My husband and I recently planted a new church in a transitional part of the city of Denver, I also have an autoimmune disease that leaves me exhausted and wanting to crawl into bed by 8 p.m., my mother recently died of cancer and did I mention we have four kids? Needless to say, I'm exhausted. Bone tired most days. And recently I have felt soul weary. The kind of tired where your soul feels worn and weak.
I’m sure you have your own set of circumstances that makes you feel tired. Don’t we all? Most of us are burning both ends of the candle at once, packing as much into life as we can somehow manage. We are all exhausted, longing to fall into to bed at night. But God calls us to something more. He calls us to refreshment and renewal. He calls us to give our lives away but in such a way that we are finding life and joy in the midst of the hardships of this life. I’ve been thinking lately about how that plays out in my own life—how I let things go too far and get to the point of being soul weary. God doesn’t call us to a life of ease—but he does promise to be with us and give us abundant life.
Here are three practical steps to take if you find yourself exhausted.
1. Remember what God’s Word teaches on renewal.
I was surprised to find so many verses with the words weary, hope and renewal. It made me realize so much of life includes those three things. We grow weary, but then we remember and we hope in the Lord, and He renews us and gives us strength. How precious that God cares for the needy and weary. He does not send us out to do life alone. He’s present; He comforts and encourages. What a gracious Father! Here are some of my favorite reminders.
"Though youths grow weary and tired, And vigorous young men stumble badly, Yet those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary" (Isaiah 40:30-31 NASB).
"He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake" (Psalm 23:3).
"O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly; My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You, In a dry and weary land where there is no water" (Psalm 63:1).
"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28).
2. Preach the Gospel to yourself.
As a church planter's wife, counselor and a mom of four young ones, digging deep into scripture sadly gets thrown out the window all too frequently. I can tell when I'm getting overly worn out by our work that I am not plugging into the source of life. So I have found that even mediating on one or two verses for a week to be profoundly life-giving. Or as I go through my daily chores, to simply think through the questions “How can the gospel be bigger in my life right now?” and “To what areas of my life can I apply the gospel this week?” Turning our minds to the Lord even in simple ways can begin to renew our hearts and give us soul energy to face life.
3. Find what recharges you, and fight for it.
I live in the beautiful state of Colorado, and I have found that hiking is a huge life-giver to me. When I am weary and burdened by life, I find that getting outside for a long walk in the mountains really revives my soul. I usually have a baby on my back, so I bring headphones to listen to worship music. Another life-giving thing for me is date nights with my husband. I am a foodie, so trying out different places with my best friend (and letting someone else do bed time) is a soul-win. For you it could be painting or writing, working out, coffee with a girlfriend, one on one time with your children or time alone with God. Whatever it is that brings life to you—find it, make sure its a part of your week, every week. One way to do that is to whittle down what you value most. Is it community? Adventure? Volunteering? Find your core values, and make sure they are a part of your daily life. So no matter what work you are doing, there is a part of your life that is life-giving. It's so vital to help maintain a healthy outlook in a life that tends to be full of rough waves.
I don’t ever think I will be a woman with a ton of energy. I’m not going to be the mom who gets up hours before her children to have quiet and prepare the house. And I don’t think I will ever be the kind of pastor’s wife who’s house is sparkling clean. But what I do know, my door will always be open because God opened His for me. I will always have the capacity to listen to others and their suffering because God’s spirit resides in me. I will always have capacity for brokenness in others because I am constantly aware of how incredibly needy I am for Jesus. We can be weary in this life because the fall has made us limited and relationships hard. But let's seek renewal and restoration and God will always meet us there.
What actions do you take when you find yourself exhausted?