“You’re up early,” came the typed words of a friend on Facebook who lives in a different time zone. “Yep. Couldn’t sleep,” came my simple reply. I woke before the twilight hour, even though I was tired to the bone. It was an emotional tired. The kind that steals your sleep in the night and saps your energy during the day. It’s the sort of tired that distracts you from the little joys of life by demanding you pay attention to your “to-do” list and your “need-to” list.
I closed my computer and opened my Bible looking for solace and comfort…or an answer as to why I was losing energy towards the things I’m typically passionate about. With my BH still sleeping, I soaked in the stillness of the moment, laying my head against the back of my chair…simultaneously realizing I had a headache. So without taking in scripture, I got up and turned on the coffee pot, hoping a tall cup of creamy java would soothe my frayed brain.
By the time my BH was up and ready for work, I had mentally tallied all of the things that needed tending to that day, including teaching music to the littles at work, mentoring (both online and in real life), writing, errands, chores, etc. And I wasn’t looking forward to any of it.
Later that morning, taking a suggestion from my BH, I called my friend. She listened patiently, while I cried my worries into the phone.
“You do so much Caryn. And you’re making a difference. But you’re understandably tired. You’ve got to slow down, get quiet, rest and make time for things you enjoy doing, just for fun. In my own experience, I’ve found that if I ignored what I was feeling and just tried to “push through”, things only got worse. The only thing that works is to make a change. And it’s better to choose to make some positive changes now, rather than negative changes coming because you’re burned out.”
Slow down. Take time to rest. Get quiet. Her words resonated deeply within me.
You might be interested to know that there are 2 musical terms that indicate slowing down and resting (being quiet.)
The first is largo:
lar·go (lärg) Music
adv. & adj.
In a very slow tempo, usually considered to be slower than adagio, and with great dignity. Used chiefly as a direction.
A largo passage or movement.
[Italian, from Latin largus, generous.]
One piece of music that comes to mind is titled, coincidentally and appropriately, “Largo” from “The New World” Symphony No.9, Movt.2 by Antonin Dvorak.
The beauty lies in the rise and swell of the music. It is slow, deliberate and uncomplicated, yet amazingly full.
A similar style of music you might be more familiar with is found in the hymn, “It Is Well With My Soul” by Phillip Bliss (words by Horatio Spafford).
Traditionally, the chorus slows down and each word is elongated, emphasized…and powerful.
The other word is the musical term for rest, or silence. It is tacet
(as a direction) indicating that a voice or instrument is silent.
Unless you’re looking directly at a piece of music, you might not hear the silence or rests within the piece, but they’re effective nonetheless. Silence gives the listener (and musician) a break from the continual motion. For example, in the famous 1812 Overture by Tchaikovsky, a full orchestra plays throughout, but we don’t hear the crashing of the cymbals until the music comes to a decidedly big finale. The cymbals are present the entire time, but they are tacet (quiet) until their bold voice is most musically effective.
By the time I hung up the phone, I realized she was right. I hadn’t been intentional about getting quiet, or resting. Being quiet, is not something I’m known for! I said a prayer, thanking the Lord for such a wise and available friend, then reached out and turned the page of my Bible which was still lying open on the footstool where I’d left it. My eyes searched out the underlined passage, where the wisdom of Solomon shed light onto my situation.
“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” Ps. 127:1
I stopped and repented, naming the things before the Lord that I was laboring over out of my own efforts. Good things. Things and ministries He had ordained, but that somewhere, I had stopped checking in, or had forgotten to seek His perfect will and timing concerning them.
Steps To Help Avoid Burnout:
Know your limits. Don’t let pride keep you from asking for help.
Schedule breaks in your day. Get up from your desk. Step outside, even if only for a few minutes.
Learn how to say ‘no’. Have a hard time doing that? I know, me too. But look at it this way ~ If you say ‘yes’ to something you’re not supposed to take on, you’re taking away someone else’s blessing.
Have a creative outlet. Creativity brings energy and gives your mind that much-needed break. For me, it’s gardening and photography.
Let go of perfect. I’m a detail-oriented person. But ‘perfect’ stifles creativity and adds extra stress. This is a tough one for me (especially where my writing is concerned), but I’m going to be working on it.
Honor the Sabbath day. Aka: Rest. All day. God himself rested after he created. Not because he was tired, but I think to reflect ~ and to set an example. He knew we would be tired at the end of 6 days! If you work on Sunday, you need to find another day where you are intentionally carving out a significant time to rest. Stay in God’s Word. It may sound obvious, but when we’re busy and overwhelmed, time alone with the Lord is one of the easiest things to “let go of”.
- Be intentional about getting quiet. We live in a noisy world. Unplug. Turn off the TV, computer, phone and take just a few minutes every day to sit quiet and be still.
I’m going to be working on these. How about you?
Did this resonate with you? If so, please consider leaving a comment.