I have officially decided to drink more tea. Today it’s Sweet Ginger Peach in the old Caribou Coffee mug.
Earlier, I sat down to blog and thought I might cry. So, I decided to vacuum the house instead, still a bit tender from a recent experience I have only rarely encountered in several years as a Christ follower.
You may or may not have noticed it’s been over a month since my last post which celebrated a wonderfully successful kickstarter campaign for my next album, NO LONGER MY OWN (read blog below entitled ‘What God orders, He pays for…Merry Christmas to me!’).
So, why all the emotion and call for more hot beverages? I shall attempt to explain.
I’m not entirely sure what constitutes burn-out, but I think I may have reached that point sometime around the holidays. One definition of the term is to cause to fail, wear out, or become exhausted especially from overwork or overuse. I think the hectic pace of life, work, and ministry simply caught up with me. And the usual things I would normally do to find renewal didn’t seem to be working. I was stuck and am now slowly, but steadily, working to reverse that.
The first tip off there may have been need of some serious sabbath came when I burst into tears while reading the Streams in the Desert devotional dated December 23, the eve before Christmas Eve. It was a beautiful poem by Ella Conrad Cowherd. Nine stanzas in length, it is much too long to post here, but a few stanzas will give you a taste…(and I hope you’ll read the rest during one of your own quiet times with the Lord).
I’m too tired to trust and too tired to pray,
Said I, as my overtaxed strength gave way.
The one conscious thought that my mind possessed,
Is, oh, could I just drop it all and rest.
Will God forgive me, do you suppose,
If I go right to sleep as a baby goes,
Without questioning if I may,
Without even trying to trust and pray?
Will God forgive you? Think back, dear heart,
When language to you was an unknown art,
Did your mother deny you needed rest,
Or refuse to pillow your head on her breast?
Six more stanzas and I was ruined, burrowing myself deep inside my winter robe to somehow simulate a holy snuggle with Jesus. I didn’t want to do anything but get lost in Him.
That was the first crack in the armor. The second came among close friends on Christmas Eve. After the tradition of white bean chili and cheese and crackers, we settled in for an always meaningful time of fellowship and sharing…how we’ve seen God work this past year, our biggest challenge, our hopes for next year, etc.
As you might expect, it was my absolute joy to give God the glory for His great provision for the new album. It was no small thing to raise twenty-five thousand dollars in just thirty days, and this right before Christmas. I delighted in sharing how mightily God had worked and there was plenty of rejoicing.
The mood turned suddenly, however, when my mouth formed the words, “I just need to figure out how to rest.” I barely completed the sentence when I heard myself break into heavy, almost uncontrollable sobs. Yes, the big, ugly cry. It seems in all the traveling, pouring out, promoting, administrating, social networking, and bill paying, sufficient rest had eluded me. Perhaps it was an emotional release years in the making or even a tinge of post-divorce grief that still manages to leak out here and there, even in the happiest of times. I don’t fully understand it, but I definitely became more self aware that night and was met with nothing but compassion, prayer, and understanding. Safety breeds vulnerability.
Back at home, still contending with coming to the end of myself, I woke up one morning and scribbled out a whole page of words and feelings, with no concern for rhyme or order, just getting it all out on paper. It was quite therapeutic, actually. And the next thing I know, I realized there was a song brewing. I don’t mind being broken as long as I get a good song out of it! It’s probably the most angst-ridden lyric to date. But, it’s real. Authentic. And, as always, points to God, my Source, my Sabbath.
So, yes, lately I’ve been drinking more tea, getting more sleep, relishing more Bible reading, and slowly, but steadily, God is renewing a right spirit within me. I am holding Him to Isaiah 40:31 – “…those who hope in the Lord, those who wait on the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.”
I’ll be in the studio the first week of February. Lord willing, I’ll be well rested and ready to embark on a new season of ministry. And, yes, you’ll get to hear the new song. And now you’ll know the story behind it.
Thanks for listening.