Beyond Tired: How Exhaustion Effects Everything

As I sit here, I’m in a sort of funk. Have you ever felt completely wrung-out? Just tired on every level? Well that’s where I am today. (But I’m not here to moan and groan, I promise.) Even though this is a lesson I’ve already learned, sometimes it takes re-living it to give the lesson new meaning, and deeper truth. The lesson is simple enough: It’s really hard to remain joyful when you’re exhausted.

I’d call myself a typically optimistic person, except that’s not giving credit where the credit is truly due. My “optimism” (which a lot of my friends and acquaintances find naively endearing) isn’t so much an inherent trait, but rather an all-or-nothing trust I have in the joy and promises given to me by our heavenly father. In my mind’s eye, I read “they that wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…” “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me…” “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose…” and so many other words and verses, shining like tiny little gems, and hidden away in my heart. And those words sustain me throughout my days, and into my long, late nights. In a way, they’re old friends that I can call on at any hour of the day, for a reminder of what is true.

But something happens to me when I’m tired. And not sleepy-tired, but wrung-out tired. Emotionally raw and sensitive. It’s as if my body knows there’s no rest in sight, so it instinctively reallocates resources to maintain its basic operations. I draw into myself, and those warm familiar words in my mind’s eye grow dim, and disappear. And it’s at that moment that I’m the most vulnerable. It’s at that moment that I lose sight of joy, and of the peace that’s being continually offered to me. And that darkness–that sort of brief, spiritual death–is terrifying.

Not to mention that when I’m that tired, all of my flaws and nasty traits flare up: I become judgmental, short-tempered, impatient, anxious, I eat too much/too little, my stomach hurts, and I usually catch a cold. It’s very Dr. Jeckyll/Mr. Hyde, and I’m not proud of it.

So knowing all of this, I feel pretty dense for allowing it to happen. But I’m sure I’m not alone. Most of us (women especially) have bitten off way more than we can chew, continually say “yes” to responsibilities when we should say “no,” and overwork ourselves to the point of physical and emotional exhaustion. What I didn’t realize, until this time around, was how much my being exhausted all the time effected me, spiritually.

Can I really offer my family, and offer God, the best of myself, when I’m this tired? Or are they getting what’s left over after all the work is done? And what kind of message am I sending to my daughter about what a grown woman’s life looks like?  I don’t like these questions much, because they poke me in a sore spot, but maybe you guys can relate? Do you have any habits for refreshing yourself throughout the day that you’d like to share? I’ll try them all. 🙂




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  1. sammi

     /  September 27, 2012

    MJ, when I am on low function status I try to take myself away in my mind, for just 5 or 10 minutes. I love to visualize waving of green grain fields, what for instance as far as the eye can see against a blue sky backdrop ribboned with fluffy white puffs of clouds. The field moves rhythmically in the breeze, bending, gently swaying as in a waltz. and this always refreshes.

  2. Maverick

     /  September 27, 2012

    Hi MJ,
    I guess most Christians struggle to give their best to the Lord in everything we do. As much as we like to help or serve others, we need to realise our own strength , weakness and capacity. Reserving some energy for our love ones and ourselves too. I try to remind myself that we need rest after learning (1 Corinthians 6:19 )(NIV) “Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;”. So we have the responsibility to take care of our bodies not to over strain or injure or cause harm to it. Learning to say “No” ( im still learning) is essential as i serve in a few ministries in church. Ad-hoc tasks here and there , by the time i know it my To-Do-List is overwhelming. Knowing that i will be frustrated and bitter why i did not say “No” to some tasks.
    Well i hope this short sharing is helpful and you will find time to rest physically and spiritually.

    Takecare! Mave (Snowydoggy)

  3. Cstout

     /  September 27, 2012

    MJ, I experienced this just a week ago and a friend called and asked if I wanted to meet. Seems a group of friends were gathering to celebrate a 3 year anniversary for a friend in recovery. I sure didn’t feel like going and I had way way too much to do to be off socializing. But I felt worthless at all this, so I said “yes”. I went I visited (was quieter than normal) and was the first to leave. What is amazing is when I returned to the tasks at hand (where I was before I went to socialize), what I returned no longer seemed overwhelming. It was as if I had a dose of something and it was just the answer.

