After my Bible reading, right now I’m feeding my soul with Embracing the Body: Finding God in Our Flesh and Bone by Tara Owens. It’s challenging me to think about bodies and the way we think and talk and treat them.
What I read this morning ties right into our discussion of burnout from Expectations and Burnout: Women Surviving the Great Commission (by Robynn Bliss and Sue Eenigenburg) and this week’s theme of Soul Care.
“The church insists through silence [on talking about bodies] that we focus on the soul instead of the body, as if the two could be fully separated. In the church, we insist that the body is somehow separate, not something to be brought into the life of the community. In doing so we watch clergy and those in ministry run ragged with fatigue, living unhealthy lifestyles that lead to the slew of moral and ethical failures that grab headlines today. Whether it’s the body without soul (hospital) or soul with body (modern church), we’re living in part, not in full, at the depths of us, we know it.”
Bold and italics mine. Doesn’t the idea of hospitals and churches in regards to bodies and souls give you pause.
Even if you need to stop here and meditate and read no further, it’s okay. Or as Sue said in this week’s reading, maybe you need to take a nap and that may be the most important way to tend to your body and soul today. I appreciate the holistic focus Sue and Robynn bring to the discussion on burn out and symptoms of it.
The quotation at the beginning of chapter 10 is powerful, isn’t it? I have come to picture burnout as a donkey pulling a load that’s too heavy and tipped it up. Her front legs churning and churching in the air, but getting nowhere. Are you like the donkey? Part of the reason we’re reading this book and spent so much of the Retreat on expectations is because we know we’re a group that’s wired to just keep churning our legs.
Robynn’s illustration of the staircase is another one that really helped me visualize the potential pathway to burnout. When I’d talk to those preparing for the field about the ideas in this section, I made a powerpoint presentation and in part, this is how I saw Robynn’s examples play out:
Where would you put yourself right now on the staircase? Is there a smile on your face? Or a look of resignation? Or a smile?
When the authors share the four options (work harder, give up, alter expectations, and alter reality), I wonder how many of us still hear that the “right” answer is to “work harder.” I hope we are more aware that doesn’t need to be our default. Instead, we can look at our expectations and our reality and see where we can (and
should could) make changes.
I found it interesting that the rate of burnout isn’t influenced by marital status, number of kids, or location (open vs. creative access). Did that surprise you too?
These are two rich chapters. I have more to say, but I’d like to see where our discussion takes us in the comments. What stood out to you? What would you like to add to or question about these chapters? How might prevention of burnout look like soul care?
See you in the comments, friends!
P.S. Next week we have ask an author as Sue and Robynn will be here; get your questions ready! And then in two weeks we’ll have a wrap up week since so much has been going on, we need time to process.
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