What’s that smell, you say?
Oh nothing, just my brain cooking inside my skull.
Hi, my name is Denika, and…I’m burned out. (Hi, Denika.)
It’s taken me a while to get here. Not to the burned out stage, I think that happened somewhere in the middle of sophomore year and has ebbed and flowed ever since. I’ve always been stressed out. No, I mean to the point where I can admit it.
It’s incredibly humbling.
I’ve been in this mindset lately of “I can do anything!” Which is good, to an extent. Not feeling crippled by whatever social or physical or mental limits we might place on ourselves (or are placed on us) is a healthy place to be. However, I turned that “I can do anything” into an “I can do everything.” I’ve gone far past allowing my limits to cripple me into the dangerous realm of denying I have limits.
I’ve been working myself to the bone on my schoolwork, including spending my entire spring break sitting in the library writing a paper that’s not due until April 30th. I’ve been jumping through hoops to try to make my boss’ job easier (being that that was basically what I was hired to do). I’ve been trying to secure a community house and a job at an awesome church, in which I’m trying to get involved anyway because I dig the community they have there. I’ve been trying to sustain relationships with many of my friends who I’m not so sure even want the relationship. I’ve been trying to focus on loving my husband sacrificially and giving him the attention and time that he needs.
In the process of trying to do all of this, I have neglected two important things: myself and Jesus.
I’ve always tried to be outward-focused. We’re supposed to put our neighbors in higher esteem than ourselves, to love them even to the point of our own death. We’re supposed to give from whatever we can offer. This isn’t a bad thing, but I’ve done it wrong. Instead of loving self-sacrificially in a way that respects my neighbors by giving them the best possible me, and investing much in a few than little in many, I’ve tried to do everything. And I can’t.
Except that I’ve gotten so wrapped up in theology and Greek translation and debating issues with people of whom I know we will never see eye to eye, that I’ve forgotten to spend time with the One whom all of it is about. I spend hours each day reading the Bible in Greek and English, but I’ve neglected to realize that it isn’t just a homework assignment. I’ve read countless articles and books about living out the gospel in this age, but the closest I’ve come lately is trying to donate a fake Christmas tree that’s been in the trunk of our car since November.
I’ve spent so much time talking about Jesus that I’ve forgotten to let Jesus speak.
And for those of us hooked up to the Jesus tap, we know that if we close ourselves off to the Source, things dry up pretty quickly.
So it’s no wonder I’ve burned out. I’ve been pouring myself out, but I haven’t allowed myself to be filled.
If only it were that simple, though. Because my professors couldn’t care less if I didn’t do my work because I needed a break–they stop hearing at “I didn’t do my work,” and I’m supposed to have figured out how to make school and the rest of my life mesh by my senior year. My boss probably understands this more, but there is no room for a break in my job. I can’t just quit on my community and especially not my husband. And I need to have a job and a place to live lined up because we’re too broke to not plan ahead.
I know what some of you are thinking: “Don’t worry, God will provide.” That may be true, but nowhere in any provision language does it ever say that God will make sure we can pay our bills, or that we can graduate from college. Providing could be as little as a bridge to sleep under and enough food to keep our bodies running until the next meal. I’d really prefer to keep things from going that far.
So I’m stuck. On the one hand, I have a million responsibilities from which I don’t have a feasible way of escaping. On the other, I have no time, energy, will, patience, or sanity left to uphold these responsibilities.
My only hope (and an increasingly common prayer of mine) is that somehow Jesus will break in to my overtaxed existence and fill me up. I’m out of other options.
Will Jesus still find me through all this smoke?