I Promise My Angry Exhaustion Is Worth It
By Janel Breitenstein
“What can I do to help?” he asked that morning.
“Just help me make it past 4:30,” I told him.
The reasons I was worn out were really good ones. Really! Heroic, even. Loving people well, especially those in hard times, is worth it.
If only I could get my body to keep up. (Stupid body.) I needed a day off—a Sabbath—like oxygen.
I army-crawled to 4:30. He helped. But in the argument after, he might have been less impressed with my exhausted anger toward a well-meant comment of his. My over-sensitive, overworn self had zero capacity to deal with anything whiffing of criticism.
Wisely, he suggested I rest before we hashed out the rest of the argument. I sniffed, pulled out a book and a blanket.
See, my lack of “no” often stems from greater desires in me. Some good, like loving. Others less good: my sense of worth. Others’ adoration. Fear.
I love to ignore my own capacity. Sometimes it’s the natural outcome of a large view of me and a small view of God.
But too often, people in my innermost circle must ante up for my lack of discernment and courage to draw the line, to think too highly of myself rather than with sober judgment (Romans 12:3).
My husband’s words from years ago still ricochet in my brain: “Sometimes your overcommitment affects how the gospel”—Jesus’ love—“is played out in our home.” I love less well, and with less joy.
Sometimes I’m asking, What if I don’t do this? Instead of, What might God desire if I said no?
Rarely do we hold other believers accountable for the fourth commandment: To rest, to Sabbath.
What could our marriages be with a little more headspace? Enjoyment of God? Capacity for emotional engagement?
The good stuff: Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
- How could you act as a shield for your spouse and an advocate for their rest, their “no”?
- In what ways have our culture’s values of achievement and hustle inappropriately influenced your Christianity?
- How could adequate rest potentially alter your marriage?
- If you tend to overcommit, what areas of sin tend to influence your decision making?
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