully to this blog. Looking at what God has for me down the road, both near and far. Working on publicity for my book. (Have you read Recess with Jesus yet? Have you told a friend?) Birthdays. Family. Parties. Events. Mother's Day (yes, I'm started...but hopelessly far from finished). Job searching. Applications and interviews. Dog grooming. Dog tending (my 12-year-old lab/shepherd is really struggling with her arthritis...severely). Mowing. Preparing for the workmen to get started on the house. Not to mention the daily little things that have to be done - dishes, laundry, vacuuming, cooking, cleaning, emergency runs to Lowe's to fix the new faucet that just cracked in four places and is leaking out the drain pipe... It's how it goes.
None of that is bad in itself. It's just that each thing I'm working on is coming in pieces. Little, teeny, tiny pieces that are making me work five minutes here, ten there, another five over here, and maybe fifteen over there. Without, mind you, a pogo stick to help in bouncing from one place to another to another to another. If I could sit down and work through and even get an hour or two at a time on one thing, it wouldn't seem like as much as it seems like right now. It's the bouncing that's killer.
The lack of a nice chunk of time - to do anything - is stifling. It's hard to get into the things I'm really hungry to do - like pick up a new chapter in my next book (Prayse) or really start hammering out the new website (details coming soon).
I know that's how the world works counter to God. I know that's how what stands against God gets into us. Because all I want to do is this that I've been thirsting over that God is graciously pouring into my heart - ministry. Writing. Visiting. Talking with people. Having time for time and space for space and heart enough for all of it.
Wanna know a secret? It's not going to work. Here's why, and I hope this is what you can take from all this:
The key to overcoming this third type of exhaustion - this completed wiped that puts us on edge, makes us biting, and drains us to the point of spiritual void - is kind of to give into it.
I think it's easy for us to look at ourselves in times like these and say there's no time for this. To push ourselves to overcome by will or by might, to just stick it out and pray that it gets better. That is a very good way to make yourself more miserable. Just own it.
Admit it. Admit that you're exhausted and that it falls clear into this third category - thirsty tired. Turn on some praise music (I've got MercyMe playing right now on my "Praise and Prayer" playlist) and let the words pierce you. Open the floodgates and cry as much as you feel like you're about to anyway, as embarrassingly as you fear you will, as tenderly as God has created you to. Be deliberate about entering into the drained feeling and ask God to meet you there.
This is not weakness; this is invitation. Through the weight of the world that is piling on your shoulders, there is the whisper of God that says, "Let's grab a latte." It is His invitation to enter into Him, to take this hollow moment and turn it hallowed. Even when you feel like it'd be the same as diving off a cliff to admit this emptiness, to enter into it, to ask God to touch it, to pierce it with worship, to agonize it with truth and push yourself over the brink into absolute meltdown (we feel like that, don't we? like all our "put-together" is about to fall apart)...you have to realize God is waiting there. He knows that as much as it doesn't feel like it until we show up there ourselves, this is a sacred moment.
Take what time you need with God. Find a good friend and get together just to breathe; she probably needs a break, too. Take some time...because you know you're hungry. Thirsty.
Turn to God and let Him feed you.
And give yourself permission not to worry about the to-do list. Dishes piling up? Buy paper plates and eat off those for a week. The world is not going to come to an end if you stop doing the piddly little stuff (or even some of the big stuff) for a few days; it's not your feet that makes this world spin. It's your love. And trust me on this - if you're letting yourself get wiped, it's only a short trip until you run out of love. Then what?