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FATIGUE

February 24, 2021
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As I type this, we’re nearly a year into what was supposed to be a 14 day national intervention to mitigate the impact of a virus none of us had ever heard of and knew almost nothing about. That was the start of a very long and vexing season. Vexing on so many levels.

People died from Covid 19. The report I most recently saw was half a million people. Millions of people were infected and hospitalized. More millions were ill from it and many more millions were exposed and confined to isolation and confinement because they were potentially contaminated, and could have been infected and/or contagious.

Businesses (nearly whole industries, in some cases), schools, sports on every level were completely shut down. A large number of the business that were shut down will not reopen.

Depending on what part of the country you live in, the shut-downs continue. Debbie and I have friends in Germany and the Czech Republic, and the shut-down there is even more severe there than it is here.

Two big things (thought there are more than two things) have come from all this, I think. First of all is frustration. Second, fatigue. They are actually sometimes joined at the hip. If you’re frustrated for very long, you will get fatigued. When you’re fatigues, your threshold for frustration is low. Way low.

I had a conversation with a young mom the other day who was worm smooth out. She was on empty. I could see it in her language – verbal language and body language. I could see it in her affect. She and her family live in a part of the world where lots of “virtual learning” happens. Actually, in her opinion, there’s more virtual than there is learning. She was done. Frustrated. Fatigued.

My oldest daughter is a 1st Grade teacher. She’s had to do “virtual instruction” through this crisis season. It took more work and more emotional energy for her to do this than to show up every day in her classroom and teach an over-sized group of kids in person.

Nobody in the “virtual” loop has had it easy.

Working from home sounded kind of nice at first. And for a little while, it was. Drinking your own good coffee. Snacking out of your own fridge. Wearing your sweatpants. Pretty good, initially. But it didn’t take long for that to wear thin. After a pretty short time, it wasn’t fun anymore. Can I get an amen?

I occasionally come across blogs that promise unique and effective ways to keep from getting fatigued, ways to never let your tank get empty. I’ve come across them, but never read them. I think they make a promise they can’t deliver on, so I don’t bother. My experience (and the experience of a pretty good roster of authorities) is that you can’t keep your tank from going down to “E”. The truth is, there’s no way to totally prevent fatigue. So if you’re looking for a formula for not getting fatigued, you’ll want to be done with my blog right now, because I don’t have that. Sorry.

What I want to ask you to think about with me is what to do when you’re running on fumes, when you feel you’re being held hostage by fatigue. You’re feeling it. Your family’s feeling it. So here we go.

First of all, and most important of all, take what you’re feeling – not an explanation for what you’re feeling – to God. Pour it out. It doesn’t even have to be articulate, and it certainly doesn’t need to be poetic. King David was a poet, and although he used poetic language, he had no trouble telling God about his fatigue. In a couple of places, he wrote about feeling weak. Look at Psalm 6:7 (NIV)  My eyes grow weak with sorrow; they fail because of all my foes.

Here’s another one that sounds a little similar and way familiar. Psalm 31:9-10 (NIV) Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.

Second thing: Ask God to do what you can’t do for yourself. Ask Him to restore your soul (as in Psalm 23:3). Offer it sincerely. It’s a prayer He wants to answer. God understands your fatigue. The shepherd knows the sheep. So ask Him for this.

Next thing: Go to bed. Right. OK. Go to bed earlier. Turn off the TV and retreat to bed. You’ve got little kids, though. The only time you have any time to yourself is when they’re in bed. And on lots of days, this is the only time you can get anything other than taking care of them done. OK. You don’t have to go to bed 2 hours early. If you can get in bed a half hour earlier, that’s a win, even if a small one. Think through what keeps you from going to bed earlier and figure out what you could do to push those things out of the way, at least for a week. You might be surprised at what that will do for you.

Next: Breathe. Deeply. Most people don’t. Most of us are shallow breathers. Especially under stress. When you’re fatigued, you’ll be breathing shallowly. Intentionally take 5 or 6 deep breaths. You may want to do it while sitting down, in case it makes you dizzy…

A couple more: Listen to some soothing music. Not everybody is a music aficionado. I get that. But almost anybody can figure out how to settle in with something that feels good to them. If you’ve got a computer or a smart phone, you won’t even have to buy CDs for this. Poke around on your web browser and find free recordings to play back. Let the music sooth the savage beast in you.

Last one: Start or end the day – or start AND end the day – with Scripture. Just a few minutes with God’s word can reorient you and refocus your heart and mind. My favorite part of the Bible for this is the Book of Psalms. If you have a smart phone, put the You Version of the Bible on it as an app. It will make it easier to get your hands on the Bible. Go to your app store or Android store and search for You Version. You can put this on your tablet and on your computer, too (https://www.youversion.com/the-bible-app/). If the feel of print on paper is good for you, get your Bible and put it where you can easily get to it.

These things won’t make everything all better, but they can help you get a little fuel back in your tank.

From → Marriage

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