In my life, I’ve experienced three significant seasons of being emotionally burned out. Or what I call soulical burnout – meaning, not only am I emotionally burned out, I’m also mentally burned out and experiencing a loss of efficacy. To lose efficacy is to say what I’m doing in life doesn’t work anymore. I’ve run head-first into a brick wall.
What is Burned Out?
Well, there are numerous ways to define burnout. Scientific ways. Psychological ways. And on and on. But in living through my experiences with being emotionally burned out, I’ve come to define burnout as adversity for my own good.
A season of adversity, our loving God allows for our good to draw us to him in a trusting relationship.
Okay, time out. Cause I can hear the turmoil start to build in your mind and heart. Because maybe you were taught God is harsh, impossible to please, and punishing. Or perhaps, like me, you were abused and traumatized as a child, which skewed your view of God and made it almost impossible for you to believe he loves you. But that’s all lies of the Enemy.
Truth is, God never allows adversity to punish you or because he’s angry with you. Adversity is never intended to shame you or condemn you. No, God’s intentions are always to draw you and secure you. To nurture you and love you. Heal you and rewire your faulty mindsets and beliefs.
Looking back and reflecting upon each season of being emotionally burned out, I see three overarching lessons – gifts, actually. The first season of emotional burnout’s gift, Life. The second season’s gift, Trust. And the third season’s gift, Collaboration. But here’s the thing, the second gift and the third gift I most certainly would have missed without the first – Life. So let’s start there.
Something Missing From My Life
Have you ever noticed how people have a tendency to burn out right at the moment they’ve achieved a pinnacle of success? Think about it. It’s easiest to see with celebrities. But for sure, the same pattern can also be seen with entrepreneurs and overachievers.
It was 1996, and all of my dreams and the goals I had been pouring all of my passion and energy into had finally become reality. I was living in the opulent world of haute interior design…rubbing elbows and working with people I had read about in Architectural Digest and swooned over in movies.
I remember driving down the Dallas Tollway thinking that life was sweet and certainly couldn’t get any better than this. But two years later, I began to sense that something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it exactly, but my life felt like an illusion. I felt empty, unfulfilled, and lost. Like there was something missing from my life.
How can it be that you can seemingly have everything and still feel empty? All your dreams and goals fulfilled and yet feel unfulfilled? On top of the world but have the nagging feeling you’re lost?
A Season of Adversity for Your Own Good
In Rome one day, I became overwhelmed with this sense of lostness. I remembered reading about The Steps of Christ in Rome, and so I spent hours walking around searching for them. I just knew that if I could stand where Jesus had stood…I would surely find some answers. Of course, at the time, I had no clue that Jesus had never even been to Rome. Nonetheless, I found what I thought were the steps and sat down.
I told Jesus that I knew something was wrong…I didn’t know what…but there was something missing from my life. I felt awkward trying to convey the mess in my heart and mind. But in a moment of clarity, I declared, I don’t care how you do it, but Jesus, would you please rescue me?
A week later, I was back in Dallas, back in my office. June 2, 1998, early in the morning, life changed. In one day’s time, I was betrayed by one of my dearest friends and business partner, stolen from, and both my husband’s and my primary source of income were stripped away. My life had been an illusion, and now the deception of it all came crashing in. The breadth of the betrayal left me broken and inconsolable.
Months later, in search of hope, my husband, Larry Dale, suggested we check out a new church, Bent Tree. Over the next several months at Bent Tree, I remember hearing over and over again about God’s unconditional love for me…and this word grace, which means unmerited favor, kept popping up. The pastor, Pete Briscoe, would often say, God is crazy about you! Each and every time, my heart whirled in wonder, Really? Could that be true?!
A Whole New Life
So LD and I decided to follow Bent Tree’s newcomer path. We went through orientation and then scheduled our John 3:16 meetings…which I thought was some type of legality to joining Bent Tree’s membership. I met with pastor Rick Wisner, and after several minutes of getting to know you conversation, things turned more serious with a most curious question, If you were to die today, on a scale of 1 to 10, how certain are you that you would go to heaven?
Hmmm, I begin to internally ponder, Now who would be stupid enough to answer 10? Hmmm, 9? No way. 8? Nope. 7? Maybe. 6? Too low. Finally, I concluded and gave Rick my answer, 7!
