Why my to-do lists are NOT the real reason I’m exhausted

What do you say when someone asks how you are? Good. Fine. Hanging in. Exhausted? Exhausted is the most common response I give, but sometimes I can upgrade to a solid “tired,” instead.

Can you relate to that?

Whether it’s from caring about small children, caring about someone that’s unwell, caring about your career, caring about world affairs or just straight up caring for your covid-world self — reasons for exhaustion are in abundant supply, aren’t they? Usually, it’s because we care.

Unless of course, we decide we don’t care anymore, because caring is too dang hard. Either way, the things we care about have this capacity to crush us.

Lately, I’m wondering how much of my exhaustion is my own doing. Probably way more than I care to admit.

Am I Exhausted Because of Me?

Something interesting popped out of scripture to me.

Reading scripture is part of my relationship with God – which still amazes me is even a thing. I love how I can spend my whole life reading God’s words to us and they still speak to my heart in fresh new ways. If you’re not sure God really did give us any words of wisdom… I get that. See what you think of this.

Jesus is quoted saying:

“Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Matt 11:28

The Greek word for “rest” here also means to refresh or to take ease.

He will refresh us. He will give us ease. Sounds nice, right?

Sure, I believe that on a spiritual level. But let’s talk practical. What happens to my career when I “come to Jesus”? And what happens to my to-do list? And the kids and bills and the house and the side-hustles? Clearly, Jesus doesn’t do those things for me – so how can he refresh my to-do’s or give me ease in parenthood?

Rewind a second.

Why do our burdens feel so heavy? So… Exhausting?

How can He give us rest from things without doing them?

Perhaps we are trying to find in these things something never meant to be found in them. Control. Purpose. Significance. Worth. Or name what matters to you.

Does excellent work give you significance or does perfect parenting define you? Does high productivity give you worth or a predictable schedule give you control?

Why my to-do list was not the real reason I’m exhausted

Acts 3 jumped off the page at me recently.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord…

Acts 3:19

Repent. Turn. Rethink… so that times of refreshing may come?

How have I not connected these dots before? Turn from my ways and turn to God’s ways not just for forgiveness but for refreshing. For rest.

How often is it my sin, not my to-do’s, exhausting me? My sin, my shortcomings. My wandering from God’s way.

You and I naturally desire comfort, security, significance, purpose. We all need those things… I don’t know a warm-blooded human that doesn’t.

How often does our striving like it all depends on us exhaust us?

Especially when those things are already freely offered.

Put another way, how often is it really my own sin – my wandering from God’s way – that’s heavy and exhausting?

Anything you and I care about has the capacity to become a burden when we bring our deeper needs and desires to it.

We care about our children, but they can’t define our purpose. We care about our world, but it can’t define our security. And we care about our relationships, but they can’t define our worth. And we care about our work, but it can’t define our significance. Those ways will exhaust us — those are not God’s ways.

Our deeper desires are heavy things to put on our professional life, productivity or parenting. It means when we don’t perfectly [ fill in your blank ], then what? We don’t just have a missed sales goal, a meal-flop, a messy car or a status of ‘single’ — we have hopeless insignificant worthlessness.

Whoa. No wonder we’re exhausting ourselves trying to do it all. I know, I’ve been there. I’m a recovering do-it-all-er.

What deeper need or desire are you trying to fulfill through something you care about? What would it be like to bring that to Jesus?

Laying down burdens, turning from old ways, going to Jesus, none of it means quitting everything and not caring about anything. It means following a new way, the way of Jesus, where wholistic worth, purpose, significance and more is refreshed. Where rest is found. *sigh*

Sinking that message from head to heart is hard but key. ? ? ☕️

Interested in learning more about Jesus? Check out this youtube video about where the Gospels (the accounts of Jesus’ life) come from.

Does any part of this resonate with you?

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