How Burnout Saved My Life

As a psychology student, our lecturers taught us that we could no longer tell our patients that they were experiencing a nervous breakdown. Rather we had to sugar coat and watch our weighty words and instead speak of burnout, which is precisely the same thing as a breakdown. Burnout is a breakdown of the emotions, the body, and the mental state due to prolonged stress and trauma, this results in an intense inability to cope.

I had my first taste of burnout in 2009 and then I had burnout again in 2012. I prefer to call it a nervous breakdown, because that’s what it felt like, a breakdown. A month after I collapsed emotionally, I fell ill and found myself in bed for a few months. A few months that changed my life. I had experienced everything that is on the burn out list, except I had experienced them all at once. Job loss, relocation (from the city to the countryside), I had lost my support systems and I was trying to help my husband through an intense season of depression.

Added to this I was in my master’s year studying Psychology and writing an intensive thesis, I was serving on a charity board, counselling and smiling while being a “pastor’s wife.” Just writing up this list makes me tired and anxious.

But while I was in bed, removed from all these things I would often sit outside on many sleepless nights and stare up at the stars. It was so beautiful and while I sat there quietly wrapped in my blanket I would cry in to God’s arms and feel His warm Love slip over me tangibly. It was in God’s arms where I found the courage to break. I didn’t have to keep it all together anymore, I simply allowed myself the joy of breaking. I learned the secret that David once wrote about, The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

God was my nursing lover who never left my side through that painful time and as He nursed me physically with the promise of healing, He nursed me emotionally and spiritually as well. He took the bandages off some really wrongly bandaged wounds and taught me how to listen, to listen to myself. He taught me about boundaries and how to establish strong, healthy Godly boundaries. He taught me how to stand firm and the closer I drew to God in those months, the closer I drew to myself and to the image of God within me.

Through my burn out I became more whole. The one thing God really did teach me was about the value and the love He has for me. I had a theological understanding of my worth and value to God, most people do but it was never truly real to me. Through my nights of deepest anxiety and brokenness, He knit me together with the duct tape of Heaven’s eternal value. He gave me a crown, both spiritually and naturally (I was sent a crown in the post, no jokes!) and today I walk around with the assurety that I am a princess and not a pauper.

During those months there was a movie quote that greatly encouraged me in that leg of my journey. It is from the South African movie Tornado and the Kalahari Horse whisperer. It says “it takes pain to heal the pain, Tornado (the horse) doesn’t need you all shiny and perfect, he just needs you and that is enough.”

God wants me and you, not perfect, just ourselves. He longs for us to go over and sit with Him on a water tower far above the maddening crowd and enjoy the sunset of life with Him. He wants to loop His arm around you and that’s enough. God didn’t want me to pain but He took my pain and healed pain through it.

I am more aware of myself today and I have so many factors in place now and every promise that God gave me in that season, He fulfilled in due time. I even completed my Master’s degree through the burn out and that was a miracle in itself. Losing my job prompted me to join the ministry with my husband and we were ordained together in the same year.

So precious sister, God knows and He doesn’t want you perfect. He just wants you and He knows how you keep on going, how you keep on serving soup with those perfectly manicured nails but underneath lies a weary heart. He has you, let Him lead you and one day, maybe soon or maybe in a while, together we can turn around and bless the fields the locusts tried to eat. Because they are going to explode and produce a harvest of crops that will release depth of delight in to your heart!

Psalm 126: 5 – 6

“Those who plant in tears will harvest with shouts of joy
They will weep as they got o plant their seed but they will sing as
they return with the harvest.”

*****

Through my nights of deepest anxiety and brokenness, He knit me together with the duct tape of Heaven’s eternal value. Where have you seen Heaven’s duct tape? Where could you use some right about now?

 

Photo Source : Unsplash

15 Comments

  1. Danielle Wheeler March 10, 2015

    Aliyah, this post is just gorgeous.  It’s gorgeous for it’s real vulnerability and it’s powerful, life-giving truth.  This line: “It was in God’s arms that I found the courage to break.”  That is such a paradox. We think that breaking is weakness, but it’s actually courage.  It’s courage to admit we are not enough, to stop fighting to be enough.  And it’s trust.  Because it’s trusting God to be enough for us, in us.

    Thank you for sharing your brokenness.  More to come from me on all of this on Friday. 🙂 But yes, I’ve definitely been experiencing heaven’s duct tape.

