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When exhaustion steals your joy

I am tired. I am to the bone, utterly tired. My eyelids sting with the weight of a nap that will not come for several hours and my limbs ache. I think we all feel this way, some of us more often than others. We find exhaustion creeping in to the very spaces of our body, taking residence in our limbs, our hearts, and our minds.

Friends, we don’t always have to be physically exhausted to FEEL exhaustion.

Exhaustion can come in the form of a tired soul. After negative experiences wear us down, we can find ourselves feeling exhausted at the mere thought of trying to be joyful. To feel positive among a sea of negative circumstances is not only difficult, sometimes it can feel near impossible.

I understand how exhaustion can steal joy, because I have been there. I have felt so tired, so overwhelmed with the stresses of circumstances out of my control that I felt as if I constantly wanted to sleep. Sleep was comforting and did not demand my attention. Sleep was the one time within my otherwise hectic day that I found solace. Sleep allowed me to quiet my thoughts, those doubts that would crowd my mind and convince me that I was failing in every aspect of my life.

I was not a perfect mother, because I was running on empty. I devoted my time to a full time job, over the course of eight hours distributing slices of myself to others, leaving my family at the end of the day with a shell of a person who had no energy left to interact. My children found me irritable. I felt an incredible sense of guilt as I watched my children’s faces collapse in disappointment, when I requested a nap rather than read them a story, or play a game with them.

I was not a wonderful wife either. I did not prepare meals, or interact with loving words and kind gestures towards my husband. In my angered state, so tired with the world, I found my moments spent on edge, wanting to retreat to time with myself, rather than spend time with my husband.

In those moments, in that season of my life that at the time loomed overhead, feeling as if it were never going to cease, I was joy-less. I was like an epidemic friend, and I infected everyone who surrounded me. I noted, in their faces and in the way that those closest to me carried themselves, that I was infecting them with my negativity. My exhaustion was stealing their joy.

Friends, I know there is no simple remedy for curing exhaustion. Exhaustion of the body can often be alleviated with a long rest. Exhaustion of the mind can take far longer. But they are both similar in the fact that rest can help.

I rested my tired heart in God. I realized, one evening when the weight of the world seemed to be crushing me, that I could not do it alone. Friends, as the stream of droplets from the shower head washed over my worn down body, the rivulets of warm tears falling from my eyes combined with the flow of water, and I prayed for guidance. I prayed for an end to the negativity that had riddled my life. I cried for patience and for forgiveness. I cried as I asked of Him that he show me the next move to make. I cried until the water became cold and my physical body matched the condition of my heart.

He answered, in a way more striking that anything I could have ever dreamed of. He removed me from a toxic environment, the very environment that was wearing me thin and stealing my joy.

Friend, look around you. What is exhausting you right now? Is there something physical that is wearing you thin? Is it a person or a situation? Or is the force that is stealing your joy less tangible? Is it your very thoughts, convincing you that you are not worthy or deserving enough? Whatever factor or factors it may be, I urge you to pray to Him. Ask Him to remove anything not sent by Him. I guarantee that you will be astounded at the difference this simple prayer makes in your life.

I was so tired, for far too long. But now, I find after many difficult nights and trials that felt as if they would shatter me, I feel well rested, comforted in the fact that I no longer have to do it alone.

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Conversations with God

We visit often and yet, I’ve never met Him in person. It will, hopefully, be many years until I do. He finds me in the quiet moments of my life, folding laundry, or rinsing out the cups of milk or juice dismissed from a long abandoned meal. He finds me in those moments before bed as my head lay on my pillow, quietly recounting the moments of my day where I felt as if I excelled, and rewinding the moments I wish I could do over, like a coach replaying a game tape for his team. He finds me in the busiest parts of my day, where I can find myself getting overwhelmed at the length of a particularly long line, or a large crowd, and He calms my anxiety.

