Last summer, I burned out.
Between Mid-May and early August, I photographed 13 weddings, got engaged, spent 11 days in Poland, helped launch a new ministry at church, and my parents’ divorce became official. I’m tired just thinking about it. It makes sense that somewhere around July, anxiety started to creep into my life and I spent a few too many nights crying into the hardwood floors of my photography studio.
I was tired – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
All winter, my focus was on rest and healing. From actively seeking out inner healing and counseling to simply seeking more sleep, it was a time to not only recoup from an insane year, but examine a lot of the patterns in my life that had gotten me to that place.
It turns out, over-exhausting myself wasn’t a one time mistake, but an actual rhythm in my life:
Three years ago, the words of Matthew 11 in the Message lept out at me in a little prayer room in the heart of inner-city Las Vegas. I was coming off of the hardest year of my life and desperately needed a season of rest. As a prayed about my birthday and what God had in store for the next year, rest kept coming back and so did the kind invitation of Jesus:
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I learned to embrace that in the year that followed my summer in Vegas. I still did things (probably too much) and it definitely wasn’t perfect, but I think that was the healthiest and most connected to myself, God, and people that I’ve ever been. Why? Because I took that invitation of Jesus seriously.
Not only did I do the good Christian girl thing of hanging up those words on my bathroom mirror, I actually lived it out. Jesus taught me how to rest – how to breathe deeply and dance wildly. Jesus taught me how to dream with him, adventure with him, and work with him. Jesus taught me how to listen. I’m still walking in the fruit from that resting season.
I want to learn how to take that invitation from Jesus seriously even when my life is busy. Even when there’s a lot of work to be done, I want to be doing it alongside Jesus and not out of my own abilities to hustle + grind. I want to learn good rhythms and still live freely + lightly.
This summer, I’m digging into what Jesus did to live freely + lightly. He’s inviting us to be like him and be with him. I want to learn more about what that means by exploring these habits of Jesus found in the Gospels:
Each week, I’m going to pick one habit, dig into the scripture surrounding it, and then share with you what I’ve learned + a prayer and challenge. I’m calling it the Live Lightly Challenge. My full(ish) thoughts will be popping into the inboxes of those on my Mid-Week More list (join here!). If you just follow along on social media, expect little snippets. Sharing is simply my way to have accountability and to learn alongside you.
Burnout is not the will of God for our lives. I refuse to accept it as a part of life anymore. I don’t want to see myself as doomed to cycles of frantic + exhaustion. I want to live a life infused with the Spirit of God and in sync with the rhythms of heaven.
Next week, we will be starting in with the first habit: Jesus got alone with God. Let me know if you have any resources, thoughts, questions, or ideas you’d like to share!