Culture

Are you burnt out, bored, and barely rested?

Wendy W. // January 19, 2018, 3:34 pm

Burnt out barely rested

When I started work earlier this year, I struggled with the long hours and intense work. Having been a student pretty much all my life, adjusting to the transition of adulthood was – and still is – painful.

As a TV journalist working 12-hour shifts and weekends, I often go days without seeing my family. Having any semblance of a social life is a privilege.

Burnt out, I constantly felt exhausted from work and having to interact with so many people on a daily basis. So all I wanted to do on my days off was to hide in my room and shun all human contact. I craved me-time: Just me, my ice-cream and Downton Abbey.

Yet I felt guilty for neglecting those around me. So I would arrange meet-ups with friends and family, filling the remaining blanks in my calendar with more outings, gatherings and dates.

I would veer to extremes: Either trying to squeeze in as many appointments with my family, boyfriend and friends as possible, or not do anything at all and binge watch Downton Abbey for the entire day.

But whether I spent my off days in my room alone, or out and about with loved ones, I’d feel just as tired by the end of the day as I would have been at work. It was as if the more “rest” I had, the more unrested and restless I felt.

I soon discovered that my perpetual exhaustion and sense of never having enough time was because I was alleviating my fatigue wrongly through ways like spending time on Facebook or Instagram.

I wasn’t feeding myself with real rest – rest that is lavished upon us from God the Shepherd, who alone gives true peace and abiding rest (John 14:27).

Over the last couple of months of trying to reconcile work and rest, I’ve learned two lessons on taking a break from our fast-paced lifestyles.

1. We were created and commanded to rest

“Rest” is a repeated refrain throughout Scripture. God commands us to get enough rest. From the very beginning in Genesis 2:2-3, rest was made a priority. God Himself created for six days before taking a break, not because He needed it, but to set the standard for us to follow.

And in the Ten Commandments, God established resting on the Sabbath as a requirement of the Law: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8-11).

2. Jesus alone is our rest

But lest we think this refers to mere physical rest, in Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus says: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Our ultimate rest is found in Christ alone, in whom we can cast our anxieties and burdens onto because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7). Unlike in the Old Testament where the Jewish Sabbath was strictly ordained and observed, we have Jesus, who is our Sabbath rest, and in whom we enjoy rest not just once a week – but always.

We find complete rest in Jesus anytime, anywhere (Exodus 33:14). Which begs the question: What does it mean to rest in Jesus? The simple answer is to abide in him.

I believe abiding in Jesus means being intentional about how we spend our free time (Ephesians 5:15-17). It means choosing to spend time meaningfully with Jesus and not wasting our time on worthless and trivial pursuits (Psalm 101:3119:37).

Abiding in Jesus means dwelling, soaking and lingering in His presence. This may take the form of prayer, meditation on His word or worshipping Him in song and praise (Psalm 27:4John 15:1-7Philippians 4:8).

For a while I struggled with feeling guilty about wanting – even needing – to watch the latest episode of Modern Family or The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. While there’s nothing inherently wrong or evil about watching our favourite shows or surfing our favourite websites, we must be careful that such pastimes do not displace our time with God.

A good way of knowing whether you’ve compromised your time alone with God is to ask yourself: Do I desire to spend my time doing or watching this, rather than spending time with God?

In his book, Reclaiming Love: Radical Relationships in a Complex World, Ajith Fernando describes those who swap activity for their identity in this way:

“… they become restless souls, afraid to stop or slow down their frantic pace and busy activity. They work without taking a break because they sense that stopping will force them to confront the emptiness of their hearts. To avoid this, when they do stop to take a break, they enter an imaginary world offered by TV or some other pastime. These experiences, though they can be good when experienced in moderation, are never a substitute for silence in the presence of God.”

If this describes you (it did for me) it may be time to take a step back and do the following: Pray for your heart, asking the Lord to give you the desire to spend time with Him – and delight in Him as you do. If it helps, find a quiet place where you can spend time with Him without distractions. Open your Bible and dive in. Meditate and write down what the Lord says to you.

Now whenever I feel burned out, bored or unrested, I put away my laptop and phone – and pray. I put on my favorite worship playlist. I read the Bible, devotionals and other Christian literature. I ponder, talk to and thank God for what I’ve learned.

I’ve found that an afternoon spent this way gives my soul more rest than an entire day spent enjoying superficial entertainment. And interestingly enough, my desire for saturating myself in social media has decreased to the point I actually feel bored when I do so.

It may sound hard and almost counter-intuitive to read the Bible instead of BuzzFeed, but let’s not give up striving to enter into His rest. For when we do, we’ll find that Jesus refreshes and satisfies our souls in a way no one and nothing else can (Jeremiah 31:25).


This article was first published on YMI.today and was republished with permission.