4 Quirky & Possibly Spiritual Things I Do When Burnt Out

9524613_sWhile sitting in class, while answering emails, while preparing a message, while texting my wife, and while sipping caffeine I heard the professor say, “You’ll get tired in the ministry, but never get tired of the ministry.”  His words stopped my multitasking, I nodded my head and couldn’t help but smile at God’s masterful ability to whisper loud and clear in my mess.  Burn out is a real threat in my life and here’s a few things I do to fight it.

1.  I Go Somewhere.  Today, I’m at a coffee shop and while the same task list sits in front of me, it helps a ton to just get some distance and perspective.  If I’m in a dark place, I take a special trip to Alki beach and there’s this coffee shop where God and I have met before.  If things are beyond dark and I can’t sleep, I head to the Shari’s diner in Totem Lake.  I order a terrible cup of coffee, a dutch apple pie, and have it out with God.  I know it sounds simple, but having these places in my back pocket as places God has a reputation of meeting me have been huge over the years.  I can retreat, find refuge, and be restored.  They have become a sort of altar for me.  They are steadfast reminders of God doing something big and are a ever present reminder that he could do something big again.

2.  I treat myself.  When my task list, meetings, and stresses drown me, it’s easy to start feeling like a machine.  I kinda get numb to it all and just move from one problem and person to the next.  It’s easy to lose your humanity in moments like these.  However, taking a moment to buy an ice cream, turn off my phone and just enjoy it quietly restores something very important inside.  Maybe it’s going shopping, or getting a pedicure, or just vegging out to shark week but whatever you do, do something.  You’ll feel more human afterwards if you do.  As a pastor, I sometimes have to perform funerals and they emotional strain is really brutal.  My wife makes fun of me for it, but she knows the best medicine after a day like that is to let me watch a Sci Fi original movie.  I relax, laugh, and get up from the couch less numb and more human.

3.  I Get Quiet.  I learned early on in marriage that most conflict arises when one of the partners is either hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.  (It also makes a fun acronym, H.A.L.T.)  This simply points out that when stress overwhelms we direct our frustrations outward toward others.  I’ve gotten better at shutting up in moments like those so I don’t accidentally wound people I love.  There’s a place for venting but if I’m not careful, this can  spill out on everyone around me and do unnecessary damage.  By getting quiet, I let Jesus have his way in me and I can better uncover what changes need to be made.

4.  I Become Simple.  Probably the most important thing I do is remind myself of what it was like when Jesus first met me.  For some strange reason, he always brings me back to this picture of 9th grade when I was sitting on a railing in between classes with some friends.  We were swearing, being loud, and making fun of everyone that walked by.  I called a girl fat as she passed by and I’ll never forget the hurt in her eyes.
I was dead inside.
Jesus found me and breathed life into this angry, punk kid.
Going back to those days gives me incredible perspective.  I see the stress, people, church, and problems for what they are.  My relationship with Jesus is lifted out of the peripheral and brought front and center.  I am reminded of what Jesus invited me into before life got complicated and his simple invitation stands true.  I become that punk kid he found all over again and nothing else matters.  I am loved and that’s enough.

The Art Of Knowing

I’m grieving the loss of Robin Williams this morning.  As a tribute to a remarkable actor, I wanted to share his brilliant monologue from my favorite movie, Good Will Hunting.

maxresdefault“So if I asked you about art, you’d probably give me the skinny… on every art book ever written. Michelangelo? You know a lot about him. Life’s work, political aspirations. Him and the pope. Sexual orientation. The whole works, right? I bet you can’t tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling. Seeing that.
If I ask you about women, you’ll probably give me a syllabus of your personal favorites. You may have even been laid a few times. But you can’t tell me what it feels like to wake up next to a woman… and feel truly happy.
You’re a tough kid. I ask you about war, you’d probably ah throw Shakespeare at me, right? “Once more into the breach, dear friends.” But you’ve never been near one. You’ve never held your best friend’s head in your lap… and watched him gasp his last breath lookin’ to you for help.
If I asked you about love, you’d probably quote me a sonnet, but you’ve never looked at a woman and been totally vulnerable. Known someone that could level you with her eyes. Feelin’ like God put an angel on Earth just for you, who could rescue you from the depths of hell. And you wouldn’t know what it’s like to be her angel, to have that love for her be there forever. Through anything. Through cancer. And you wouldn’t know about sleepin’ sittin’ up in a hospital room… for two months, holding her hand, because the doctors could see in your eyes… that the terms “visiting hours” don’t apply to you.
You don’t know about real loss, ’cause that only occurs when you love something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much. I look at you. I don’t see an intelligent, confident man. I see a cocky, scared shitless kid. But you’re a genius, Will. No one denies that. No one could possibly understand the depths of you. But you presume to know everything about me because you saw a painting of mine. You ripped my fuckin’ life apart. You’re an orphan, right? Do you think that I’d know the first thing about how hard your life has been – how you feel, who you are – because I read Oliver Twist? Does that encapsulate you? Personally, I don’t give a shit about all that, because – You know what? I can’t learn anything from you… I can’t read in some fuckin’ book. Unless you wanna talk about you, who you are. And I’m fascinated. I’m in. But you don’t wanna do that, do you sport? You’re terrified of what you might say.
Your move, chief.”