As we enter the second half of Lent, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that we are also halfway through the school year. For some of us, this is our first year of college, while for others, it is their senior year, and the work is piling up. I ask myself, “How do we cope?”
What areas of your life have had to take a backseat as you diligently study to become pastors, worship leaders, masters of theology, or doctorates? Is it the area of our home lives? Our marriages, our parenting? Or is it our secondary families, like our parents or siblings? If you’re a hybrid student like me, making time for school comes mostly late into the evenings. And with wee little ones up at the crack of dawn, I am Thankfully, my husband has stepped up with the morning routines, but this has not gone the way I had planned.
Due to the rare illness and constant sickness of my seven-year-old son, we were forced to withdraw our two older boys from elementary school and our three-year-old from preschool. After the Christmas holidays, our dog passed away, and shortly after the beginning of the second semester, my mother succumbed to lung cancer. I am aware that I am not alone.
Others have experienced unexpected illnesses or the birth of new babies, some planned and some unplanned. Others have most likely lost a loved one, or maybe you have just had a lot of colds, flus, or COVID. We have too!
Yet here we are, halfway through Lent, where we are supposed to give something up for Jesus, who gave his life for us. Some may be fasting, trying something new, devoting more of their free time to the church, or volunteering. Recently, I’ve already felt as though I have nothing more to offer. My week of mourning was spent visiting my parents and hospice, and two days after my mother passed away, I developed my first case of COVID. I have struggled to catch up to really focus on my goal of becoming a minister of the word. And not for lack of trying but just lack of time. Praying for more hours in the day isn’t going to happen.
I wonder if Jesus experienced burnout as he traveled far and wide sharing the gospel with anyone who would listen, teaching, responding to never-ending inquiries, and performing miracles for the masses. Making thousands of meals from nothing. There are times in the bible when we know he struggled and escaped to pray and worship to revitalize himself. All the while knowing that his ultimate goal was to die. That gives me motivation to carry on at times. Even with all I am learning at Calvin, the truth is that at one time Jesus was just the Son of Man. And yet Jesus himself was doing all the same things we do and struggling with the same time requirements in the day we have. To know he didn’t give up, gives me the strength to continue on this journey. And I hope it will give you some as well. If, like myself, you’re beginning to feel a bit of fatigue, you may be experiencing a similar situation. To miss carefree moments. Some self care they call it.
Know you’re not alone. Jesus walked a similar path as you, but with many more things on his plate. Not any less than us, but he too walked as a man here on earth, and he was able to set boundaries, make time to spend with his father and glorify him, to pray and worship, even in the mists of all the crowds. Perhaps that is the key to not sacrificing so much of our alone time with God in order to learn everything there is to know about him. Maybe just spending 10-15 minutes a day with him will be enough to keep us going for another day. I often forget why I am going to Calvin, even in the middle of studying and papers, discussion boards, intensives, and all that. It can feel like we are still spending time with Jesus, but it’s not the same as being in a relationship with him. So, for the remainder of Lent, I have decided to put my schoolwork away a bit earlier, despite the fact that I am so far behind, and simply be still and silent with God in prayer, in scripture, in worship, or whatever I feel called to do in order to feel closer to the one who has opened the doors for this chapter of my life. I hope if you’re burning out, you do too. Remembering why we all started this journey, be it your first year or your last, we are all chosen children of God and we have a path he has prepared for us. So we must lean on his strength and grace to keep going and know he will provide that extra hour we need somewhere. But, as Jesus did as both the Son of Man and the Son of God, we must also make time to spend with our Heavenly Father.