August Reflection – Running on empty: lessons from an Icelandic geyser
A few years ago, I got to visit the most beautiful place on planet earth – Iceland – and watch a geyser explode right in front of my eyes. It was fascinating. After the initial pillar of water propels itself into the air, the base of the geyser drains of all the water for a few minutes. As I stood engrossed, I felt God whisper powerful truth to me: “That’s you, Claire.” Literally, I was the human equivalent of a drained geyser: I was running on empty. Burnt out. Done.
Are you living a life of ‘breaking busy’? Alli Worthington in Breaking Busy defines this as a life without peace where decisions are made for the approval of others not God. I know what it feels like to be tethered to an ever increasing do-list; it feels overwhelming and anxiety-inducing. It’s far from the “life to the full” that Jesus talks about in John 10:10.
Sound familiar? I am sure that for many of us as GB leaders, it does sound familiar. Then let’s take off your busyness badge of honour and breathe. And ask yourself a question: Why am I always striving to make myself busy?
Many of us have formed complicated narratives about our own identity and self-worth. In the world we live in, it’s quite easy to discover that our self-worth is built on a foundation of sand especially if we judge it through the world’s definition of success, achievements and other people’s approval. As Fil Anderson asks in Running on Empty: “Are we unable to distinguish between activity and identity, so our activity determines our identity?”
So how can we implement a different rhythm of living?
1) Pausing to recharge
I had to recognise that my passion and enthusiasm for God’s ministry can be the same energy that causes me to ignore my needs and deplete myself. Just like our mobile phones, we have a finite capacity. We need to ensure that we’re recharging and plugging ourselves into our ultimate power source: God.
2) Cultivating self-compassion
Some may perceive self-care as selfish, but we can’t live the life God has created for each of us if we don’t take care of ourselves. For me, self-compassion is ensuring that I don’t just have a Sabbath on Sunday but have a Sabbath hour every day: 60 mins of doing something that lights up my soul.
3) Be present over perfect
Amid all the striving that causes us to seek perfection, it is powerful, counter-cultural and biblical to pause and remember: “I am enough.” Imagine if we all extended God’s grace to ourselves when we suffer or feel inadequate.
In God’s eyes, you are loved (Jeremiah 31:3), forgiven (Titus 2:14), chosen (Isaiah 43:2) and valuable (Deuteronomy 7:6). Sometimes we need to make more time to breathe in these God-truths and breath out the lies that our culture feeds us.
Sometimes, the most courageous thing that God is calling us to do is to stop and be still.
If you would like to explore creating Rhythms of Grace in your life, Claire will be leading GB International’s first LEAD//FOLLOW webinar on Saturday 5 September at 0600-0730 and 1200-1330 GMT. Book online here before Wednesday 2 September.