“Please pray. The pain is excrutiating…” was my feeble request to a dear friend and prayer supporter before going on to talk about a commitment she had asked me to prayerfully consider taking on.
In her gracious reply, she promised to lift me up in prayer then offered, “First of all, the last thing you need to do is take on another responsibility…you of all people know what happens when we push our bodies too far.”
I knew she was right. How many times had I told that to my patients? I humbly had to admit, “The pain has been unrelenting and it finally brought out the very ugly mom and wife in me.” How could I have let that happen? I knew better. I gently taught about this very issue to my patients repeatedly.
I had to chuckle at her response: “It’s because the ugly mom is crying out for a break. Please take a break. Remember saying the same thing to me recently? Now it’s your turn to listen to your own doctor wisdom and stop pushing so hard!”
I sighed. How could I argue with that? I remembered sharing with my friend in her own moment of pain how God taught me that lesson. Years ago my body finally broke and said “No more” and left me unable to do, unable to achieve, unable to drive it to the type-A, perfectionistic extremes I was used to pushing it to achieve.
I wish I could say I finally learned my lesson. My body wishes the same thing. Pain is the signal that it’s time for a refresher course. But it never comes at a convenient time. That’s part of the lesson. If we don’t listen to our body’s signals, it will fight to be heard, and not when it’s convenient.
I sat back and glanced in every direction I could see:
-patient files needed reports written for next week’s feedback sessions
-a manuscript beckoned me from my desk waiting for edits
-my blog post calendar had dates that needed posts to fill
-manila folders piled high on my cabinet asked to be filed
-an email glared back at me from my computer screen awaiting my reply to a request to head the next committee season
-a sea of boxes from our recent move stacked high in every room begged to be unpacked
-a pad of paper on my nightstand sat waiting for me to complete the meal menu for company that was arriving the next week
-travel brochures reminded me of the reservations that still needed to be made if we were going to take that family vacation we talked about
-the grocery list told the status of the near-empty refrigerator and mouths to feed
-laundry piled high taunted me with the job that never quite seemed to get done before the cycle started all over again
-my son’s camp registration lay waiting to be sent off with its deposit
-and on and on
How many times in the past couple of weeks had I lamented to my husband about how overwhelmed I felt and how the to-do list scaled higher than the available time to complete it? It left me feeling weary.
That should’ve been my first clue. I knew and taught that weariness is a sign that we’ve been carrying something we were never meant to carry. Jesus offered to carry those worries for us. He offered to take our cares and give us rest in return.
So why do we insist on going it alone? Trying to do it all ourselves? Pushing our body to the limits?
I knew the answer but I didn’t want to hear it. God’s word exclaims that the curse does not come without a cause. My body was responding to the curse. What was the cause?
Sometimes pride and a spirit of self-sufficiency screamed that I should do it all myself, or worse yet that I didn’t need others’ or God’s help.
Other times a spirit of fear led the pack, asking “If I don’t do it, who will?”
At times we give in to society’s message that exhaustion is the newest status symbol, just begging “pity me.”
In further conversation my dear friend and I discussed the need to hold each other accountable. For without it, we were both prone to pushing ourselves beyond our reasonable limits. Beyond what God asks or expects, and in fact, contrary to His word to “cast all your burdens” on Him, and to “come all who are weary and heavy-burdened” to find rest in Him.
“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.” (Matthew 11:28 MSG)
The Lord impressed upon my heart that we cannot possibly live a full and abundant life, drawing others to Him, when we’re practically immobile or broken down because we’ve tried to ignore His mandates.
A broken boat doesn’t sail, any more than a broken body truly lives and thrives.
Yet, if we will heed His commands, we can have His peace, joy, and the abundant life He came to give.
A life surrendered to His ways truly lives.
The fundamental question comes back to, Will we trust Him?
Will we rest in His strength and in turn receive His joy?
Or will we continue to carry the burden alone…the burden we were never meant to carry?
“Now thanks be unto God, who always causeth us to triumph in Christ and who maketh manifest through us the savor of His knowledge in every place” (2 Corinthians 2:14).
What have you been carrying that you need to give to Him today in exchange for His rest, peace, and joy?
Oh Michelle, I am so frustrated with my body at this very moment. I returned home from my mother’s funeral this past week physically exhausted ~ and promptly came down with pneumonia.
Because her death was expected (b/c of a long illness) I really didn’t realize how taxing it was still going to be on me both physically and emotionally.
