Have you ever felt helpless, trapped, or defeated? Have you been experiencing a loss of motivation lately? Do you feel tired and drained most of the time? Do you ever question yourself about personal failure or have self-doubt?
If I can be honest: I am tired. Tired physically, mentally, and spiritually.
According to HelpGuide, “Burnout is a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.”
As of lately, I began to question why I do what I do: my work, ministry, and personal projects. I did not realize that I was on the road to burnout when I started to take on more work than I can handle.
Back then I used to be excited about going to work, preparing to lead worship, playing keyboard at church, or writing new topics on this blog.
But lately, I have just been so busy stressing about how I can pay next month’s rent, how to save more money, and invest, which eventually leads to being overwhelmed at work (due to working overtime). On top of that, I allowed the fear of the future to enter and corrupt me from believing the promises of God. “Where can I get a full-time job? Should I take that job opportunity in Hong Kong? Am I willing to move across the world and leave everything behind? What if my partner is here in the U.S.? How can I retire early?”
My mind was everywhere; all the control freak would understand me. 😂
Then last Sunday happened to be my most recent embarrassing moment. I’ve had plenty of embarrassing moments throughout my life, but this one was just super awkward and humiliating.
As I was leading opening worship and prayer in front of the camera, all of a sudden this weird, loud, high-pitched noise started to ring through the speaker. Oh and please note that I had lost my voice halfway through the first worship song. The louder I speak, the louder that high-pitched noise started to ring. LOL, clearly I was under attack.
Between the mixed feeling of confusion, panic, and frustration I just trailed off, not really starting or ending the opening prayer. I kept looking at our media/sound man, but he did not give me any signal, so I ended up not saying anything and just froze there in place. 😳
Long story short, I was so ashamed and embarrassed at myself. Usually, I get over embarrassing moments very quickly, but for whatever reason, I couldn’t shake off what just happened that day.
I started to beat myself up with these questions: Did I do something wrong? Why did that happen to me? Could something have been avoided? Should I have been more prepared? Why did I blank out? I could have done or said something, right? Why didn’t I? Why am I so weird? Why can’t I do anything right?
I learned the more negative question I asked myself, the more depressed I got.
Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy and personal critic.
“If I can beat myself up because of something I did wrong, then no one else will have the chance to bring me down.” Yep, it’s a pretty messed up and dysfunctional mindset.
All my life, I’ve wanted to be the best in my craft or lane. I grew up doing everything with the attitude and spirit of excellence. Never slacking. Laziness was a cuss word. By default, I strived to get a good grade in school, produce high performance at work, school, ministry; always trying to be at the top of the rank. I convinced myself that I was doing everything with the spirit of excellence when in reality I was trying to be a perfectionist, thinking that nothing is ever good enough; always being the high-achiever, having the need to be in full control.
Then on Monday, after being all depressed and down from what happened on Sunday, a sister of mine messaged me:
K: “Sharon, good job tadi leading.”
And I said “Lol Kak i messed up terribly 😭💔 so shocked and lost that I don't know what to do next 😅”
K: “Noooo. Not even. You handled it very well when the mic or whatever was all static.”
Then she said “Idk I just felt moved aja to tell u. I always feel like if someone did something good, that touched me. Ga boleh ga Di acknowledge! You know? Encouragement juga Biar always do good. Why not right? U did good Sharon!”
Her words of encouragement stopped me from drowning in my own pool of self-doubt and disappointment. Pay close attention to people who are not afraid to reach out, support, correct, or encourage you to grow, because they are so valuable and always worth keeping close in your life. 💎
Throughout my life, I learned that it takes true humility and honesty to give a genuine word of encouragement to someone else. This same concept also taught me to have empathy so that I may learn to help and encourage others too.
"Being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure and can help to significantly reduce stress as well as broaden your social circle. While it’s important not to take on too much when you’re facing overwhelming stress, helping others doesn’t have to involve a lot of time or effort. Even small things like a kind word or friendly smile can make you feel better and help lower stress both for you and the other person." (Burnout Prevention and Treatment).
Likewise, recently a friend of mine across the world preached at her church and mentioned in detail what I’m currently facing at work. I was like "wait what, how does she know?" God knows. He knew that I was slowly drifting away from prioritizing what I needed most. A personal time in worship, word, His presence.
In the past, when things don’t go the way I expect them to, I crash and eventually burnout.
Well, actually I don’t get burnout regularly, the last time I felt burnout was back in 2017. Thankfully during that time, I had a mentor who helped me get back on my feet and to start being hopeful for better days ahead.
This is what my mentor said,
“If you feel burned out spiritually and mentally, it might be because your personal relationship with the LORD Jesus is loose. Take time to sit in His presence and to build an intimate relationship with Him. He is the source of all things! Strength, joy, shalom, wisdom, strategy, courage, etc. Take time to just fix your eyes on Him and ask Him to clothe you in His perfect love. Enjoy your intimate time of worshipping Him.
In your prayers, don't ask for anything else but Him. Tell Him with all honesty what is in the deepest part of your heart. He is there ever ready to listen to you, to embrace you, to Father you, and to rekindle the passion in your heart for Him. In His presence is fullness of joy.
He longs to draw us closer and take us deeper with Him than we will ever desire of Him. Take comfort in the very fact according to His Word that you are greatly loved and treasured by the Most High GOD. Just as you are.”
In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
God never intended any of us to feel hopeless, exhausted, or burnout about life. My misconception was that I needed to ALWAYS be on fire for God, be extraordinary, an overcomer, never lacking in faith and work, because without work faith is dead. I didn’t know that I could be vulnerable and say “God I’m so tired of life, everything seems so mundane.” So instead of being honest and open about what we feel to God, we tend to suppress and ignore it by doing other things like working more hours, trying to impress people, go shopping, play games, watch netflix/K-drama, “serve” God, doing everything we think will help, INSTEAD of simply resting in His presence.
But regardless of whether you are experiencing burnout, have experienced it before, or are currently having early symptoms, I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Please be kind and do not be so hard on yourself. Life is full of unexpected challenges and yes we may feel burnout sometimes, but believe that ALL things (the good, bad, & ugly) work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
3 TIPS on How to Deal with Burnout:
Turn to other people. Reach out to those closest to you and let them know how you're feeling at the moment. Opening up to your partner, family, or friend will enable your brain to reevaluate the current reason or root behind your burnout. The person you talk to doesn't have to fix your problem, they just have to be a good listener who will listen attentively without judging your situation.
Reframe the way you look at work or ministry. Can you find some value in your work/ministry? Changing your attitude towards your job can help you regain a sense of purpose and control.
Reevaluate your priorities. "Take time to think about your hopes, goals, and dreams. Are you neglecting something that is truly important to you? This can be an opportunity to rediscover what really makes you happy and to slow down and give yourself time to rest, reflect, and heal."
One of my favorite verses in the book of Isaiah is in chapter 40:29-31, “He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young men will fall in exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
You don’t have to act as if you have it all together. God’s strength is made perfect in our weaknesses; it’s in the weary moments of life where we personally experience the strength and power of God. Quit hiding your true feelings in front of your creator; God made you, He can handle it. Do not allow stress to rob your rest, joy, or peace of mind. You will get through the hard season if you do not stop hoping for the better ahead. If God allowed it, there must be a purpose behind it.
Finally, remember that your greatest revelation from God is found in rest, so stop overworking yourself with things that do not improve your well-being.
Better & brighter days are ahead of us Friends!
"Burnout Prevention and Treatment." Help Guide, October 2020. Accessed March 12, 2021. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/stress/burnout-prevention-and-recovery.htm