I think the thing that’s been on my heart most these days is burnout. I know I’m not the only one to feel this way – I think everyone, but especially my generation, is starting to feel suffocated by it. I know for me, it’s created an exhaustion so deep I can feel it in my bones, in my chest… I’m constantly weighted down by the feeling that I’m doing too much, yet I’m not doing enough; that if I set boundaries for myself and say “no” even when I know it’s best for me, that I’m lazy and irresponsible. At the end of the day I know I’m going through the motions to survive the days and all I have to show for it is feeling like another average face in a crowd of a society trying to simply survive. I start to feel invisible, even to myself. I guess that’s why I decided to title this post “out of sight,” because I feel like the burnout, the exhaustion, the repetitive lulls of the day becomes so routine that I don’t feel important enough to be noticed, not even by my own mind.
I know I’m not the only one feeling this way. I’ve had friends open up to me (on their own, without knowing what’s been going on in my mind) about their own struggles of feeling like their “all out, all in” isn’t enough; that they exhaust themselves striving to get to a place that they’re proud of, that they’re passionate about; something that would give them a testimony to inspire and help others… but yet they start to feel helpless themselves. Frankly? It sucks.
I can’t speak to what it felt like for the generations before me. Success takes work – I know that. But in my young adult life, I’ve noticed that the bachelor’s degrees that a handful of us work so hard for isn’t enough; it takes postgrad degrees or years of experience, which, to me, seems like it requires knowing exactly what it is you want to do with your life off the bat, tying yourself into experience before you know if it’s even something you’re passionate about. Some people are fortunate and know – I didn’t feel as lucky. I switched degrees and still had to trial-and-error my way into discovering my passions. You might finally get that coveted degree, only to be swimming in student loan debt, and then perhaps you find yourself working multiple jobs to make ends meet and make up for the experience that you didn’t before.
I work full time. I teach at a gym part time. I go home, sometimes to do free wellness coaching sessions with my friends so I can start gaining experience before I justify turning it into tertiary income. Let’s not even mention the constant disarray of my apartment, my dog who longs for my attention, the friendships I feel like I’m abandoning, the hobbies that I love but no longer feel like I can invest in because exhaustion, physical and mental, affects me in my core. I’m really thankful that today I managed to muster up the energy and motivation to write this. Blogging is an outlet; a public journal, you could say, in hopes that my transparency resonates with someone who feels the same and needs to know they’re not alone.
One of the best things about this year is that I did start a reading plan, The Bible in 52 Weeks. I love it. It’s allowed me to get plugged back into one of the things I missed the most – reading the words of God, remembering His heart and everything He’s done for me… for everyone. The margins of my once empty journaling bible is filling up. The thing I love about the Bible is that passages that you’ve read over a million times can have a new impact; you can see something in it before that you might have missed. One of the overriding themes, albeit cliche, is that God’s timing is key. Sometimes I feel like it can simultaneously be the most comforting yet irritating concept (and I feel like I’m not alone in that).
The thing is, trusting His timing doesn’t mean sitting still. That’s like showing up at someone’s door, without knocking, and expecting them to know that you’ve arrived; or even telling someone you’re on your way to meet them but in reality you’re still laying in bed going on your second hour of scrolling through TikTok. If you don’t get up, if you don’t move, if you aren’t intentional, you can’t expect opportunity to land in your lap. Intentionality will always precede results, even with God on our side. For example, Moses had to intentionally walk away from his identity as Pharaoh’s grandson to reconnect with his Hebrew heritage in order to follow the powerful plan God had laid out before him. It wasn’t exactly an easy road if you know anything about Exodus and Numbers. In fact, it was a long, drawn out, infuriating process. But that doesn’t mean that God’s promise didn’t follow through.
We might not be leading a large group of people through deserts and wilderness and wars to reach a promise land, but if we think about it, that’s how our hearts feel sometimes, right? We can see what God has promised, the vision he’s given us, but, to put it simply, sometimes we feel like we have to go through mental and emotional hell to get there. So, to tie this all together, I believe that every young adult is struggling with the societal and professional expectation of “if you’re not all in, then you’re out.” We all want to do something meaningful with our lives, but the tone has been set – you can be successful, but you have to bend over backwards to get there; you have to say yes to everything because “no” feels like it equates to “I’m not passionate enough” or “it’s not important.”
My hope, not only for myself, but for my peers, is that we can learn to find balance. That we don’t believe the lies that try to tell us that we need to sacrifice our well-being to get ahead in life, to make something of ourselves. It is okay to rest. Even if we’re not yet where we want to be, we are where God needs us to be, because He knows us better than we know ourselves. He sees our heart, even when we feel like everything about us is unseen, and knows what’s before us that we can’t even perceive yet; that the standstills we feel ourselves at now are molding us into exactly who we need to be for when our vision finally becomes a reality.
I think it’s funny that as I was reading through the book of Matthew that I noticed something I had never even thought of before. Leading up to his crucifixion, it’s no secret Jesus was overwhelmed, troubled, and full of sorrow. He prayed “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me” (Matthew 26:39). And even on the cross, he cries “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen and why – but these passages makes Jesus that much more relatable because despite the insight that he had, he still hoped, prayed, cried that God’s timing, His intervention, would come through before it was too late, much like he did with Abraham and Isaac; that his faithfulness and obedience might be enough for God to jump in and say “this was a test, good job you passed!” Jesus, the Son of God, practically crying “deliver me, don’t let this be my reality.” Of course, as we know, Jesus did die, but that he was risen despite all odds, despite the efforts the Roman guards and officials put into place to try and intercept God’s plan.
When God has a will, there IS a way, no matter who tries to hinder it. If God had intervened before Jesus actually died, sure, it would have been powerful; but how much more powerful is it that what was literally dead, for days, was brought back to life, despite all the odds? As much as I hate to relate this to our own lives, I have to: as great as it would be for God to throw everything we want right in our lap off the bat, wouldn’t you admit that the success, the triumph, the breakthrough is infinitely better when you know that you’ve persevered and trusted to the other side? Rock bottom isn’t pretty. I hate it there. But I have to admit that the strength I acquire from navigating the mess is worth it when I know it’s molding me into who God needs me to be right now, a year from now, 10 years from now.
I urge you to find balance. Condition yourself to be okay with rest, to be okay with the knowledge that you are a work in progress. Even Exodus 18:17-23 emphasizes the importance of not wearing yourself thin. But don’t be idle, either – prepare for the future, even when you don’t know all that it entails, by being diligent today. Not when you get in that relationship, not when you get that promotion, not when you’re finally reaching the top of where it is you want to be: be diligent today. Don’t compare your progress to anyone else’s. You don’t know their “behind the scenes,” you don’t know the trials they have faced or are currently facing, you don’t know that because they’re “successful” before you that it means they are more successful than you are or will be. Remember that cliche Sunday School line, that we’re all the hands and feet in the Kingdom of God? That we all serve a specific and unique purpose, assigned to us by God himself? And if you want to take it a step further, the references in Esther about “being made for such a time as this?” Your life, your vision, your direction, your current state of being is not on accident. It might not be pretty, but it’s not on accident and it’s not without a purpose.
“God bless you and keep you, God smile on you and gift you, God look you full in the face and make you prosper.” Numbers 6:24-26