And now, I too have this list of things that are coming down the pike quickly…my girls coming home for a visit *this* weekend, a leadership retreat (already paid for), vacation, etc., etc. and I’m begging the Lord to heal me!
Your timely post reminds me that I need to rest. Physically and maybe more importantly, spiritually. I’m thanking the Lord for you words today. Thank you for sharing your own experiences and His truth.
Caryn, the Lord gives us the best prescription for life and godliness. We need only to listen and obey. So often I put His admonition on a side burner, focusing instead on my list of to-do’s, only to be sidelined later and begging Him to heal so I can get back to doing. He’s not looking for those who can do the most, but those who will heed His call, and trust Him in all things. Hear Him and rest in Him today. Don’t listen to that lying enemy who tries to instill guilt and shame. Just rest. In. Him. Prayers being raised for you! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
I excused myself from several things this week because the past week and a half have been very emotionally and physically exhausting and I could feel my body demanding a break. Thank you for this encouragement to listen to my body and give myself the grace I need to feel better.
I’m delighted you stopped by today, Rose, and I’m so glad you listened to your body. Our body faithfully gives us signals we need to listen to, but so often I ignore the early subtle promptings, only to pay the price later. So glad you didn’t make the same mistake. Your body will reward you for it, with greater strength and stamina when you need it. Hope Prevails!
No you are not alone. I suffer from chronic pain due to Lupus as well as PTSD and major depression disorder due to an extensive abusive childhood. Pain is always an indicator for me to change directions and slow down as well as to seek God for greater guidance.
While I hate pain, I’m glad God devised a way to alert us to the need to slow down, rest, and reconnect with Him. Sometimes we need Him to be a little louder than that still small voice because we’ll just bowl over that. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
I struggle with this too. I’m afraid I sometimes take perfectionism to a level that isn’t healthy for me but I’m working on it. Thanks for the tips to make the task a little easier. Visiting from Strangers and Pilgrims.
I can relate to the perfectionism part, Rebecca. Again, for me, that means I’m taking on a burden He didn’t mean for me to carry. Glad He gives us clues to course-correct.
Such an insightful post. We all can do better in monitoring our health by being tuned into how our actions are affecting us.
Yes, it’s a matter of being tuned in and not ignoring the early signs before they become big enough to beat us down.
Oh, Dr. B, I hope you take a break….give your body a rest, ask for some help, delegate, and just say “no” to some things. Bless you, dear one, to rest with Jesus. Listen to your body. Listen to its Creator!
Lisa, thank you for your gentle encouragement. He has my attention. I’m seeking to hear those promptings earlier. I pray that by sharing, it will help others do the same.
Such sweet reminders and encouragement…our bodies reveal so much about our hearts! I wrestled with depression last year, and my body and emotions were a huge indicator that something wasn’t right. Choosing to seek counseling and actually deal with it was one of the bravest and best decisions i’ve ever made!
Thanks for sharing this wise post!
Lauren, so glad you were brave and courageous and sought help. It is a brave decision. His word tells us that He wants our bodies to be in health and prosper even as our souls prosper. He doesn’t want anyone in pain or infirmity. So glad you listened to your body! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
It’s taken me a long time to learn the gracious art of saying ‘No’–and sometimes I forget (and my body usually does a bang-up job or reminding me). Thank you for the reminders to rest in him. We were never made to be superheroes.
You’re so right Anita – we were never meant to be superheroes. But unfortunately today, it seems that the newest status symbol is to be able to say how busy and exhausted we are. It’s time to get back to basics and listen to the truth He gave us, then obey. So glad you learned the gracious art of saying “no.” I’m still learning. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Oh this is just such an important message for ALL of us women especially, as we tend to attempt to do it ALL- every day, while ignoring our body’s cues for rest! You described it perfectly, and the encouragement you shared is so insightful and inspiring. Thank you for this reminder, this nudge to listen to our bodies and seek His outstretched arms to find rest.
Yes, Christine, I’d have to agree. It’s a word for all women. We’ve fallen victim to the lie that we can do it all, and that we should try. That’s not God’s call. He says His yolk is easy and His burden is light. So when it doesn’t feel that way, I have to ask myself what I’m doing that perhaps I don’t need to do. Instead, He calls us to rest in Him.
Thanks for sharing again at Together on Tuesdays. We’re glad to have you each week 🙂
So blessed by the opportunity. Blessings to you!
Great read exactly what I needed thanks for sharing!
