Burnout is Not a Way to Keep Warm
by Tamara “Tammy” Hall, M.ED
“STOP, DROP AND ROLL” If ever we are on fire, these words of warning are so engraved in our subconscious that our survival instincts will spring into action, sending us rolling to the ground. The three simple words, although rarely needed and arguably dramatic, are indeed life-saving techniques.
I find it an irony of adulthood that the childhood commands, “stop, drop and roll” have morphed into oft used, although ineffective, tools for those facing personal, financial and spiritual trials. Overwhelmed and under-appreciated, many workers and volunteers emotionally revert to an updated version of the childhood directives:
Stop communicating out of fear of offending anyone, even those we love.
Drop out of activities we previously enjoyed and responsibilities we previously embraced.
Roll into a figurative fetal position of fear and inaction.
And yes, these behaviors might temporarily smother the flames but they will not extinguish the fire. 2020 with its polarizing political rhetoric and the COVID pandemic exacerbated our stress levels like athletes binging on steroids.
Given the seriousness of today’s topic, you may wonder why I added the somewhat humorous sub-title, “Burnout is not a Way to Keep Warm.” The answer is simple: people learn more and retain longer if they are enjoying themselves. Discussing even serious topics with laughter does not minimize the pain of a life out of balance. But like the proverbial spoonful of sugar, laughter does help the medicine go down. And most importantly, it’s biblical: “A cheerful heart is a good medicine, but a downcast spirit dries up the bones” (Proverbs: 17:22).
Trust me friends, you do not want dry bones. It’s a sign of death. You show me a person who has lost their ability to laugh and I’ll show you a person who is on emotional life support.
At the height of the COVID epidemic, pro-life workers, volunteers and leaders were defined by many as “non-essential.” How demoralizing. How demeaning. Those who made, shipped and sold baby products were widely considered essential but the people saving babies were considered as disposable as the babies they were dedicated to saving. Our secular society offered political and financial support to abortion centers (aptly described in John 10:10 as, “The thief who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.”) Meanwhile, the same people declared financial and political warfare on those who protect the very children God knitted together in their mother’s womb (Psalm 139:13). The definition of the pro-life movement as “non-essential” was designed to demoralize the very warriors who stand between life and death for the most vulnerable.
How sad. How crazy. How evil.
We are doing God’s work and we must cling to his promise that He will never fail us. He holds us tightly when we weep, He picks us up when we fail and He rejoices with us every time a precious child breathes his or her first breath.
When the burden of stress and burnout threatens to send your life spinning out of control, remember the new and improved version of Stop! Drop! And Roll!
Stop listening to the attacks of the world. Turn off the turbulent chatter and embrace the peace of a quiet prayer time. “Be Still and Know that I am God” Psalm 46:10.
Drop the unrealistic burden of being all things to all people. Focus on those things that glorify God, restore your family and clarify your calling.
Roll with the punches. God doesn’t promise us an easy life. What God promises us is far more valuable: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the fullest” (Psalm 119:13).
God promises us eternal life. He promises to bring justice in His own way, in His own time. (…and lest we forget... Stop Drop and Roll will be totally ineffective against the fires raging around those who reject God’s mercy and grace.)
If you are a part of the pregnancy help community experiencing a struggle right now, please know this: Your burnout and discouragement are real and understandable. Your life is stretched and pulled like ill-fitting masks at a Zumba class.
Nonetheless, you must not give up or give in. God has called you to this work and he will equip you. One step at a time, one day at a time, one life at a time….you make a difference.
Tamara is an award-winning newspaper columnist, radio host and speaker. She has presented in 49 states and 8 Canadian provinces. She was a speaker for the Family Research Council DC Briefing and emceed for President Bush and President Trump when they visited Montana. Tamara authored the gift book, Motherhood: A Noble Calling. This book, beautifully Illustrated by Alora Foreman, is empowering women to embrace the miracle of Motherhood.