“The run”

I am preparing for a talk I’ll be giving to the LifeGroup Leaders at my church in a few weeks on stress and caring for ourselves. Doesn’t it seem like leaders, who are supposed to be insightful and wise when it comes to managing their lives (seeing as they’re helping others to do the same) are some of the worst offenders of not taking care of themselves? It’s like doctors and nurses who step outside the hospital to smoke on their lunch break. Really?!

I’ll admit, I was pretty bad at caring for myself for many years. I spent most of my 20’s running… running from loneliness, running from my own thoughts, running from a job I didn’t like, running to friends, running to a future spouse I hadn’t yet met, running to this nebulous vision of what could be. Have you ever gone running? It’s tiring.

Eventually I hit a wall. Hard. And I fell flat on my face. And to my knees for the first time in a long time. Since I was unable – unwilling – to stop on my own, I was forced to stop. My body gave out. My mind stopped thinking as clearly. I started having panic attacks and wanting nothing more than to hide under the covers of my warm, cozy bed and stay there. Alone. Which is odd because that directly contradicts the deep need I was trying to fill with all the running.

I heard a story recently of a woman who was burning the candle at both ends until finally she received that dreaded diagnosis. Cancer. If that doesn’t cause you to slow down and do some self-evaluating, what will?

What causes us to take this approach in life? Run, run run. Don’t stop. Don’t feel.

I think it boils down to fear. Fear of slowing down enough to allow yourself to be known. Fear of not being good enough, helpful enough, productive enough. Fear of being alone. Fear of feeling guilty or having to ask yourself the tough questions in life.

I have no answers. I rarely have answers. Just more questions and more of that uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach that comes when I am at a loss.

I think the answers are worth searching for but painfully difficult to find. It can be frustrating and confusing but the thing that brings me comfort time and time again is knowing I am not the only one to be wrestling with them. If I was, other people all around me would not be experiencing the same kind of burnout and the same persistent searching every day. The run.

We rest in knowing we are not alone.

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