Well, I’ve started attending church. I read my Bible some but don’t really understand it. And I try to be a good person. So, yeah, 7.
And then, this I’ll never forget, Rick looked me straight in the eyes and, with a tender boldness, said, Sandra, don’t you think it’s pretty arrogant of you to think that you could have anything to do with your own salvation? If you could save yourself, why did Jesus need to die?
Those words shook the very foundation of a staunch belief that it was indeed up to me to save myself. To finally, one day, figure out a way to good-girl my way into the heart of God.
But God used Rick’s tender boldness to open my eyes to the truth, Sandra, don’t you think it’s pretty arrogant of you to think that you could have anything to do with your own salvation? If you could save yourself, why did Jesus need to die?
There was something missing in my life…Life! Jesus was in Rome with me that day. He heard my cry. And he rescued me in the one way I would have never imagined I needed to be rescued. After my John 3:16 meeting, I floated home – all feelings of emptiness and lostness puff, gone.
Grace, Not Your Own Doing
Whoever has the Son has eternal life; whoever does not have the Son does not possess eternal life. I’ve written this letter to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you will be assured and know without a doubt that you have eternal life.” 1 John 5:11-13
In a LifeWay Research study, 56% of evangelicals believe their personal effort is necessary for salvation…for Life. Which sounds like this, One day, surely I’ll figure out a way to be good enough to earn my way into the heart of God. Do you ever think that?
Before March 2, 1999, the date of my John 3:16 meeting, I believed in the historical facts about Jesus. I intellectually believed in Jesus. But personally trust him? No. I was still lost – trying to earn my way into the heart of God. Trying to earn God’s love. Trying to be good enough to earn Grace.
But fortunately, grace is the exclusive work of Christ. Perhaps you’ve heard for decades that Jesus died for you, but like me, somehow, your ego still fights to be involved. And in doing so, you create your own version of the gospel: Jesus plus my efforts to be good enough.
But that is not the economy of Grace.
Pastor Pete would often say, Construct a Jesus of your own imagination and miss him altogether. When your ego adds the need for your efforts to the Gospel, the Good News of the Gospel, Grace – God’s unmerited favor slips through your fingers.
Sandra, don’t you think it’s pretty arrogant of you to think that you could have anything to do with your own salvation? If you could save yourself, why did Jesus need to die?
As I sat there silently absorbing Rick’s words, God began to illuminate the truth of Grace in my mind. And I had this thought…
Jesus died for me. For me, personally! There was a moment on the cross, a nanosecond when Jesus thought of me! He knew the life I would live. He knew the choices I would make. And yet still, he chose to die for me!
Enter into Relationship
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9
If you’re emotionally burned out and you don’t already have a personal relationship with Jesus, this is the first step to healing. Remember, being emotionally burned out is a season of adversity, God allows for your good to draw you to him in a trusting relationship.
You, my friend, have a heavenly Father who is crazy about you! Who in this very moment is longing for you to say, Yes! I want a relationship with you, Jesus.
Jesus died for you. For you, personally! There was a moment on the cross, a nanosecond, when Jesus thought of you! He knew the life you would live. He knew the choices you would make. And yet still, he chose to die for you!
Dear Jesus, if my friend has read this far, thank you for that. Thank you for drawing them to these words. Now, move them from an intellectual belief in Jesus and into a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus. Rescue them from the arrogance of believing they can one day earn their way into your heart. Rescue them from the arrogance of believing their sins are too many or too dark for your Grace to cover. Open their eyes to Grace that they may believe in the name of the Son of God, Jesus – and receive a whole new Life – stir their faith to cry out to you, Yes! I want a relationship with Jesus. Amen.
I’m listening. And would love to hear your thoughts, comments, or questions. And if you said Yes! to a relationship with Jesus today, I would LOVE to hear your story!
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Do you know someone trapped in the folly of trying to earn their way into the heart of God? Do you know someone who believes their dark past excludes them from the Grace of Christ? Please share this post with them.
Thanks for stopping by! Until we meet again, remember – Trusting in Jesus, you’ll have more treasure than pockets. From my heart to yours,