We talk often, and though most of our dialogue is unspoken, I know He hears my words. I can see his answers to my questions in the moments of my day, the way he continuously provides for myself and my family. He encourages me to encourage others also. Together we stumble across a quote on pinterest, or a story online that we feel like sharing, letting others know that this seemingly negative season of their lives too shall pass, and that they are worthy of good things.

We share these things, and even though I’m not sure if I’m reaching anyone when I do, I know the ways in which He wokes, and I’m hopeful that I am reaching someone too.

He reaches me through the power of prayer also. Sometimes I wonder if what I think are His calls are actually my own thoughts, but I dismiss the notion when I receive an email, or a text, confirming what I have been asked to do, and I know that He is asking me to pray for someone. He thinks that I can have an impact on that person’s life, and so I pray. For their health. For a season of abundance and security. For their lives. I pray, and when I send these silent prayers up to Him, I know He’s listening, taking mental notes.

Recently, I felt a very strong urge to pray for someone. I was sitting on the rocking chair in our living room, reading a book about spiritual encounters (Chicken Soup for the Soul: Messages from Heaven), when I felt a very strong, almost uncomfortable urge, to pray for someone. I say uncomfortable because it was so powerful, so overwhelming, that I was honestly taken aback. I have always prayed for certain people when I start one of these conversations with Him, but I have never, never had Him come directly to me, and prompt me to pray for someone else. The first time I dismissed the feeling, and continued reading my book as my children played rambunctiously in the background. And then, He urged me again. The feeling was stronger this time, and so I prayed for this person. I’m not sure what the outcome of my prayers was. While this person is a part of my life, we don’t have the opportunity to talk often. But I know this. I do hope that whatever I was being called upon in that moment to help heal, has happened.

I know that after that experience, I found myself confused.  I wondered why He had chosen me to pray for this person, and what purpose I was supposed to serve. I didn’t understand. Then this morning, our doorbell rang. It was a UPS delivery for a book I requested several weeks ago to be delivered, and had since forgotten about.

The title of the book?

Finding your way back to God.

I don’t believe in coincidences. I honestly think that this book was delivered at this time when questions swirled in my heart, because He knew just how to soothe them, and how to answer the things I wondered about.

In our conversations, I often ask Him for signs. Signs that I am doing things correctly, in the plan for my life. Signs that I am the best person that I can be. I think that today, in receiving this book, he was sending me the sign He knew I needed.

We find each other in our conversations at the most random of times. I typically do most of the talking. But today, and in the moment he asked me to pray for the other person, He was doing the talking. And I couldn’t help but listen.

 

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A purposeful life

For many, words are simply the tools we use to communicate. Words construct text messages and convey feelings. Words have meaning, but aren’t always meaningful.

For others, words are the instruments we use to encourage. To motivate, inspire. To change lives and change feelings.

Recently several individuals have been brought in to my life, at critical times in theirs. I have wondered, upon different occasions, how I can help them. I know that they are being introduced in to my life for a reason, but I have been unclear as to what that reason is. I have prayed, silently asking for signs and other indicators of what my purpose may be.

Then, I realized exactly what the reason was.

My words.

I have always been an awkward person in every sense. I feel like I have gangly arms and carry myself in an uncoordinated way. I have never been the most popular, nor the prettiest, but I have always been able to express myself confidently using my words.

I realized that these people were being introduced in to my life so that I could show them encouragement. I could use my words to guide them through their weakest points.

Last year, when I was facing a multitude of negative events in a seemingly never ending series, I could have benefited from the kind words and encouragement of another person. I could have felt comforted in the knowledge that negative situations and negative people do not last forever. It ‘s truly amazing what knowledge like that can do.

So, in those moments when I question my purpose for these people, I am reminded. That rather than impact with grand gestures or monetary donations, I can impact with my words.

And I’m hopeful, that if I have been able to reach, and inspire even ONE person, that I have made a difference, and lived my true purpose.

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