  4. Not only can I relate, but it’s like I could have written this post myself…The questions in the last paragraph REALLY hit home with me! I started working out on a daily basis, and I’m finding that is helping me a LOT! It gets those endorphins going, it wakes me up, it gives me more energy, and since I’m working toward (and seeing progress in!) losing weight, I am feeling better about myself. That, in turn, makes it easier for me to deal with the other things, even when I’m bone tired.

    • Oh my goodness, you hit the nail on the head. I haven’t worked out in ages, and it’s killing me! I used to be so active, but lately, with all the work and chores and stuff, I never have the time anymore. I keep telling myself that I’ll get to bed at a decent hour, so that I can get up early in the morning to fit some exercise in before Ellie wakes up, but it never happens. I need to get back on an exercise schedule, for sure!

  5. I am smack in the middle of this myself, and finding it so hard to “ignore” (for lack of a better word) my emotions and rest knowing that I am not loved based on my performance (which is dismal at best). An hour-long nap during lunch is no more help than running for an hour during lunch. Going to be at 9pm or 11pm makes no difference in how I feel when the alarm goes off at 4:30am. Ah, but cliche as it is, this, too, shall pass. “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!” 🙂

  6. Karen Hobler

     /  September 28, 2012

    2 Corinthians 12: 7-10….HIS strength is made perfect in our weakness…. It’s a good thing that “HE” doesn’t expect us to be PERFECT! The times of weakness, in my own life, remind me how much I need my Lord……I think that’s the point, don’t you?? Thank you for sharing what we all feel from time to time!!!

  7. Pat Dyer

     /  September 28, 2012

    Just wanted to let you know I nominated you for the One Lovely Blog Award in my latest blog post at Your turn to pass it on!

  8. Marc van Mourik

     /  September 29, 2012

    dear MJ,

    at youtube im not able to watch you last two video’s because im from another country. Im from the netherlands and i would love to still watch your video’s.

    gr marc

    • It was reported that YouTube was having some issues with international views, and I’m not sure if they’ve fixed it yet. Sorry for the inconvenience! I’m sure if it’s not fixed already, they’ll have it up and working again soon. Thanks for letting me know! 🙂

  9. Tricia

     /  September 29, 2012

    You are right- it is hard to focus on the enjoy when the exhaustion feeling strikes. I hope that things look up! 🙂

    One thing that I wanted to share that sometimes I think that some Christians tend to forget- sometimes there actually are chemical imbalances that people face with things like depression and bipolar that plunge people into darkness, which just saying “Snap out of it!” or “Give it to God” or “Remember God is always with you” won’t necessarily be helpful. Sort of like Job’s friends. Trust me, nobody *wants* to feel like that.

    Sitting and waiting, being supportive, and praying for them until the darkness passes tends to work better.

    Anyway… I know that isn’t what is going on here, but it is something that God put on my heart and I wanted to share.

    All the very best!

    • You’re absolutely right about that. And I know, personally, that certain times of year are rough for me. Typically it starts in late September (basically now), and goes through the middle/end of November. I’m sure this has something to do with my feeling easily overwhelmed and “down” recently.

  10. I’ve been reminding myself a lot lately of this verse: “My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). I find that I’m in a better place already when I can just admit my weakness and beg for help from the Lord and those He has graciously put in my life. Praying He’ll grant you rest, refreshment, strength, and joy in the coming days!

  11. Chromatic8

     /  October 4, 2012

    Hi MJ, I’ve been reading a book called “The Willpower Instinct” which God led me to. I felt Him telling me to go to my local library even though there was nothing I wanted and I just happened to notice the exact book I needed at that moment. Anyway, among other tools for augmenting your willpower and sense of purpose, it offers the idea that exercise is even more effective in brief (5-10 minute) intense bursts spread out over the day so you may be able to squeeze a quick set into your morning routine even if you can’t wake up earlier. It also cites studies that doing a bit of it outdoors is a strong recharger of will. I hope this is of some small help to you as your writings have been a major inspiration to me.

    • sammi

       /  October 4, 2012

      This makes great sense to me…thank you it is also what I needed. Thanks much


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