    1. Jennifer March 11, 2015

      “the courage to break”, and the courage to feel the pain, and recognizing that this can be a very real part of real healing. In hearing that I was reminded of some teaching I heard a couple of summers ago when I spent some needed time in Chicago, a long way both from China and from Australia. The fact that being prepared to feel the pain, and being prepared to allow God to touch the deepest points of pain, and bring real healing at that deep level, rather than seeking to minimize it, reduce it, was in many ways essential, and challenging as it is, not a bad thing, has been a lesson I have been living the reality of for the time since then. Challenging beyond measure at times, but good nonetheless.

      1. Aliyah March 12, 2015

        Hey Jennifer.

        Thank you for sharing this, it’s so true isnt it. God knows so deeply the pieces of our hearts, we can be real, not reduced, but rather more whole. Thank you for this, it is challenging, something I hope we can put in place in our lives. God bless you! Aliyah

    2. Aliyah March 12, 2015

      Hey Danielle 🙂

      Thank you so much – your words are so encouraging today. Yip I agree with you so much, the courage to break, I am still learning all about it. So many times we have this pressure on us to stand up, be strong, get a grip girl or just keep trusting but it’s in our weaknesses that God’s strength is perfect right! I am so glad you have been experiencing Heaven’s duct tape, I sure need some as well! Thanks for this wonderful community of encouraging stories and heart whispers that we can all share, thank you for YOUR heart for this community. May God richly bless you!! Aliyah

  2. Amy Young March 10, 2015

    “I simply allowed myself the privilege of breaking.” Now if this message will resound loud and clear through the body of Christ (and then from us to the world). This is part of the hope we have to offer. Thanks for sharing Aliyah :)!

    1. Aliyah March 12, 2015

      Hey Amy! AMEN! I hope it resounds loud and in our ears, we are just humans, with a SuperHuman God. It’s where we often end (where we have nothing left) _ where our Great God begins! Father help us find the courage to be real, in the hard times and in the good times!

  3. T March 11, 2015

    Wow.  Thanks for writing this!

    1. Aliyah March 12, 2015

      Hi T.

      It’s an absolute pleasure, thanks for reading! Numbers 6: 22 – 27 for you today! Aliyah

      1. T March 13, 2015

        🙂

  4. Mel March 11, 2015

    I love this. “The courage to break”. It does take courage to break and then to trust that God can put the pieces together, and not only that He can, but that He WILL. Thank you for being vulnerable. Such a beautiful piece.

    1. Aliyah March 12, 2015

      Hi Mel, thank you – I just want to give you a big hug.

      Thank you for your words today – it was a step for me to share this vulnerable piece but I have been so blessed by it, thank you for your compliments! May God bless you in your walk and shine His amazing Light on the path of life that you are working, may He continue to work in you, in Love and Pure grace! You are a blessing Aliyah**

  5. Shelly March 17, 2015

    “I simply allowed myself the joy of breaking” also hit me. How soothing it is to be able to do this not only in God’s presence, but also with a trusted friend. It is one more brave move to throw off the masks that undermine our strength and peace. Oh more than that, it’s abdicating control to the rightful King! What relief (and joy) comes when our world is put right in that way.

    Aliyah, your last paragraph was a crescendo of delight and hope! Joyful tears welled up in me. He restores ALL things, and He is making ALL things new. Amen!

  6. Aliyah March 17, 2015

    Hi Shelly

    Thank you for sharing your heart words with me today, you really encouraged me. I wrote those final lines in that final paragraph with tears and a deep sense that there was someone very specific God intended those lines for. I just knew it was part of His plan and it was probably you. You are a Joyful Bride to the King! 🙂 I say AMEN too, may He make all things new! Thank you for reading and for sharing today, may God richly bless you with Love and many happy sunflowers in the field of your life. Aliyah

  7. Addie May 16, 2017

    Just reading this now – this is beautiful! It’s exactly where I am now, and I too am just trying to feel God’s arms around me. I also burnt out when I was finishing my Masters, and am now working in a small, quiet town while still recovering. Thank you for this lovely post!

    1. Aliyah May 17, 2017

      Hey Addie, its so nice to meet you here. Thank you for sharing your journey and yes, it took a small town to help me recover as well.
      I pray for sucha blessed beauty and joy surrounding you that your spiritual and physical limbs will be renewed and restored. Bless you! Much lV!

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