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My Burnout Led to a Breakthrough

A difficult family situation led me to my true calling.

In Jeremiah 17:9, the Lord explains the way of our hearts: “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?” This passage elicited a sense of relief for me: I must not be the only messy person. It also made me frustrated: Who can understand the heart? I saw the truth of this passage come to life before my very eyes, and I had no idea what to do.

The Lord goes on to say in verse 10, “But I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” As much as I tried to hide from myself, there was no hiding from my Creator. God, amazingly, was not surprised by my messiness. I came to understand that the messy parts are the very things he loves about me because that’s where the real me resides.

Discovering My True Identity

During a time of retreat, I clearly heard God ask me to step down from all of my ministry roles. I immediately tensed up, which revealed how much my identity was tied to my role as a leader. I heard God’s whisper inviting me to let myself be loved just for me. Thankfully, I said yes.

Over time, my brother stabilized and decided that he wanted to live. I was able to believe that God really did love me for me, not what I did for him. That understanding formed a new foundation in my heart. It was a long process and involved many hours of counseling, spiritual direction, cry sessions with friends, and continual reminders that God really did love me.

From this place of love and humility, I was able to enter back into ministry. While old beliefs still battle to be heard, they don’t hold the same power they once did. Even on days when I fall back into old ways, the Lord calls me back to him. I find regularly practicing times of silence, spiritual direction, retreat, and authentic community keeps me grounded in my true identity—a child of God. As a child loved by God, my call first and foremost is simply to abide in him (John 15:1–11).

Ignatius of Loyola said “all is gift,” meaning that although many circumstances in life are painful and confusing, there’s nothing beyond the grace and redemption of God. I now see that season of burnout as a gift. It’s still a place of pain, and I wouldn’t want to relive the experience. Yet, through that season I was given the opportunity to catch a true glimpse of my complex heart and to be loved by God.

November09, 2015 at 8:00 AM

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