Heather, I love it when our Heavenly Father does that. And here I wondered if these words were just for me. Glad we’re in this together, but even more glad He offers the solution so we don’t have to stay here! Blessings!
My fibromyalgia reminds me when I’m running on fumes. I’ve cleared my agenda for the next 3 days to “crash.” Your post was affirmation. Regardless of what I “know” to be true, there’s that guilt that is a constant companion.
I can understand pjkuhn. But I can assure you that the guilt is not from God. He promises there is no guilt, shame, or condemnation for His children. He loves you and He calls to you to rest in Him. Take Him at His word. He is faithful.
Very convicted -and encouraged- by this! Thank you and blessings! #TellHisStory
MBethany, come on in the trenches with me. I was convicted and encouraged by the revelation too. But oh so grateful for His mercy and grace. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
I tweeted every quote because I love this so very much. Is this what one would call “preaching to the choir?” Dr. Michelle, every burned out woman (and not burned out) needs to read this. Rah Rah – YAY this post.
You’re right on several accounts! Yes, I was preaching to the choir. I never quite know if the words He prompts me to write are just for me, or if they will strike a chord and encourage someone else. I pray the words in this post will help someone else make the necessary changes early instead of having to learn the hard and painful way, as I have. You’re also right that every woman needs to read this. Even if they can’t personally relate, I guarantee they have a sister, friend, mother, husband who needs the truth. Let’s spread the word and heed the warning signs together! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Michelle, I was just reading about the power of forgiveness when it comes to being of sound body and mind and your post just seems to speak right to that. When we are obeying the Lord with all our heart and not walking in areas outside of that we experience health in every area of our being. I am going to stand with you and say I will trust Him. I will love Him with all my heart. I will surrender to all His ways.
Jeannie, I know that to be true. One of the blocks to healing in any area of our life is unforgiveness, bitterness, and resentment. The curse does not come without a cause, and unforgiveness is a cause. God says if we do not forgive others, He will not forgive us. If we do not trust Him, we will experience anxiety, worry, fear, physical problems. Why do we choose those things? I’m with you: committed to trusting Him with all my heart, surrendering to His ways! Let’s do this thing together Jeannie! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Michelle, Thank you for your post. I have been battling exhaustion for awhile now. Life situations have forced me to go at a rediculous pace for the last four years and about a year ago, my body began to crash. I am trying to figure out how to balance life and feel I am making progress. I give it all to the Lord each day. I know that my best is more than enough for Him, but I still have to put up my armour every day to fight off the enemy as he whispers that I’m not getting enough done. I have three children with the youngest have major mental and physical special needs. She was adopted 4 years ago with her special needs unbeknownst to us. However, God is walking us through this and picks me up every time I crash. I pray consistently for Him to fill in my gaps … and I know that I know that I know He does!
So glad I found you at #JoyHopeLive!
Blessings and smiles,
Lori, I can relate to your story. The same happened to me a couple years ago. I worked over 100 hours a week, pushed myself beyond what my body is capable of. It literally almost killed me. I know those whispers you speak of but they are not you-they are from the enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. I still hear them, but I’m much better now at telling them to shut up, and reminding them that I am a Daughter of the Most High God, and that He has commanded me to give Him my burdens and rest in His complete provision. Now before I even set my feet on the floor in the morning, I ask God to show me what He wants me to tackle for the day, and give me the strength to do it. Do I mess up? Sure…you just read about it in this post. But I’m so much quicker to recognize it, confess it, and get back on course. You will too, Sweet One! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Wow! What a wise and very practical post about overdoing it! This is great stuff! I’ve tweeted your post, and I am going to add it to my FB wall today.
I found you on the SHINE blog hop, and I’m really glad to find your site.
My husband and I both are in ministry, and we see so much exhaustion in pastors and wives. (Including us~)
Thanks for these wonderful reminders.
Melanie, I have a very tender spot in my heart for you and for pastors and wives. As a mental health professional, I know the demands placed on us to carry the burdens of others, and I know how hard it is for us to find someone to go to when we have a need. From that, the Lord showed me the same to be true for those in ministry. It’s my passion to help be part of the answer. If I can be of any help, I hope you’ll stay in touch. God doesn’t need burned out saints-He needs rested, equipped warriors! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
This is very, very true. Myself, and I think people in general, often neglect this piece of our lives as we’re so wrapped up in other things. If we don’t take care of our emotional and physical health, it can inadvertently create a barrier between ourselves and God. It’s crazy how all three aspects (physical, emotional, and spiritual) of health work together.
