It may sound strange, but for me, exhaustion is welcome.
Years ago I had a job with a 90-minute commute each way. Getting there was never the issue; it was the return trip. I knew that when I finally pulled up in front of the house, two little girls would be waiting for me. They wanted my full attention; they wanted all of me. There was dinner to fix and dishes to wash and laundry to do and stories to read. On top of it all, my husband unintentionally expected me to read his mood, respond appropriately, and meet every need. (I’m tired just remembering this!)
Anyway — the closer I got to home, the more weary I felt — the exact opposite of what I wanted and needed. I began to realize that with every passing mile, I became less myself and more the person I needed to be for him. Bottom line: there was a huge-and-growing gap between who I really was and who he wanted me to be; and to be clear, I allowed, perpetuated, even reinforced this for a very long time. That was the exhaustion! Not the drive or the girls or the dinner-prep. I expended a massive amount of energy being someone I was not so that I didn’t have to deal with my fear of what would happen if I was fully myself.
My exhaustion became a form of discernment. It drew me toward what deserved my attention, truth-telling, and courage. When we eventually divorced, it was hard, but NOT exhausting. And that was data in and of itself!
Now, whenever I hear myself say, “I’m exhausted” or more likely, “I’m weary” I whisper a prayer of gratitude. It’s a gracious and generous alert to acknowledge what deserves my naming and care.
A vast percentage of what makes us exhausted is feeling like we shouldn’t feel exhausted. Our efforts become fixated on not feeling the way we do, instead of allowing, even welcoming, all that we feel and discovering what longs to be strengthened, healed, let go, and more.
- Identify and then let go of internalized beliefs and external messages that tell you exhaustion isn’t allowed (or worse, that it somehow means you’re lazy).
- Take a deep breath and tell yourself the truth about exactly how you feel? Write it down. Journal it out. Click your heels together three times and say it out loud, “I feel _______.”
- How might exhaustion be your check-engine light? What is it indicating? What relief might be yours if you could name and address such?
When you allow your exhaustion — even welcome it — it makes room for something “more” to be seen, felt, and honored. Chances are high that whatever that is, it won’t be exhausting at all; rather, honest, redemptive, and empowering.
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