Sabbatical and my Burnout

Jun 3, 2014Find joy today

“A bird flying, never nesting, is soon plummeting.” Mark Buchanan (Click to tweet)

I’m the Live Uncaged lady. The soaring girl. The bird without limits.

Except that I’ve hit a big, fat limit, looming ominous limit in seven letters: b u r n o u t.

I can’t think straight, can’t strategize, can’t slow my mind down. My thoughts are at that critical point where I cannot make them do what I want them to do. I cannot focus. (And focus was my word for the year!)

I need rest, friends.

I spent time with some dear friends in early May, and their words echoed what my near-to-me friends have been saying. It’s time to take a radical break. As Ghandi wrote, “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” And I’m sensing I am missing true, genuine life because of my crazy-busy work pace.

I’ve been running the writing treadmill for 24 years. I’ve written millions of words, thousands (yes!) of blog posts, hundreds of articles. Including my write-for-hire books, self published books, the books that never published, and my traditionally published books, I’ve written over 30 books in ten years. That’s 3 books per year, several of them novels (which are a whole different beast to wrangle).

I’ve marketed like a crazy woman. Inaugurated a podcast. Crowdfunded Not Marked: Finding Hope and Healing After Sexual Abuse. Been on TV. Created products. Been on the radio. Started a website to mentor authors, then later shut it down when I realized my main purpose in life is to speak and write about freedom, not to train others. (I did train authors for a decade, though). I have tinkered with this website with the help of Author Media. I have spoken around the country and the world. All good things.

Perhaps I’ll emerge from this time of rest to resume them. Or perhaps not. I don’t know.

All I do know is that I need a Sabbatical, and it starts today. A Sabbatical is simply an extended Sabbath, a longer period of rest from labors. For me, this means letting go of writing for publication for a period of time so I can stop and hear God. Psalm 46:10 reminds me to  “Be still and know that I am God.” I have been disobedient in my rushing. What happens when we are not still is that we start believing we are god, that all things depend upon us. (Click to tweet).

This is a lie.

Mark Buchanan hints at where I am right now as he writes on Sabbath from his excellent book, The Rest of God.

“Sabbath-keeping is a form of mending. It’s mortar in the joints. Keep Sabbath, or else break too easily, and oversoon. Keep it, otherwise our dustiness consumes us, becomes us, and we end up able to hold exactly nothing.”

I am there, holding nothing except chaos in my brain. And what wrecks my heart and mind even more is the treadmill of frustration that is the writing business, particularly the crazy fame part. It messes with my head. Not that I am famous, but that I am in the realm of a business that praises the famous, and sets that up as the ideal. I have, at times, done this:

“We have let ourselves be consumed by the things that feed the ego but starve the soul.” Mark Buchanan

I want to feed my soul, want to feel the touch of Jesus, hear His voice, and let go of all the clamoring.

So I’m resting from my writing labors for three months, which also corresponds to some needed vacation in the Pacific Northwest, a mission trip to Montreal, a remodel, and preparing my son to go off to college. In that sense, my life will be full. But it will not be full of social media, writing books, and running on the endless treadmill.

During this rest, my goal is to NOT be consumed with worry about money (another byproduct of this writing biz). I am making a concerted effort to let go of trying to FORCE writing to make money. It hasn’t worked yet. I’ve had marginal success as a midlist author, but not enough that compensates me adequately for time spent. (I have to work and work and work to earn a fast food salary. No wonder I’m burning out).

Right now I don’t have an answer to this problem except that I cannot keep my current pace.

This sabbatical may help me discern what is next.

It could be that I simply write for the joy of it in the margins of my life (finding another job to pay bills). Or perhaps God has another way through I haven’t yet perceived. Or maybe I’ll speak full time. Or find a ministry job. Or a social media job. Who knows?

That being said, I have prepared for this Sabbatical with you in mind. My Uncaged Podcast will continue on Mondays through the summer. I’ve got some amazing blog posts set to post every Thursday that I think will bless your socks off. But I won’t be much on social media unless I WANT to. And I won’t be promptly responding to emails unless they’re urgent. it’s time for peace and rest.

What I’d love from you: Prayer.

Please pray that I would find rest, quiet, peace. I need to know what is next for me, whatever that means. And to know that in my gut, I need solitude and no more DOING. I need hammock time, folks. Your prayers will be an added blessing to this time I need to reflect. Thank you in advance.