I know this to be true Jesse – both from personal experience, but also from seeing it in the lives of my patients. God did not give us His instruction just to hear Himself talk. He knew what we needed and what would be best for us. It’s time to listen to what’s truly important and obey. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Our to do lists are pretty much exact! I often find myself piling on every opportunity bc it’s an opportunity and find myself worn down. Thank you for this perfect reminder. I have been so overwhelmed with work lately that I’ve forgotten that I’m supposed to be enjoying doing ministry. I tend to be a workaholic and take something that is perfect and ruin it with good intentions.
Thanks for linking up with #JoyHopeLive I always love reading your posts. Oh and when that manuscript does get completed I will be the first in line for an autographed copy!
We could be sisters Hope, and we are, in Christ. I’m well-acquainted with the workaholic pattern. But that doesn’t come from God, it doesn’t even come from us. It comes from the whispers of the enemy who tells us people will be mad at us, or people won’t like us or won’t accept us, or won’t find us worthy, or, or, or. You get the picture. It really comes out of a spirit of fear. But God has not given us a spirit of fear. He gave us power, love, and sound mind! Once I realized where that tendency came from, it made me more determined not to let it rule me. You can see I don’t have it perfect yet, just by reading my recent relapse. But I’m quicker to identify it, repent of it, and get back on track.
Your sweet words bless me. If you’ve enjoyed the recent posts, I think the book will bless you because it’s much more of the same…my own story, with my professional training thrown in, and the truths God has taught me to change my life for the better. I look forward to hearing your thoughts after you read it 😉
So many truths here. I find it amazing that an accountability partner or group adds peace and time instead of taking more. Last year I sought an accountability partner, and she made a huge difference in my life. And I was further refreshed as she said I made a difference in hers.
I love Matthew 11:28-30 in the Amplified version:
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will relieve and ease and refresh your souls]. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and blessed quiet) for your soul. For my yoke is wholesome (useful, good–not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and my burden is light and easy to be borne.
I love that version too, Debbie. I find that for many things, an accountability partner prevents us from deluding ourselves and stepping back into the unhealthy zone. For some reason we seem to forget that God sees all, but knowing we are going to have to “confess our sins one to another” helps in the day to day. So glad you found that to be true too! Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
This was such a good post, Michelle. I have realized that whenever I share a nugget of wisdom with a friend, the real purpose for it is so she can remind ME of it later on! I like how you said when we feel weary it is because we are carrying something we were never meant to carry. That is so true.
Aimee, I know what you mean. In this case I could hardly argue with her, as she was feeding back to me “doctor’s orders” 😉 Not only does weariness mean we are carrying something we aren’t supposed to carry, but we are commanded to GIVE HIM our weariness. Turn it over. Not take it back. Exchange it for something better, something sustaining. That’s my intention…not to pick it up in the first place and when I mess up, turn it right back over to Him. Blessings!
I’m reading through the #ThreeWordWednesday posts now and yours is the second I’ve already read about rest. Perhaps God is reminding me about something … 🙂 Thanks for linking up!
Kristin, I love when God does that. If it’s not for you, perhaps He’s arming you to share the truth with someone else in need. He’s so good.
What a wonderful reminder and so key to heed. The Lord wants us to rest in Him. I recently returned from a blog break because I was feeling overwhelmed. It was amazing how in that time, the Lord healed my mind and soul.
He wants us to trust Him with everything… especially our health.
Thanks for sharing (and for linking up to the #SHINEbloghop).
Wishing you a lovely day.
Jennifer, I’m so proud of you for taking a very necessary break. Overwhelm should be one of our first clues our body is giving. He wants to use rest to renew, refresh, and heal us–physically, spiritually, and emotionally. Thanks for sharing your testimony. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Again I am moved by your words! What have you been carrying that you need to give to Him today in exchange for His rest, peace, and joy?
Thank you for sharing this with us. Stopping by from Reflect
Sweet Jann, your comments always bless my heart. Thank you for being a faithful reader! Blessings!
Thank you for the friendly reminder. When the mountain of tasks is too high to scale, time with the Maker of mountains gives me new perspective and a plan to conquer it.
Absolutely love that perspective and plan of action, Lisa! Blessings!
I love the reminder here that Jesus will carry all of our burdens if we let Him! There is one time that I can think of where my emotional pain was so bad I thought surely I would die of it. As soon as I started running after God (and I didn’t have to run far, because He runs towards me, too!), I felt a real sense of freedom. Thanks for encouraging others, Michelle.
