Elizabeth Reardon ponders the importance of following Jesus' example of combating burnout with solitude and prayer.
Physically and mentally exhausted, and having just navigated through a harried drive home, I slumped through the door. Admittedly this extroverted people loving person was not in the mood to be in community for the rest of the evening. Since being a wife and a mother total isolation is never a true viable option, I needed a Plan B. Unfortunately, I had determined that this master plan would have to wait, as dinner would not make itself.
As I worked, however, I began to reflect on the days prior and just how I had found myself in this unpleasant state. I had allowed project deadlines, emails, and unexpected conversations to wear my customarily sweet disposition down its foundation. Truthfully, I was beginning to feel much like the weathered statue of Mary that sat in my backyard looked. Though clearly resembling the beautiful image of Mary, time and environment had chipped her exterior paint and weathered parts of her revealing a rough texture underneath. Well loved and remaining a figure of grace, humility, and faithfulness, she had endured many a New England winter. Accordingly, she needed a new coat of paint and a grotto again, and I could not help but see that I, too, needed the same.
For he will conceal me there when troubles come; he will hide me in his sanctuary. He will place me out of reach on a high rock. (Psalm 27:5)
This is when I remembered my spiritual director’s advice.
It’s ok, in fact necessary, for each one of us to take time away to get away and be with God. Scripturally, time and time again we see Jesus seek this respite to pray, connect and renew with His Father. (Read Mark 1:35, Mark 14:39, Luke 5:16, Matthew 14:23, and Luke 6:12 for examples.) And while I am certain He considered the apostles good friends, perhaps He also needed this time to discern how best to lead them, given their unique personalities, gifts, and limitations. Whether it be a desert, mountaintop, or seaside, the demands of the world around us compel us to find this space in the midst of our daily life.
We, like Jesus, need this time to care for our souls so that we can begin to love others as God loves us. While the conversation might entail a good deal of self righteous complaining, without a doubt I usually discover moments where I have missed the mark that day. Things said or thought out of frustration instead of prayerfully considering. Instances where I lacked compassion or allowed the circumstances to steal my joy and peace.
Yet God does not seek us to remain in a state of desolation over these misgivings but in prayer is there to guide us to learn and discern. Here God speaks, a burning flame reminding us how very much we are loved and His promise to always be with us. He lovingly leads us from a darkened state of exhaustion and frustration to an openness to imagine and consent to the life He has planned.
Today, Father, I seek to rest in your embrace. I offer up all of my concerns, irritations, sorrows, hopes, and fears. I know that you can handle all of these and oh, so much more. A brokenness made beautiful and whole. You love me as I am, yet call me to an incredible life in You. Thank you, Father, for this time to be recreated anew. Lead me now to serve you with a renewed purpose and a spirit of joy! Amen.
Copyright 2021 Elizabeth Reardon
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About the Author
Elizabeth Reardon is Director of Parish Ministries and Pastoral Associate for the Collaborative Parishes of Resurrection & St. Paul in Hingham, Massachusetts; a wife and mother of three; certified spiritual director; and writer at TheologyIsAVerb.com. Her writing is an invitation to seek and create space for God in the midst of the busyness of everyday life.