I have been at that place that you describe, Laura. Isn’t the freedom that comes from running to God amazing? Thank you for sharing your testimony. Because of Him, Hope Prevails.
Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us at good Morning Mondays. Thank you for the encouragement to give everything we are dealing with to God. B lessings
I’m so glad you stopped by! Blessings to you.
Your words come exactly at the time that I am reflecting on the very same things in my own life. God speaks not only directly to each of us but through others. Thank you for being another person to remind me of the importance of rest and how God wants that for each of us. Blessed as always to have you sharing at The Weekend Brew.
Oh sweet Mary, that brings joy to an already joy-filled heart this morning. I’m so blessed to know His words to me have ministered to you as well. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
I can totally relate to this. I’ve suffered from constant pain for a year an a half now from a work injury. It’s frustrating to suffer and the to-do list simply doesn’t understand. Thank you so much for sharing. #SmallVictoriesSundays
Jessie, I’m so very sorry for your pain. That’s incredibly frustrating for sure. Hold fast to Him. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
The list you shared, could have been mine. I am the queen of the to do list, the never ending load of laundry. I’ve worked hard to incorporate my one word 365 “slow” into my life this year. It’s helped. The responsibilities haven’t changed but I’ve taken the pressure off myself to fulfill them all…every day. I do what I can and let the rest wait. Thank you for reminding me to offer myself continued grace in this area and for linking up this week at #GiveMeGrace.
Lisha, we cannot give what we do not have. The good news is, He has given us abundant grace, so we can give it to ourselves and others. I like your word for the year. Mine last year was “rest.” It brought me back to trust. This year He gave me “boldly courageous” and again it brings me back to trust. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
I am grateful for this message of hope today. I will take a break this week. I am currently caring for my mom who has an diagnosis of dementia. This is the third time I have read the words take a break so I know it’s God. Thank you. Please pray as I am asking God for a reliable steady helper twice a week.
Teresa, I’m so glad you are giving yourself permission to take a break. He doesn’t want you to be weary in doing good. I will be praying for you as you care for your mother, and as you seek assistance in that regard. You may also find this post of comfort: https://drmichellebengtson.com/loving-a-parent-with-dementia/ Because of Hi, #HopePrevails!
I am so appreciative of this message. I am also a type-A, and struggling with chronic pain. Thank you for the invitation to rest. I love the wave background too. via Grace & Truth
I’m so glad you appreciated this post. I know many type-A individuals who also struggle with chronic pain. I think so often we don’t even recognize our body’s cues that it needs rest, and in our type-A personality we just plow on ahead to “the next thing” then “the next thing” then “the next thing.” I pray you take Him up on His invitation to rest. He can do more during our time of rest than we could do in all the time available to us. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Thank you so much for post. I have been struggling big time since my dad died in January.
I’m so very sorry for the loss of your father! That’s so hard. Being no stranger to grief, I’ve written quite a bit about it in recent posts and Ask Dr. B columns. You might find some of them helpful. Just remember that everyone grieves differently, and there is no set schedule or time frame. I’ll be praying that you invite Him into your grief to comfort you during this hard time!
I can totally relate to pain and exhaustion. I have had fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome for the past twenty-three years. Thank you for your uplifting post. I’m glad you shared it with Small Victories Sunday linkup!
Tanya, I’m so sorry you’ve experienced such debilitating conditions. I pray you will continue to see His goodness in the midst of such pain. Because of Him, Hope Prevails!
Excellent article! With a people pleasing temperament, and caring for a depressed and challenging 86 year old mother, I often feel weary with all the classic signs of caregiver burnout after 15 years. As a Christian, then the guilt comes which adds the spiritual and emotional exhaustion with the physical. Every day I am trying to remember to surrender to God. I can’t do this on my own strength and know He is able to strengthen me to do what He calls me to do.
I can hear the fatigue and weariness in your words. None of us can do life in our own strength, and when we fall under the delusion that we can, we are really just falling for a lie of the enemy. The hardest times, but sometimes the most rewarding and growth-filled times are when I have surrendered to Him because I could not do it in my own strength. I pray He undergirds you with His strength. Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
Thankyou for this. My struggle with fear keeps me from letting go and letting God. And I feel like I have to give Him the struggle over and over. Sometimes more then a hundred times a day. And eventually my heart finally lets go..